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Fowler Vincent Harper papers

Call Number: MS 1347

Scope and Contents

The Fowler V. Harper Papers consist of materials related to several legal cases in which Harper was involved as a party or attorney. The cases all concern, directly or indirectly, controversies provoked through the widespread government prosecution and public condemnation of alleged Communists during the "McCarthy Era" of the late 1940s and 1950s.

A substantial portion of the materials (1946-1953) consists of legal papers and newspaper clippings pertaining to Harper's own libel suit against several Hearst newspapers for their coverage of an investigation of Harper's loyalty in 1946. (Harper v. Hearst Consolidated Publications). The investigation was provoked when Harper signed a petition asking that the Communist Party be given a place on a 1947 Indiana election ballot. In response, the American Legion demanded an investigation, which was eventually ordered by the Governor of Indiana. Harper and several others were questioned. Harper's libel suit concerning press coverage of this investigation was finally settled out of court, and Harper received damages and retractions in most of the newspapers.

The papers also contain materials for another suit in which Harper represented Lyman R. Bradley's claim against New York University for back pay, Bradley, a teacher at Washington Square College, was suspended when he received a jail sentence for contempt in connection with accusations of "un-American activities." The legal papers and materials indicate that Harper's claim on behalf of Bradley was that the suspension was invalid, since it was for reasons unrelated to Bradley's professional abilities.

Materials are also found in the collection concerning Harper's representation of Dr. J.P. Peters of the Yale Medical School in a loyalty investigation ordered by the Loyalty Review Board of the Civil Service Commission. Correspondence, clippings and accounts indicate that active support and monetary contributions were given by numerous individuals to Harper's representation of Peters. Copies of legal arguments, proceedings, and memoranda for the hearing reveal the procedures followed in such investigations.

In addition to the above materials, the collection includes a small amount of personal correspondence, speeches and memorabilia.


  • 1941-1966


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Yale University Law School Library, 1982.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers consist of legal documents, correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to Harper's participation as a party or as attorney on cases involving government prosecution of alleged Communists during the McCarthy era of the late 1940s and 1950s. Included are papers on his own libel suit against the Hearst newspapers (1947-1948), his defense of Lyman R. Bradley in a suit against New York University (1951-1952) and of J.P. Peters in a loyalty investigation (1952-1954). Also in the papers are a small amount of personal correspondence, speeches, printed matter and memorabilia.

Biographical / Historical

Fowler V. Harper, lawyer and legal educator, was born on July 21, 1897 in Germantown, Ohio. After earning several advanced legal and academic degrees, he served on the faculties of the University of North Dakota, University of Oregon, and Indiana University law schools. He then joined the faculty of the Yale Law School in 1947 and was named Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law in 1957. His association with Yale continued until his death on January 8, 1965.

Harper was best known for his publications in the legal field of torts, which concerns the private remedies for personal injury, and for his controversial advocacy of civil rights and liberties during the post-World War II "McCarthy Era."

Guide to the Fowler Vincent Harper Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Terry Hsu
December 1982
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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