Supreme Court Historical Society

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Supreme Court Historical Society

The Supreme Court Historical Society (the Society) is a nonprofit organization incorporated in the District of Columbia. It is dedicated to expanding public awareness of the history and heritage of the Supreme Court of the United States and to preserving historical documents and artifacts relating to the Court's history. The Society conducts public and educational programs, publishes books and periodicals, supports historical research, and collects antiques and period pieces to enhance an appreciation of the history behind the U.S. Constitution and its first interpreters. It supports its programs through member contributions, grants, gifts, and a small endowment. The Society is located in the Opperman House on East Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. It also maintains its own website located at <>.

Founded in 1974 by the late Chief Justice warren e. burger, the Society has approximately 6,000 individual members who volunteer services on its standing and ad hoc committees; the committees report to an elected Board of Trustees. The Chief Justice of the United States serves as Honorary Chairman of the Society. Former Chief Justice Burger served as the Society's first chairman. Retired Associate Justice byron r. white is an honorary member of the Board of Trustees.

The Society's most ambitious historic project to date has been the research and publication of the first six volumes of the Documentary History of the Supreme Court, 1789 to 1800. This series is projected to require at least two more volumes and represents the reconstruction of an accurate record of the development of the federal judiciary in the formative decade between 1789 and 1800. The series has been published by the Columbia University Press. Another scholarly publication is the Society's Supreme Court of the United States 1789–1990: An Index to Opinions Arranged by Justice, which is updated periodically. The three-volume publication is the only printed resource of all the opinions of each justice and thus provides easy reference to each individual's contribution to the United States Reports, the official record of the Court's opinions. Additionally, a pilot program of oral recorded histories, documenting the careers and service of retired Supreme Court Justices, has been in progress. Thus far, the Society has completed oral histories of the late Associate Justices harry blackmun, william j. brennan jr., thurgood marshall, and louis f. powell.

Semi-annually, the Society publishes the Journal of Supreme Court History, which features articles by the justices, noted academicians, solicitors general, and other noted contributors. Special topic publications by the Society include The Supreme Court in the Civil War, The Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court Revisited: Brandeis to Fortas, and The Supreme Court in World War II. The Society's quarterly newsletter for its members contains short historical articles and news of programs and activities.

For the general public, the Society co-publishes an ongoing illustrated history of the Court, Equal Justice Under Law, in conjunction with the National Geographic Society. In cooperation with Congressional Quarterly, Inc., the Society published The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789–1995, a collection of biographies of 108 current and former justices.

Another important part of the Society's activities is its co-sponsorship of the National Heritage Lecture, rotating the hosting of the annual event with the White House Historical Association and the U.S. Capitol Historical Society. Along with Street Law, Inc., it also conducts the Supreme Court Summer Institute, a program for secondary school teachers to help them develop in their students an awareness of their rights and duties as citizens. It has developed a special "landmark cases" volume as an education tool for teachers, that provides extensive information on some of the Court's most important cases, many of which have been included in states' standards for teaching history and government. In 2000 the Society launched a special initiative for high school teachers in the Washington, D.C., public schools.

Finally, the Society conducts an acquisition program, working closely with the Court Curator's office, to locate, acquire, and display the Court's permanent collection of busts and portraits of justices, as well as period furnishings, original documents, and private papers, and other artifacts relating to the Court and its history. Many of these items are on display or otherwise made available for the benefit of the Court's one million annual visitors.

Further readings

U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society website. Available online at <> (accessed February 1, 2004).

References in periodicals archive ?
Mail at Nominating Committee, Florida Supreme Court Historical Society, 1947 Greenwood Drive, Tallahassee 32303.
Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop is a necklace displaying a John Marshall Coin with a rope edge.
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At the request of David Long, the director of research at the State Bar, the committee investigated and drafted a proposal for the formation of a California Supreme Court Historical Society, similar to existing societies in the federal court system.
The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society serves as an important reminder of our past, which should convince all of us that our progress and search for the most effective judicial system is a continuing process.
To expedite the project, Florida Supreme Court Historical Society approved a grant of $2,500 and opened applications to registered student organizations at FSU's School of Law, willing to provide 225 hours of volunteer time.
The Florida Supreme Court Historical Society is seeking judges, lawyers, law teachers, or other eminently qualified citizens to serve on its board of trustees.
At a time when lawyers are making more money than ever, "we are starving the justice system," David Boies said at a keynote address at the recent Florida Supreme Court Historical Society Annual Dinner in Tallahassee.
Attorney David Boies will provide the keynote address at the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society Annual Dinner Janaury 28 in Tallahassee.

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