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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Hastie, William. Papers

Repository: Harvard University. Law School Library. Historical & Special Collections

Collection Description (CRHP): William Hastie was a professor of law at Howard University and mentored many civil rights lawyers such as Thurgood Marshall and Oliver Hill. He worked for the NAACP on many important legal cases in the 1930s and '40s and served as the first African American federal judge in the U.S. Court
of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

A copy of his oral history from the Truman Presidential Library is included in Series V.

Collection Description (Extant): The papers of William Henry Hastie span the years 1916 to 1976, with the bulk of the papers falling into the period from his nomination to the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit by President Harry S. Truman, October 15, 1949, to the time of his death on April 14, 1976.
The collection includes correspondence (both letters received and carbons of letters sent); handwritten, typed, and printed drafts; slip sheets of legal opinion; lists and tabulations; memoranda; reports; dockets; agenda of meetings; research materials and notes; clippings; legal and legislative documents; other printed items; manuscripts of published and unpublished writings; and a small amount of memorabilia such as honorary degree certificates. Photographic items have been transferred to the Law Library's Art Collection.
In sheer physical volume, three-fourths of Judge Hastie's papers are Court-related (67 of the 110 manuscript boxes plus 22 cartons of briefs holding one cubic foot each). Together they constitute a fine documentation of the workings of a U.S. Appeals Court and of the day-by-day judicial and administrative activities of one of its judges.
The files of Judge Hastie's own opinions are contained in 28 manuscript boxes and cover the October terms 1949 to his death in April 1976. These files are arranged in two alphabets: (1)-Opinions by Hastie while sitting on his own Court, and (2) Opinions while sitting on other Federal Courts. The listing of all of the cases includes the citations from the Federal Reporter, type of opinion (opinion, dissent, etc.), and in the case of sittings on other Courts, the name of the Court. There is also an incomplete set of slip sheets, contained in 11 additional manuscript boxes. . . .

Hastie's segregation/discrimination files fall into three groups: NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) files, segregation/discrimination in the Armed Services, and other miscellaneous subject files. Hastie was a member of the NAACP from the early 1930's until his death in 1976 and served on its board of directors, from 1941 to 1968, of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. His files show his close ties with the NAACP and his deep involvement in its struggles. Materials included in the NAACP Series are Hastie's correspondence and memoranda exchanged with members of the two boards such as Allan Knight Chalmers,William T. Coleman,John W. Davis,Jack Greenberg,Thurgood Marshall,Henry Lee Moon,Arthur B. Spingarn,Earl Weaver,Walter White, and Roy Wilkins. Correspondence relates to such matters as meetings; officers and staff; local branches; projects to be supported; application for grants; unfavorable news media coverage; harmonious cooperation between the Association and the "Inc. Fund" (as the Legal Defense and Educational Fund was known among board members); and problems of division of spheres of activity, e.g. Fund was to handle all segregation cases. Two folders contain correspondence and memoranda re Brown v. Board of Education and show clearly the part Hastie played, namely in reviewing the briefs prepared by Thurgood Marshall and others and in fundraising efforts. A large segment of papers consists of mimeographed material, e.g., reports, agenda and minutes of board meetings, income statements, committee membership lists, and petitions. Additional folders contain clippings; typescripts of pieces and statements of Hastie in support of Federal anti-lynching legislation, 1940; papers relating to Hastie's involvement in the North Carolina teachers' salary fight, 1933; and Hastie's service as a member of the Spingarn Medal Award Committee, 1969-1975.

Access Copy Note: Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Date(s): 1916-1976

Digital Status: No

Existing IDs: Call No.: HOLLIS 601657

Extent: 137 boxes

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: William Hastie

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American judges
African American lawyers
Civil rights--Cases
Howard University
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
United States. Supreme Court




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   September 26, 2018
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