Edmund M. Morgan, Jr. Papers

Identifier: MSS.0304

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Edmund M. Morgan, Jr., date from approximately 1906 to 1964 and document his lengthy and distinguished career as an attorney, a legal scholar, a teacher, and a public servant. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1940s and 1950s. Extensive correspondence, Morgan's own writings, and papers related to his professional activities provide insight into his scholarship and record his part in such important proceedings as the simplification of the federal rules for civil procedure and the modernization of the code of military justice. Other materials reflect his role in the development of rules for civil procedure in Puerto Rico and Israel. An extensive file of course materials documents

Morgan's approach to teaching the law. The Morgan Papers are arranged in seven series:

  1. Biographical and Personal Papers
  2. Correspondence
  3. Writings
  4. Professional Activities and Service
  5. Course Materials
  6. Cases
  7. Collected Writings

Series Descriptions

Series I: Biographical and Personal, 1906-63, nd (.35 cu.ft.)

Biographical sketches, resumes, personal financial and legal documents, memorabilia such as certificates and original cartoons, and photographs. Of particular interest is a manuscript autobiographical sketch written for the Fiftieth Anniversary Report of the Harvard Class of 1902. Arranged alphabetically by document type.

Series II: Correspondence, c. 1906-1964, nd (6.00 cu.ft.)

Consists primarily of professional correspondence dating from the 1930s to the 1950s. Documents Morgan's scholarly and professional activities, especially his work as editorial director of the Foundation Press. Includes significant correspondence with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, Puerto Rico Chief Justice A.C. Snyder, and New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Arthur Vanderbilt. Also includes autograph letters from President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senator John F. Kennedy, Senator Estes Kefauver, and Supreme Court Justice Byron White. Arranged alphabetically and chronologically.

Series III: Writings, 1927-62 (1.00 cu.ft.)

Notes, drafts, and published versions of books, speeches, and articles by Morgan. Arranged alphabetically by title.

Series IV: Professional Activities and Service, 1937-60 (3.00 cu.ft.)

Reports, notes, publications, and correspondence regarding activities engaged in by Morgan, primarily as a service to the nation or to the legal profession, but in some instances as a paid consultant. Includes information related to the revision of the federal rules for civil procedure and the development of a Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as to the development of rules of civil procedure for Puerto Rico and Israel. Arranged by subject or by name of organization served.

Series V: Course Materials, 1926-62, nd (2.75 cu.ft.)

Lecture notes and handouts for courses in civil procedure, evidence, jurisprudence, legal history, and trial and appellate practice, dating primarily from Morgan's Harvard and Vanderbilt years. Includes the full text of weekly lectures delivered for a Harvard course in jurisprudence during the academic year 1926-27. Arranged alphabetically by course.

Series VI: Cases, 1942-61, nd (.35 cu.ft.)

Depositions, briefs, and decisions for a variety of cases that Morgan apparently used for his courses or his own research or for which he served counsel in a consulting capacity. Includes information regarding the 1952 prosecution of Alger Hiss. Arranged alphabetically by title of case.

Series VII: Collected Writings, 1914-62 (.25 cu.ft.)

Typescripts or published versions of articles, speeches, and publications on legal issues. Arranged alphabetically by title within each document type.


  • 1906 - 1964

Language of Materials


Biographical Sketch

Edmund M. Morgan, Jr., was born on November 11, 1878, in Mineral Ridge, Ohio. After graduating from Ohio public schools, he attended Harvard University. He received the Bachelor of Arts in 1902, the Master of Arts in 1903 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1905. He later completed another Masters degree at Yale (1919). On April 26, 1911, he married Elsie Sears Smith. They had two children, Roberta Mary and Edmund Sears Morgan.

Morgan began his career by practicing law with Coryate Wilson in Duluth, Minnesota, from 1905 to 1912. While in Duluth, he also served as both assistant and acting city attorney (1908-1910) and as special counsel to the Duluth Charter Commission. He joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota Law School in 1912 and served until 1917. From 1917 to 1925, he was a member of the Yale Law School faculty. He actually began his career at Yale with a brief hiatus, however, serving the United States Army as an assistant to the Judge Advocate General from 1917 to 1919, holding the ranks of Major and Lieutenant Colonel.

Morgan left Yale for Harvard in 1925, serving as Royall Professor of Law until he reached mandatory retirement age in 1950. During the summers, he taught at Columbia, North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, Washington, Stanford, and Southern California. In 1936-37 and 1942-45, he was Acting Dean of the Harvard Law School. Upon his retirement, he joined the faculty of the Vanderbilt University Law School and was named Rand Professor of Law in 1951. He taught at Vanderbilt until approximately 1962.

From 1935 to approximately 1962, Morgan served as editorial director for the Foundation Press, a major publisher of legal scholarship and teaching materials. During the 1940s and 1950s, he was involved in several important legal reform efforts. From 1935 to 1956, he served on the Advisory Committee of the U.S. Supreme Court on Rules of Civil Procedure, drafting the original set of rules adopted by the Committee. He served the war effort from 1942 to 1945 by chairing the War Shipping Panel of the War Labor Board. In the early 1950s, he chaired the committee that drafted a Uniform Code of Military Justice. Also in the 1950s, he served as a consultant for the territory of Puerto Rico and the State of Israel, developing codes of civil procedure for each. In the course of his career, Morgan authored or co-authored six books and wrote over 100 articles for professional journals. He remained a keen and active scholar almost until the time of his death in Nashville in January 1966, at the age of 87.


17.09 Linear Feet

Physical Location

Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives

Finding Aid for the Edmund M. Morgan, Jr. Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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