20th-Century Collections Guide: Law

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The legal profession, significant litigation cases, and matters relating to civil rights and international law within the purview of the 20th century are documented through personal papers and organizational records, including the records of law firms and professional associations.

Please note that this is not a comprehensive guide to HSP's manuscript collections relating to law and the legal profession. It is meant to serve as a starting point to help users locate collections that may be of interest to them.

See the 20th-Century Collections Guide main page.

HSP staff is regularly adding finding aids to the website. Users should click on a collection's title to see whether a full online finding aid is available.

Brehon Law Society
Brehon Law Society records, 1976-1989 (Collection 3044) 5 boxes (2.25 linear ft.)
The Brehon Law Society is a Philadelphia-based professional association founded in 1976 to promote the profession of law among people of Irish ancestry.  Members include lawyers, judges, law students, and “friends.”  The society supports legal education by providing professional development programs and offering mentors to law students. It sponsors speakers on current legal issues, and honors successful people, often society members, for their achievements in the field of law.  The Brehons promote Irish cultural events such as theater and concerts, and they organize social activities like holiday parties, dinner-dances, and receptions for visiting Irish dignitaries.  Society members celebrate their Irish heritage by marching in the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and they usually hold a post-parade party.  There are also some events of a religious nature, such as communion breakfasts.  In addition, the Brehons have political interests.  Members run for judicial offices and positions in the Philadelphia Bar Association, and the society usually endorses a slate of candidates in those elections.  The Brehons are also watchful of political and human rights issues in Ireland. The collection includes bylaws, Executive Committee and general membership meeting agendas and minutes, membership information, financial records, reports on special events, and correspondence.  There is a card file of the members and friends of the society, and one artifact, a corporate seal.  Most of the material in this collection is dated from 1983 to 1986.

Carson, Hampton L. (Hampton Lawrence), 1852-1929
Hampton L. Carson papers, 1715-1941 (Collection 0117) 62 boxes (31.5 linear ft.)
Autograph letters and portraits, 1690-1921, of lawyers, judges, and others involved in the administration of law and justice in the courts of Pennsylvania, and of other states, from the early colonial period to the present. Among the letters are those of governors of Pennsylvania, 1789-1920; attorneys general of Pennsylvania, 1791-1920; members of the colonial bar, 1690-1775; members of the High Court of Error, 1761-1815; lawyers of the Revolutionary period, 1776-1801; justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, 1712-1921; and others.  There are also seven boxes containing approximately 400 caricatures of political leaders, members of the bar, and other prominent people, ca. 1880-1929.  Other items are pamphlets, speeches, newspaper clippings, on public questions; correspondence of Hampton L. Carson about his legal practice, and his presidency of the American Bar Association and of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; correspondence and papers on Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker of Pennsylvania.

Diaz, Nelson A.
Nelson A. Diaz papers, 1967-2009 (Collection 3079) 177 boxes (69.2 linear ft.)
Nelson Diaz (1947- ) is a Philadelphia attorney who served on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas (1981-1992) and as general counsel for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (1993-1996). In addition, he has been highly active in the Hispanic and overall Philadelphia community as an activist, businessman, and journalist. He has served on many boards and committees in the Philadelphia area, and his interests and involvement have ranged from youth groups to the Temple University Hospital to the William Penn Foundation. This extensive collection documents Diaz's activities relating to Hispanic issues, organizations, and events; his work with and for various boards and committees; his work as a judge and an attorney; and his numerous other activities. Materials include correspondence, memos, minutes, reports, transcripts, by-laws, mailing lists, financial data, petitions, clippings, personnel documents, photographs, and audio and video cassettes.

