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Nathaniel L. Nathanson (1908-1983) Papers

Identifier: 17/1

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Scope and Contents

The Nathaniel L. Nathanson Papers fill 32 boxes, including two half-size boxes and are arranged in eight subseries: biographical materials, correspondence files, teaching files, administrative files, research and consulting files, professional organization files, papers presented before professional organizations and publications. A small amount of legal-size materials are arranged at the end of the series.

The biographical materials include curricula vitae, partial bibliographies and diaries with scattered, brief entries for professional and personal activities.

The correspondence files form the largest subseries, occupying ten boxes. Nathanson and his correspondents wrote on a wide variety of professional, educational and personal matters. The correspondence is an important source of information and commentary on prominent American jurists. Several photocopied letters from Felix Frankfurter are filed here. Nathanson wrote several articles about Supreme Court Justice Brandeis, and frequently referred to him in his correspondence (e.g., letter from Nathanson to Stanley Kaplan, March 3, 1980, Box 8, Folder 5). There are also several letters to and from Justice John Paul Stevens, a Northwestern University Law School student of Nathanson.

The teaching files fill eight and one-half boxes and include material from Nathanson's four decades of teaching at Northwestern as well as from his work as a visiting professor at Arizona State University and the Universities of Washington, San Diego, and California, San Francisco. Nathanson's two major courses were administrative law and constitutional law. Toward the end of his career he developed a popular course on contemporary litigation before the United States Supreme Court. This subseries comprises case notes, schedules and reading lists, exam sheets and student bluebooks, grade sheets, student papers, and correspondence arranged first by institution, and then by course, title or topic. A small amount of administrative files pertain to Northwestern Law School programs and committees, including the 1970-71 committee to select the school's dean.

The research and consulting files provide a partial picture of Nathanson's varied interests in legal, political and community issues. These files are arranged alphabetically by subject headings. Of particular interest are Nathanson's files on the Administrative Conference of the United States.

The professional organization files demonstrate Nathanson's strong advocacy on behalf of civil rights issues and cases both in the United States and abroad. The bulk of this subseries deals with the Japanese American Society for Legal Studies. Nathanson served as the Society's American Representative Director for several years, arranged lectures and itineraries for several visiting lawyers and judges from Japan, and founded and edited the society's Newsletter.

The papers presented before professional societies illustrate both Nathanson's professional interests and concerns as well as his popularity as a speaker. Civil rights, legal procedures, administrative and constitutional law and the United Nations are among the issues and topics Nathanson most frequently addressed.

The publications subseries includes published and unpublished books and articles. Nathanson was a contributor to and co-author of the Administrative Law Case Book. He and several colleagues were at work on the fifth edition when Nathanson died. With the manuscript of Nathanson's unpublished book, The History of Peace-Keeping Assessments, is a letter from Alger Hiss in which Hiss comments on, among other things, two papers by Nathanson.


  • 1924-1985


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


39.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Nathaniel Louis Nathanson taught law at Northwestern University, beginning as assistant professor in 1936, named Northwestern University's Frederick P. Vose Professor of Law in 1968, and professor emeritus in 1977. The Nathaniel L. Nathanson Papers are arranged in eight subseries: biographical materials, correspondence files, teaching files, administrative files, research and consulting files, professional organization files, papers presented before professional organizations and publications.

Arrangement Note

The biographical materials are arranged alphabetically by document type.

General correspondence is arranged chronologically. It is followed by an alphabetically arranged set of folders of key correspondents.

Teaching files, Administrative files, and Research files are each arranged alphabetically by topic, and chronologically within topic.

Professional societies materials are arranged alphabetically by organization. They are followed by papers presented before Professional Societies, which are arranged alphabetically by title.

Publications distinguish materials related to books from those related to articles, and are subsequently arranged alphabetically by title.

Method of Acquisition

The Nathaniel L. Nathanson Papers were donated to Northwestern University Archives by Mrs. Leah Nathanson on August 13, 1984 (Accession 84-126).

Separated Materials

Four folders of material on the Northwestern University Law School's Van Leer Conferences have been transferred to the Archives' general reference files.

Other Descriptive Information

For biographical materials, see Boxes 1, 33, and 35.

Index to Prominent Correspondents

Name                         Date             Box and Folder

Ball, Joseph H. Nov. 2, 1945       Box 1, Folder 13 Brademas, John March 24, 1960    Box 2, Folder 8 Brandeis, Louis Nov. 17, 1931- June 12, 1941 Box 34, Folder 11 Clark, Ramsey         March 7, 1967      Box 4, Folder 1 Clark, Ramsey         March 23, 1967    Box 4, Folder 1 Clark, Ramsey         Mar. 23, 1967      Box 34, Folder 12 Cowen, Zelman April 21, 1980       Box 8, Folder 6 Cowen, Zelman April 14, 1981       Box 8, Folder 5 Dirksen, Everett M. May 4, 1964       Box 3, Folder 2 Drinan, Robert F. March 24, 1973    Box 20, Folder 3 Drinan, Robert F. Sept. 24, 1973       Box 23, Folder 10 Drinan, Robert F. May 23, 1974       Box 6, Folder 5 Drinan, Robert F. Nov. 11, 1974       Box 25, Folder 12 Fowler, Henry H. July 12, 1966       Box 3, Folder 6 Frankfurter, Felix July 13, 1933- Nov. 21, 1961 Box 34, Folder 14 Guffey, Joseph F. May 6, 1946       Box 2, Folder 1 Hiss, Alger         Dec. 21, 1966      Box 27, Folder 8 Hoover, J. Edgar March 11, 1970    Box 5, Folder 1 Kennedy, John F. Apr. 25, 1961     Box 34, Folder 17 Koch, Edward         Nov. 4, 1975     Box 23, Folder 1 Long, Edward V. Sept. 17, 1963     Box 22, Folder 6 Long, Edward V. Jan. 8, 1964     Box 22, Folder 5 McMahon, Brien Nov. 2, 1945     Box 1, Folder 13 Mack, Julian         Mar. 31, 1935- July 26, 1938 Box 34, Folder 18 Mikva, Abner         May 20, 1972      Box 5, Folder 7 Pepper, Claude Oct. 14, 1983     Box 9, Folder 4 Pepper, Claude Jan. 13, 1984     Box 34, Folder 9 Percy, Charles H. July 15, 1974     Box 25, Folder 12 Rehnquist, William H. Oct. 29, 1975 Box 7, Folder 2 Stevens, John Paul Nov. 29, 1979     Box 8, Folder 4 Stevens, John Paul Feb. 12, 1980     Box 8, Folder 5 Stevens, John Paul May 5, 1980     Box 8, Folder 6 Stevenson, Adlai E. Aug. 7, 1947     Box 2, Folder 4 Stevenson, Adlai E. April 14, 1959     Box 10, Folder 7 Stevenson, Adlai E. III July 30, 1971 Box 23, Folder 10 Walker, Dan         Nov. 17, 1970     Box 5, Folder 3 Yates, Sidney R. Sept. 13, 1963     Box 9, Folder 4 Yates, Sidney R. April 30, 1974     Box 25, Folder 12 Yates, Sidney R. July 12, 1974     Box 6, Folder 5 Yates, Sidney R. June 15, 1976     Box 25, Folder 4

Processing Information

William K. Beatty, March - May, 1985.

Guide to the Nathaniel L. Nathanson (1908-1983) Papers
William K. Beatty
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US