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Harry Shulman papers

Call Number: MS 239

Scope and Contents

The Harry Shulman Papers consist of twenty-four boxes and are divided into four series, CORRESPONDENCE, ARBITRATION, SUBJECT FILES, and WRITINGS. The collection was transferred to the Yale University Library in 1981 and 1982 by Stephen N. Shulman, son of the Yale Law School Dean.

Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, is housed in Boxes 1-4, folders 1-115. It primarily contains letters to and from Harry Shulman by teaching faculty, persons concerned with the arbitration of labor-management disputes, former students, and professional colleagues. The great majority of correspondence concerns one of the following subjects: messages of congratulations on Shulman's appointment as dean of Yale Law School, letters on his work between 1936 and 1939 on the restatement of the Law of Torts for the American Law Institute, correspondence on the subject of arbitration, and letters on other professional matters.

In January 1954, Yale President A. Whitney Griswold chose Shulman dean of Yale Law School to succeed Wesley A. Sturgis. This appointment was an extremely popular one and Shulman was flooded with scores of letters from former students, academic colleagues, arbitration associates, and friends. Letters also poured in from leaders in the Yale community, law school faculty, and lawyers from throughout the country. Shulman's appointment was also, however, a controversial one, for he was the first identifying Jew to be selected a Yale dean. This subject is only alluded to in letters from Lloyd N. Cutler, William Delano, Felix Frankfurter, Richard M. Haber, and Wilmarth S. Lewis. Those who opposed Shulman cloaked their opposition by asserting that an "outside man" or "fresh blood" was needed to reinvigorate the Law School. As Felix Frankfurter stated in a letter probably written near the end of 1953, "you can't escape the fact that your selection as Dean would be a decisive triumph for 'civilized' conduct in realms where even the best institutions are at best laggards and too often woefully backward." Wilmarth S. Lewis affirmed that,

"In my sixteen years on the Corporation I have never heard such enviable statements made by so many people whose good opinion one would hope to have as were made on your behalf. If it is characteristic of our frightened time that your appointment should have caused excessive discussion, I think it is also a heartening sign of healthiness of present-day Yale that you now have what you should have had years ago."

Shulman received congratulatory messages from many well known people, including Mrs. James Rowland Angell, James T. Babb, Milton Conover, Gerald R. Ford, Jr., Jerome Frank, Arthur J. Goldberg, Erwin E. Griswold, Walter P. Reuther, Peter Seitz, Potter Stewart, and Henry M. Wriston.

In 1936, Shulman succeeded the ill Francis H. Bohlen as the American Law Institute reporter for the restatement of the Law of Torts. This task took three years and Shulman corresponded extensively with William Draper Lewis, director of the American Law Institute, Anna M. Judge, executive secretary to the director, and a large number of legal scholars, like Francis H. Bohlen, Oliver W. Branch, Walter J. Derenberg, Laurence H. Eldredge, Herbert F. Goodrich, Milton Handler, Edmund M. Morgan, T. Scott Orfutt, and Warren A. Seavey.

Harry Shulman was best known outside the Yale community as an arbitrator in labor-management disputes. From 1943 until his death, he was impartial umpire for the Ford Motor Company, and the United Auto Workers, C.I O. He was also administrative associate member and director of dispute for the National War Labor Board, was a member of the Wage Stabilization Board during the Korean War, was arbitrator for the Bendix Aviation Corporation and Wright Aeronautical Corporation, and was chairman of the panel in the steel industry dispute. Series I contains some arbitration correspondence, but the bulk of this material is found in Series II, ARBITRATION.

In addition, the series includes the usual professional letters of recommendation, correspondence regarding professional meetings, and others of a similar nature. Shulman served for many years as faculty advisor to the Yale Law Journal, a task that sometimes involved him in disputes between the editor and potential contributors over manuscripts submitted to the Journal. A 1938 controversy involved editor Lloyd W. Cutler, Carol Agger, and Abe Fortas. In a second 1954 dispute, the parties were editor Richard A. Siegel, A. L. Shalowitz, and Rear Admiral R. F. A. Studds.

The collection contains relatively little personal correspondence. The letters of Max Turner, folders 101-103, covering the years 1925-1933, form the only significant group of personal letters. They chronicle Turner's struggles as a young New York City lawyer. Shulman correspondend with a large number of legal scholars, law school faculty, people involved in arbitration, and former students. Prominent correspondents include Dean Acheson, Louis D. Brandeis, Felix Frankfurter, Learned Hand, Harold J. Laski, William Draper Lewis, and George W. Taylor.