Lagakos, Gregory G.
Gregory G. Lagakos papers, 1961-1980 (Collection MSS062) 12 boxes 1 volume (4.8 linear ft.)
Gregory Lagakos, the son of Greek immigrants, was born and raised in Camden, New Jersey.  He practiced law in Philadelphia and served as a judge on the County Court of Philadelphia and the Common Pleas Court.  He was active in the Greek community and in local and national Greek organizations.  The collection consists primarily of materials from organizations in which Lagakos was active, including AHEPA, the Greek American Committee of the Philadelphia bicentennial celebration, and the 23rd Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.

Lagakos, Gregory G., 1912-1982
Gregory G. Lagakos papers additions, 1937-1989 (Collection MSS169) 23 boxes (8.8 linear ft.)
These additions to the Gregory Lagakos Papers consist primarily of materials from AHEPA, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, and other organizations in which Lagakos was active. These materials include by-laws, correspondence, directories, financial records, historical notes, minutes, newspaper clippings, official publications, programs, reports, photographs, and other items. There is also a small amount of personal and family material, including Lagakos's resume, biography, family tree, and other items.

Lukas, Edwin J. (Edwin Jay), 1902-1973
Edwin J. Lukas papers, 1937-1973 (Collection MSS032) 2 boxes (0.8 linear ft.)
Edwin Lukas was a lawyer, author, criminologist and civil rights activist.  The collection primarily documents Lukas' private life and his work with the American Jewish Committee from 1950 to 1968.  It includes correspondence, speeches, articles, book reviews, drafts for a civil rights case book, and sound recordings.

Rawle & Henderson
Rawle & Henderson records, 1800-circa 1962 (Collection 3109) 63 volumes (9.7 linear ft.)
Rawle & Henderson, in 1983, was recognized by the United States Senate as “the oldest law firm in continuous practice in United States.”   It was founded in 1783 by William Rawle (1759-1836) under the name Rawle Law Offices.  Various members of the Rawle family headed the firm throughout the 1800s, including Rawle’s sons and grandsons.  In 1913, the firm became known as Rawle and Henderson with the addition of Joseph W. Henderson; he became a full partner in 1917.  The firm recently celebrated its 225th anniversary and continues as one of the region’s leading practices, particularly in the admiralty and maritime law. The Rawle & Henderson collection consists of sixty-three law books kept by the firm, the earliest dating to 1800.  There are published reports by William Rawle Jr. of cases heard by state Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, as well as copies of the Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1700-1805.  Additional volumes include “Paper Books” that contain reports and papers from specific cases worked by Rawle & Henderson from the 1920s to the 1950s, including several that involved the National Labor Relations Board.  There are also three miscellaneous books, including a copy of American Maritime Cases (1932), for which Joseph Henderson served as an associate editor.

Sowers, Clinton A.
Clinton A. Sowers records of the proceedings against the estate of Henrietta E. Garrett, 1936-1951 (Collection 3370) 1150 volumes (88 linear ft.)
These volumes are the records of Clinton Sowers, Esq., who was appointed an examiner to the proceedings of the claims against the estate of Henrietta E. Garrett, held in the Orphan's Court of Philadelphia County. Garrett died a widow on Nov. 16, 1930, leaving an estate valued at more than $17 million. In 1931, the Commonwealth of PA filed a claim alleging that Garrett died without leaving next of kin surviving her and that the estate should pass to the Commonwealth by escheat. Because of the size of the estate the case received world-wide publicity and approximately 25,800 claims were filed people in almost every state and several foreign countries.  In 1936, a master and two examiners were appointed to exam and render a decision to these claims. These records document this 15 year proceeding, including approximately 2,000 hearings, at which the testimony of more than 1,100 witnesses was taken and more than 7,700 exhibits were received in evidence. In 1950, the master ruled that Henrietta E. Garrett's nearest next of kin were Howard S. Kretschmar and Herman A. Kretschmar, maternal first cousins, and Johann Peter Christian Schafer I, a paternal first cousin. This collection consists of court hearing transcripts, exhibit books, transcripts of depositions, investigations, abstracts of testimonies, indexes, master's report, and other volumes.