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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.

Twitter Feed (@FedJudicialHist)

  • Senior U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen F. Williams (D.C. Cir.) died yesterday at age 83
    4 days 7 hours ago
  • 22/ For a detailed legislative history of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction, see our chart here: /end
    1 week 16 hours ago
  • 21/ In 1988, Congress eliminated most of the remainder of the Court's mandatory appellate jurisdiction, abolishing mandatory appeals from state courts as well as those provided under the acts of 1925 and 1937.
    1 week 16 hours ago
  • 20/ In 1950, Congress eliminated direct appeals from the U.S. district courts in cases involving administrative orders, except for cases involving orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission, which were eliminated in 1975.
    1 week 16 hours ago
  • 19/ Congress made some alterations to the Court's mandatory appellate jurisdiction after 1925. In 1937, it added cases in which the U.S. or a federal officer was a party and a federal statute was held unconstitutional.
    1 week 16 hours 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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.

To submit questions about federal judicial history, email us at