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[Photo caption: Memo from Felix Frankfurter to his fellow Supreme Court justices regarding the important legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment that he wrote as part of the deliberations in the Brown v. Board of Education decision.]

A murder case that attracted worldwide attention; behind-the-scenes correspondence of Supreme Court Justices from the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case; and the Civil War diaries and correspondence of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

These are just three examples of the fascinating material in the latest offering from ProQuest History Vault, Law and Society since the Civil War: American Legal Manuscripts from the Harvard Law School Library. Law and Society is the fourteenth module to release in the History Vault product.

Law and Society since the Civil War consists of 11 collections from the Harvard Law School Library, highlighting three Supreme Court Justices, the first black federal judge, high-profile cases, and insights into developing ideologies and laws, as far back as 1861 with the Papers of Oliver Wendell Holmes, which span from the Civil War to the Great Depression.

The Papers of Louis D. Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter provide a behind-the-scenes view of the Supreme Court between 1919 and 1961. The Frankfurter Papers are of special note because they reveal how the Supreme Court approached the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the landmark school desegregation case that is well documented in other History Vault modules. The NAACP Papers in History Vault cover the NAACP’s legal strategy, and NAACP correspondence about the case, and the Black Freedom Struggle Federal Government Records module includes documentation from the federal government’s perspective with files from the Eisenhower Administration and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In addition to the Brown materials, Frankfurter’s Papers document the step-by-step process of a judge’s opinion writing and illustrate the day-to-day concerns of the justices.

The murder case covered in this module is the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Italian immigrant laborers and philosophical anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were accused of the 1920 murder of a paymaster and his guard in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Only a handful of trials in American legal history have occasioned more argument and passion than the case of Sacco and Vanzetti. Their trial and subsequent appeals attracted worldwide attention and protest. A Dedham, Massachusetts, court returned a guilty verdict on July 14, 1921, and precipitated six years of judicial proceedings, postponements, appeals, and sympathy demonstrations. The death sentence was carried out by electrocution on August 22, 1927. The papers in this module provide an in-depth look at the progress of this momentous case.

In addition to the Holmes, Brandeis, Frankfurter, and Sacco-Vanzetti Case Papers, Law and Society includes the papers of Albert Levitt, Livingston Hall, Richard H. Field, Roscoe Pound, Sheldon Glueck, William H. Hastie, and Zechariah Chafee.

Here are just three examples of the fascinating documents that researchers will find in Law and Society since the Civil War:

For more information on Law and Society since the Civil War: American Legal Manuscripts from the Harvard Law School Library as well as other History Vault modules, please visit the ProQuest History Vault website:

06 Nov 2013 | Posted by Shannon Janeczek

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