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Federal Judicial History

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The Federal Judicial Center produced this guide as part of its mandate to "encourage programs relating to the history of the judicial branch of the United States government." The guide surveys the range of historical programs in the federal courts and offers suggestions for courts considering a new program or looking to expand the activities of an existing program. The guide also incorporates the Center's manual on conducting oral history projects.

In Print: Available for Distribution

A chronological study of the development of the clerk's office as an institution from its creation by Congress in 1789 to the present. The report uses legislative material and other primary sources to describe the changing nature of the clerks' duties over the course of American history. The report also describes and explains the transformation of the clerks from relatively autonomous office-holders who earned their livings from the fees that their offices could generate to salaried employees of a federal judicial bureaucracy whose work was, and is, subject to a significant amount of oversight by various agencies of the government. The study emphasizes the clerks' contributions to judicial administration on a national level, but it provides a framework within which others can reconstruct the role of clerks in individual courts.

Archival Copy on File

In this issue:

  • The Amistad Case and the Federal Courts
  • Documenting the Careers of Federal Judges

The Court Historian was an occasional newsletter (discontinued) from the Federal Judicial History Office.

All issues published from 1989 to 1998.

In Print: Available for Distribution

This directory provides students of federal judicial history with the locations of and descriptions of the contents of manuscript collections related to federal judges, including Supreme Court justices and judges of the U.S. courts of appeals, U.S. circuit courts, U.S. district courts, territorial courts, and various special courts. The materials described in this publication are located in libraries and other institutions open to the public. Within the collections are documents judges have compiled in the course of their judicial careers, correspondence and records related to judges' professional and private lives, and records of judges included in the manuscript collections of other individuals and institutions.

Archival Copy on File

A publication that discusses the importance of federal judges' papers as a documentary record of judges' careers and the work of the federal courts. The guide describes how students of the federal courts use judges' papers and offers guidelines for judges' selection of a repository to house a collection. The guide also offers recommendations for the management of documents in chambers.

Superseded by A Guide to the Preservation of Federal Judges' Papers, Second Edition (2009).

Archival Copy on File

In this issue:

  • Constructing Justice: An Exhibit of Courthouse Photographs at the Federal Judicial Center
  • Diversifying the Judiciary: An Oral History of Women on the Federal Bench

The Court Historian was an occasional newsletter (discontinued) from the Federal Judicial History Office.

All issues published from 1989 to 1998.

Archival Copy on File

In this issue:

  • Excerpts from an Interview with Judge Burnita Shelton Matthews of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  • Court History Programs
  • The Diary of General Henry Sewall

The Court Historian was an occasional newsletter (discontinued) from the Federal Judicial History Office.

All issues published from 1989 to 1998.

Available Online Only

The authors explain the provisions of the 1789 Judiciary Act and the compromises it embodies, review the evolution of the federal judicial system during the nineteenth century, and analyze the conditions and debates that led to the passage of the Evarts Act in 1891, which established the three-tiered system that characterizes federal court structure today. The publication includes twelve maps that illustrate the growth and evolution of the districts and circuits from 1789 to the present.

Superseded by Creating the Federal Judicial System, Third Edition (2005).

Archival Copy on File

In this issue:

  • Joint AO/FJC Committee on Court Records Meets for the Third Time
  • Why Federal Judges Resign
  • Court History Programs
  • Ninth Circuit Announces 1993 Essay Prize in Western Legal History

The Court Historian was an occasional newsletter (discontinued) from the Federal Judicial History Office.

All issues published from 1989 to 1998.

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