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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)

  • #SCOTUS decided Home Building and Loan Association v. Blaisdell #OTD in 1934; Minnesota law extending time period for repayment of mortgages during economic crisis did not violate the Contracts Clause of the Constitution
    1 week 18 hours ago
  • #SCOTUS decided Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan #OTD in 1935; Congress improperly delegated legislative power to FDR via the National Industrial Recovery Act, allowing him to regulate the transport of petroleum products without adequate guidance from the legislature.
    1 week 1 day ago
  • The U.S. District Court for the District of #NewMexico was established and assigned to the Eighth Circuit #OTD in 1912, upon the state's admission to the Union
    1 week 2 days ago
  • RT @FJC_Research: The FJC Research Division is hiring two researchers! Check out the details here:
    1 week 3 days ago
  • Congress authorized the judicial council of each circuit to appoint a circuit executive #OTD in 1971 with the goal of bringing more administrative expertise to the federal courts
    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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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.

To submit questions about federal judicial history, email us at