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Thomas Irwin Emerson papers

Call Number: MS 1622
Scope and Contents
The papers document the career of Thomas Emerson, primarily during his time as a professor at the Yale Law School from 1946 to 1976. Correspondence runs throughout the papers but is concentrated in Series I, residing in both the general correspondence section and the subject files. The subject files consist largely of collected material and detail Emerson's involvement in organizations. His activities on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women are among those most thoroughly documented. The subject files also contain a limited amount of material from the period Emerson spent working for the federal government from 1933 to 1946. The papers include copies of the files the Federal Bureau of Investigation kept on Emerson and large amounts of Emerson's writings and course materials. While his legal career is represented in the papers, legal documentation is not a large part of the collection. Records of Griswold v. Connecticut are present, but not extensive. There is no documentation of Powell v. Alabama or the other "Scottsboro Boys" cases in these papers.

The papers provide a comprehensive view of many of the debates over civil liberties in the United States during the twentieth century. Material within the papers details American society's ongoing struggle to define the boundaries between an individual's rights and government sovereignty in the political, social, and intellectual arenas. Emerson's involvement in the Progressive Party, support of the Equal Rights Amendment, and work on Sweezy v. New Hampshire are well-documented civil liberties issues within the papers, but many others are present in the subject files in Series I. On a more personal note, the Federal Bureau of Investigation files in Series II show how the FBI conducted an investigation of a suspected member of the Communist Party, the scope of the investigation, and the effect it had on the person being investigated. Emerson was one of many people to be investigated in this way by government agencies after World War II.

The Thomas Irwin Emerson Papers were processed as part of a collaborative effort between Manuscripts and Archives and the Yale Law School to document the careers and accomplishments of law school faculty and alumni.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by Thomas Irwin Emerson 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 the Estate of Thomas Irwin Emerson, 1991-1992.
Arranged in four series: I. Correspondence and Subject Files, 1933-1988. II. Personal Papers, 1937-1987. III. Writings, 1947-1987. IV. Course Materials, 1946-1983.
Majority of material found within 1946 - 1976
42 Linear Feet
Related Names
Emerson, Thomas I. (Thomas Irwin), 1907-1991
Language of Materials