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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)

  • New feature from the Supreme Court Historical Society: The Supreme Court and the Presidential Election of 1876 (h/t @legalhistory)
    15 hours 46 min ago
  • RT @SCHSociety: The Supreme Court has launched an online exhibit, Lady Lawyers. It is an in-depth look at the history of women lawyers an…
    1 day 10 hours ago
  • The John Minor Wisdom U.S. Court of Appeals Building in New Orleans, current home of the Fifth Circuit, shown in 1915; see more historic federal courthouse photos in our gallery:
    1 day 15 hours ago
  • Supreme Court arguments concluded in Gitlow v. New York #OTD in 1923; in 1925, the Court issued its opinion, which established that the First Amendment applied to state governments via the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
    2 days 15 hours ago
  • The Supreme Court approved the first Federal Rules of Evidence #OTD in 1972; learn more about the history of the rules:
    5 days 13 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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