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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)

  • RT @abapubliced: Join us and the @FedJudicialHist in November for another two-part teachers virtual PD session! This time we will be tackli…
    1 day 10 hours ago
  • New feature: The Executive Branch and the Courts. Read a series of essays about the history of the relationship between the executive and judicial branches. Topics include nominations, judicial review of agency action and executive orders, and more.
    1 day 17 hours ago
  • Senior U.S. District Judge Jackson L. Kiser (W.D. Va.) died yesterday at age 91
    1 day 17 hours ago
  • Frank Minis Johnson, Jr., a southerner known for landmark civil rights rulings, was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama #OTD in 1955; later served on U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits
    1 day 18 hours ago
  • The first Teapot Dome trial, U.S. v. Pan-American Oil and Transport Co., opened in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California #OTD in 1924; learn more about the Teapot Dome civil and criminal trials:
    2 days 17 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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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