Eighth Circuit Historical Society

The Historical Society of the United States Courts in the Eighth Circuit

What are judges' papers?


Judges’ papers are an invaluable primary source of information on judicial biography and court history. They consist of the materials generated by a judge in the course of personal life, in work on other professional activities, and during the execution of office. These are apart from the documents comprising the official court record, which are filed with the clerk's office and eventually deposited in the National Archives. Examples of materials are correspondence, notes, photos, scrapbooks, speeches, etc. Among the most valuable of a judge’s papers are the chambers papers, which are the case-related documents, correspondence, and records of court governance that complement and rather than duplicate the official record of the court. Judges’ papers are the personal property of the judge, so it is up to the judge to donate the papers to an archival repository of his or her choosing. Finding them preserved for history is a gold mine.

  • A Guide to the Preservation of Federal Judges' Papers, 2nd ed. (PDF); Federal Judicial Center, 2009

  • Directory of Manuscript Collections Related to Federal Judges, 1789-1997 (PDF); Peter Wonders. Federal Judicial Center, 1998

  • Federal Judicial History Office website offers biographical sketches of Article III judges. Once in a biographical entry, look at the bottom of the judge's profile for a link to manuscript sources. This site updates information found in Directory of Manuscript Collections Related to Federal Judges, 1789-1997, published in 1998.


    The Federal Judicial History Office book and website list both:
    The lists on this website only contain collections generated or collected by the judge in question.
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