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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.

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  • 28(!)/ The U.S. Code has grown substantially since 1926. It currently includes Titles 1-52 and 54, and 27 titles have been enacted into positive law. The organization of Title 28 has remained substantially the same since 1948. /end
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  • 27/ Other changes were aimed at modernizing and simplifying language. District attorneys were renamed U.S. attorneys. The U.S. circuit courts of appeals were renamed the U.S. courts of appeals. The Conference of Senior Circuit Judges became the Judicial Conference of the U.S.
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  • 26/ The new code made other administrative changes, such as ceasing the practice of setting the terms of the district courts by statute, providing that they were to be set by order of the court.
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  • 25/ The Judicial Code of 1948 also created the modern positions of chief judge of the U.S. district courts and U.S. courts of appeals. It formally added the District of Columbia as a judicial district and circuit and regularized the names of those courts.
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  • 24/ The 1948 revision made some substantive changes to the law. Many of the new provisions related to jurisdiction and venue. For example, diversity jurisdiction was expanded by including the District of Columbia and territories within the definition of "state."
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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This three-volume series presents historical documents related to significant debates about the federal judiciary.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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