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Charles Edward Clark papers

Call Number: MS 1344

Scope and Contents

The documentation for Clark's career prior to his appointment to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1939 is fragmentary. Only a few pieces of memorabilia and correspondence have survived from his six years (1913-1919) of private law practice. From his years as a faculty member and Dean of the Yale Law School (1919-1939) approximately five inches of correspondence and several sections of research files have been preserved. The bulk of his administrative files as Dean are missing and presumed to have been destroyed. Researchers interested in the academic portion of Clark's career should consult the records of University Presidents James R. Angell and Charles Seymour; the University Provosts; and the members of the Law School Faculty.

Fortunately, the records relating to Clark's work as reporter for the United States Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Civil Procedure (1935-1956) have survived intact.

In marked contrast to the materials from Clark's academic career, the documentation for his years on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals is both detailed and extensive.

The Clark Papers are organized in six series:







The materials in Series I, GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE 1920-1963, are subdivided into two sections. Correspondence 1920-1939 contains the relatively few letters which have survived from Clark's pre-Court of Appeals career and includes the correspondence relating to his court appointment. Correspondents of note include Benjamin Cardozo, Homer Cummings, Felix Frankfurter, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Franklin D. Roosevelt (telegrams), and Harlan Stone.

Correspondence 1939-1963 reflects Clark's interest and work on a broad range of legal and judicial issues. The correspondence was written and received in his capacity as a lawyer and judge, but it is not specifically concerned with Second Circuit work (see below, Series II). Among the correspondents of note are: Thurman Arnold, Edwin Borchard, Jerome Davis, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, James W. Moore, Eugene Rostow, Frederick Rodell, Potter Stewart, and Harlan Stone.

Series II, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND DISTRICT 1939-1963, provides virtually complete documentation of Clark's years on the court. The records are subdivided into eight sections:

Docket books

Case files

Motion files

Correspondence with Court of Appeals judges

General court business correspondence

Circuit Council

Judicial Conference

Law Clerks

Series III, RESEARCH FILES, contains correspondence, memoranda, notes, and report drafts relating to Clark's legal research as a scholar and as a member of various research groups and professional committees. The series is subdivided into eleven sections:

Law administration, the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement 1929-1933 study of federal law administration.

Social trends, the President's Research Committee on Social Trends' data collection on social change in the United States, 1930-1933. Clark, with William O. Douglas, was principal investigator for law and legal institutions.

Automobile accidents, research conducted during 1929-1933 by the Commission to Study Compensation for Automobile Accidents, under the auspices of the Council for Research in the Social Sciences of Columbia University.

Connecticut Commission on the Reorganization of State Departments, Clark was Vice-Chairman 1935-1936.

Connecticut Legislative Commission on Jails 1931-1938.

American Bar Association, Coordination Committee, 1934-1935 study of plans for reorganizing the American Bar Association.

American Bar Association, Committee on Co-operation with the Bench and Bar, Clark was Chairman 1934-1936.

Puerto Rican Courts, Clark's study of the Puerto Rican judicial system and correspondence with members of the Puerto Rican judiciary and bar association 1949-1963.

Connecticut Commission on State Government Reorganization, 1949-1951 study and report on the Connecticut judicial system directed by Clark.

Institute of Judicial Administration, Inc., 1953-1963, studies, minutes of meetings, correspondence relating to Clark's work as a member of the Institute's Board of Fellows.

Miscellaneous topics including the Connecticut Judicial Council 1927-1930; research memoranda related to the business of federal courts 1934; Code Pleading research notes 1927-1928; National Conference of Commissions on Uniform State Laws, Committee on Corpus and Law, 1927-1933; research notes and memoranda relating to President Roosevelt's plan for reorganization of the Supreme Court, 1937.

Series IV, THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON RULES FOR CIVIL PROCEDURE, contains the papers related to Clark's work as committee reporter 1935-1956. The records include preparatory papers, committee proceedings, rule drafts reports, and correspondence arranged in three chronological subdivisions: 1935-1939, 1943-1950, and 1952-1956.

Series V, BIBLIOGRAPHY AND WRITINGS, contains a copy of a bibliography of Clark's work compiled by Solomon Smith in 1968 and several drafts of addresses and articles. Copies of the bulk of Clark's writings are not present in the series, but are accessible through normal bibliographic channels.

