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Federal Judicial History

The Center conducts research and produces resources on the history of the judicial branch of the federal government.  These resources include compilations of historical data on the courts, information about judges and judicial administration, as well as publications on federal judicial history. The Center also maintains a biographical directory of Article III judges from 1789 to the present, engages in outreach and education on federal judicial history, and works to promote the preservation of the history of the judicial branch.

Spotlight on Judicial History

Twitter Feed (@FedJudicialHist)

  • Automaker John DeLorean was arrested on federal cocaine trafficking charges #OTD in 1982; after trial in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California he was acquitted in 1984
    19 hours 40 min ago
  • Dwight Eisenhower gave William J. Brennan, Jr., a recess appointment to #SCOTUS #OTD in 1956; Brennan received a permanent appointment in 1957 and served until 1990
    4 days 19 hours ago
  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Reorganization Act became law #OTD in 1980; assigned Alabama, Florida, and Georgia to new Eleventh Circuit, keeping Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and the Canal Zone in the Fifth
    5 days 19 hours ago
  • William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Maryland's first U.S. district judge, died #OTD in 1799
    6 days 18 hours ago
  • October 20: U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Federal Bar Association-Chicago Chapter, and Seventh Circuit Bar Association host The Chicago 7 Trial 50 Years Later: A Conversation with Trial Prosecutor Richard Schultz. Register:
    1 week 3 days ago


Debates on the Federal Judiciary: A Documentary History

This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.

Volume I: 1787-1875
The first volume traces the long process of defining the judiciary within the relatively brief outline provided by the Constitution.

Volume II: 1875-1939
Volume II introduces readers to public debates on proposals to alter the organization, jurisdiction, and administration of the federal courts, as well as the tenure and authority of federal judges, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

Volume III: 1939-2005
The concluding volume of the series covers debates concerning structural changes to the federal courts, criminal justice reform, proposed civil justice initiatives, and the discipline of federal judges.

Approaches to Federal Judicial History

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This volume presents a range of scholarly approaches to the field of federal judicial history. Essays by scholars and public historians evaluate the current state of the field and offer insights into new potential areas of study.

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