Series II, ARBITRATION, is housed in Boxes 5-13, folders 116-214. It documents Harry Shulman's arbitration/umpire work. Shulman was widely known as an arbitrator in labor-management-disputes, an activity that commenced in 1940 and continued until his death. Files covering this work for twenty-six companies, the Connecticut Labor Relations Board, and the Steel Panel of the Wage Stabilization Board are found in this series. The largest amount of material documents his arbitration/umpire work for Bendix Aviation Corporation (folders 118-155), Borg-Warner Corporation (folders 156-153), Ford Motor Company (folders 178-189), R H. Macy & Company, Inc. (folders 194-199), and Wright Aeronautical Corporation (folders 216-224).

Harry Shulman's fame as an arbitrator arose from a number of factors; his common sense, even temperament, good humor, and exceptional judgment. One particularly well known Shulman story is recounted by Nelle Van D. Smith in chapter twelve of Human Relations: Labor and Management (Box 22, folder 293).

"His expert touch was apparent when a woman worker at a Ford plant was docked a half hour's pay because it was claimed she was distracting workers by her bright red clothing. In deciding for the woman, Shulman reasoned that the company was wrong, since it did not object to bright green slacks, though it was common knowledge that wolves, unlike bulls, may be attracted by colors other than red, and by various other enticements in the art and fit of female clothes."

Series III is composed of SUBJECT FILES and fills Boxes 14-22, folders 225-304. Harvard Law School Notes make up the largest amount of material, Boxes 17-20. Harry Shulman did not practice law extensively, and the collection contains relatively little on this aspect of his career. He was receiver for the bankrupt furrier company of Ostrow, Pochoda, and Gorman (folders 253-259) in 1928-1929 and was one of the legal representatives of the Manhattan Railway Company in the IRT Receivership case of 1932-1934 (folders 241-244). In 1929-1930, Shulman was law clerk to Justice Louis D. Brandeis, but only a "Survey Supreme Court October Term 1929" (folder 302) documents this part of his life. Series III also contains copies of seven papers written by Shulman's law school students (folders 295-301); a folder on the 1954 loyalty investigation of Myer Cohen (folder 231); material on his 1923 application for a fellowship from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (folder 230); a series of broadsides and other documents on the 1947 struggle between the International Union of Mine Mill and, Smelter-Workers, C.I.O. and the Provisional Metalworkers Council, Industrial Union of Shipbuilding Workers of America, C.I.O. to organize the workers of American Brass Company in Waterbury (folders 246-248); and a variety of materials reflecting Shulman's interest in arbitration (folders 226, 249-252, 261-262, 294).

Series IV, WRITINGS, contains copies of many of his publications, but not copies of his major books, and manuscripts of several chapters of a possibly unpublished book. These materials are found in Boxes 24-25.

Several aspects of the life and career of Harry Shulman are inadequately covered in the Harry Shulman Papers. The collection contains no family correspondence and little to document his personal life. The bulk of the correspondence covers the years 1936-1939 and 1952-1954. In addition, the papers contain almost nothing on Shulman's long teaching career at Yale, and, likewise, virtually nothing on Yale prejudice against Jewish faculty members. The Harry Shulman Papers, then, are most useful to those interested in the arbitration of labor-management disputes.


  • 1922-1955


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

Gift of Stephen N. Shulman, 1981-1982.


10 Linear Feet (24 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 professional correspondence, writings and files documenting Harry Shulman's work as an arbitrator in labor-management disputes. Included here are the records for some thirty cases over which he presided (1942-1955). Shulman's general files record his occasional practice of private law, his teaching at Yale Law School and contain an essay written in 1929 while he was a law clerk to Louis D. Brandeis. The correspondence contains a large number of letters congratulating Shulman on his appointment as Dean of the Yale Law School in 1954, some reflecting on the controversy over his being the first Jew to achieve that position. Among his writings are the manuscripts of several chapters on legal and labor subjects, possibly intended for an unpublished book.

Biographical / Historical

Lawyer; born in Russia in 1903; came to the U.S., 1912; B.A., Brown, 1923; LL.B., Harvard Law School, 1926, S.J.D., 1927; in 1929 he left the practice of law in New York City to serve as law clerk to Justice Brandeis; in 1930 he came to Yale Law School as an instructor, and was subsequently made Assistant Professor of Law, 1931, Associate Professor, 1933, Professor. 1937, Lines Professor, 1939, and Sterling Professor, 1940; made Dean of Law School, 1954.

Guide to the Harry Shulman Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Bruce P. Stark
January 1983
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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