Series VI, PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE, MEMORABILIA, FAMILY RECORDS, is subdivided into ten sections: Personal Correspondence 1915-1962, much of which concerns routine family and personal business; Correspondence of Dorothy Clark 1955-1967, containing letters from Thurman Arnold and a series of letters from Clark's friends and associates after his death, commenting on the significance of his work; Testimonials and resolutions, by professional and academic groups in honor of Clark; Photographs, primarily portraits and of Clark with colleagues and associates; Law School examinations, given by Clark while a faculty member; School and professional memorabilia; Biographical newspaper clippings 1907-1963, useful for an overview of Clark's many professional activities; Financial records; Family records; and Diplomas and award certificates.


  • Circa 1905-1968
  • Majority of material found within 1935 - 1963


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Charles Edward Clark has been transferred to Yale University. These materials may be used for non-commercial purposes without seeking permission from Yale University as the copyright holder. For other uses of these materials, please contact

Copyright status for other 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 Charles E. Clark, circa 1940-1959 and of Elias Clark, 1982; transfer from Law School Library, 1983, 2013.

The materials in Series IV, relating to the United States Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules for Civil Procedure, were donated to the Yale University Library by Charles E. Clark during the 1940's and 50's. The bulk of the papers, Series I, II, III, V, and VI were donated to the Yale University Library by Elias Clark in 1982.


The collection is arranged in six series and three additions: I. General Correspondence, 1920-1963. II. United States Court of Appeals for the Second District, 1939-1963. III. Research files, 1929-1963. IV. United States Supreme Court Advisory Comittee on Rules for Civil Procedure, 1935-1956. V. Bibliography and writings, 1926-1968. VI. Personal correspondence, memorabilia, family records, 1907-1967.


59.75 Linear Feet (145 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The bulk of the papers date from 1935-1963 and reflect Clark's position as reporter on the United States Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Rules for Civil Procedure (1935-1956) and as associate judge of the Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit (1939-1963). The papers contain his files for the Committee on Rules for Civil Procedure including preparatory papers, committee proceedings, rule draft reports and correspondence. His years on the Second Circuit Court are documented with complete case and motion files, docket books and correspondence. Also in the papers are extensive research files on law administration, automobile accidents, Puerto Rican courts and the reorganization of state departments in Connecticut. Clark served on Connecticut commissions in 1935-1936 and 1949-1951. His voluminous correspondence (ca. 9 feet) with local and political figures spans the years 1920-1963 and includes Benjamin Cardozo, Felix Frankfurter, Augustus Hand, Learned Hand, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Milton Friedman, James W. Moore, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harlan Stone. There is only a small amount of personal correspondence or papers from his law school career, either as student, professor or dean. (For this period, see the Yale University Archives.) There are, however, family records, financial papers, account books, photographs, biographical newspaper clippings and a bibliography of his work compiled by Solomon Smith in 1968.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Edward Clark was born in Woodbridge, Connecticut on December 9, 1889, the son of Samuel Orman and Pauline C. Marquand Clark. He graduated from Yale College in 1911 and Yale Law School in 1913; in the same year he was admitted to the Connecticut bar.

In 1919, after six years of private practice in New Haven, Clark was appointed to the faculty of the Yale Law School as assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1922, full professor in 1923, the Lines Professorship in 1927, and Sterling Professor of Law in 1929.

He served as Dean of the Law School from 1929 to 1939, one of the most productive and critical periods in the School's history. The Sterling Law Buildings were completed in 1931 and the Faculty of Law expanded. Clark's term as Dean was notable for a reorganization of the School's curriculum to place more emphasis on the social functions of the law, including the interrelation between law and commerce, sociology, medicine, psychology, and economics.

Clark was active in Connecticut politics and served on several committees seeking to improve the State's administrative and judicial systems; these included the Commission on Reorganization of State Executive Departments 1935-1936 and the Commission on State Government Reorganization 1949-1951.

Nationally, Clark was best known for his service on the United States Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Civil Procedure from 1935 to 1956. In his capacity as committee reporter he became the principal architect of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which were adopted for all Federal trial courts and copied by many state courts.

In 1939 he was appointed associate judge of the United States Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit (New York, Connecticut, and Vermont). From 1954 to 1959 he was chief judge of the Court. He resumed his seat as associate judge until his death on December 13, 1963.

Clark was the author of numerous articles and books, including Code Pleading, 1928; Real Covenants, 1929; and Cases on Pleading and Procedure, 2 vols. 1930, 1933.

For further biographical detail see the section of biographical newspaper clippings 1907-1963 in Series VI.

Guide to the Charles Edward Clark Papers
Under Revision
by Mary Benjamin, Teresa Hsu, Matthew Bartley and John Dojka
March 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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