Harold J. Berman papers, 1938-2013, undated

Emory University

Emory Law Archives

Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library

1301 Clifton Road

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Berman, Harold J. (Harold Joseph), 1918-2007.
Title: Harold J. Berman papers, 1938-2013, undated
Call Number:L-027
Extent: 29.77 linear ft. (72 boxes)
Abstract:Professional and personal papers of professor of law and historian Harold J. Berman including correspondence, academic files, writings, subject files, conferences and speaking engagements, and photographs.
Language:Materials in English, German, Portuguese, Albanian, and Russian.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Material in Box 52 is closed until 2045 in accordance with Emory University Archives policy for student educational records.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, 2011. Boxes 49-72 transferred from the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) in 2014.


[after identification of item(s)], Harold J. Berman Papers, Emory Law Archives, Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library, Emory University.


Processed by Joanna D. Rogers, 2011.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Harold Joseph Berman, professor of law and historian, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, on February 13, 1918 to Saul and Emma Kaplan Berman. He earned a B.A. in social philosophy from Dartmouth College in 1938, a Certificate of Graduate Studies from the London School of Economics in 1939, and an M.A. in history from Yale University in 1942. While working towards his M.A. at Yale he also studied law, intending to earn an LL.B., but his legal education was interrupted by the World War II. He entered the U.S. Army in July 1942 and served in Europe until 1945. After the war he returned to Yale, where he completed his LL.B. in 1947. He married Ruth Carol Harlow on June 10, 1941; they had two sons and two daughters.

Berman's first professional position was Assistant Professor of Law at Stanford University during the 1947-1948 academic year. He accepted a post as Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard University in 1948, became Assistant Professor of Law in 1949, and eventually held two chairs: Joseph Story Professor of Law from 1973 to 1976 and James Barr Ames Professor of Law from 1976 to 1985. At Harvard, Berman flourished as a specialist in Soviet law and private international law. He established relationships with scholars in the U.S.S.R. and other eastern European countries, and he traveled to the Soviet Union many times. In addition to teaching and writing, Berman worked as a consultant to law firms and businessmen on legal aspects of trade and investment in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Later in his Harvard career, Berman spent more time pursuing his interest in the dialectics of law and religion in Western history. In 1974, he published The Interaction of Law and Religion, a collection of lectures he had delivered at Boston University in 1971. His major work, Law and Revolution: The Formation of the Western Legal Tradition, was published in 1983, and won the American Bar Association's SCRIBES Book Award.

Berman left Harvard in 1985 to become the first Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Law at Emory University, a position he held until his death in 2007. He aided in the development of Emory's interdisciplinary law and religion program, founded in 1982, now known as the Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR). He was also a Senior Fellow at CSLR.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Berman continued to promote Russian studies, and he taught courses on problems and trends in Russian law. In 1997, he co-founded the World Law Institute with the mission of sponsoring education in fields of law relating to the world economy, world organizations, and the emerging international common law of human rights, protection of the environment, and procedures of dispute settlement.

Professor Berman died on November 13, 2007 in New York.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the professional and personal papers of Harold J. Berman from 1938 to 2013. The bulk of the collection consists of Berman's extensive collection of writings that span his career. Materials include early drafts and notes from many of his books including Law and Language: Effective Symbols of Community, drafts and publications of numerous articles and other writings by Berman, as well as statements, book reviews, and writings of others. Also includes correspondence to and from scholars, jurists, government officials, students, friends, and family. Prominent correspondents include: Jimmy Carter, Erwin Griswold, John T. Noonan, Jr., and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.

The collection records Berman's activities as a faculty member at Harvard University and Emory University; his work as a writer, lecturer, and consultant; and his intellectual development as an historian.

Arrangement Note

Organized into twelve series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Writings, (3) Harvard University, (4) Emory University, (5) Subject files, (6) Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, (7) Consulting work, (8) Conferences and speaking engagements, (9) Photographs, (10) Other Papers, (11) Russian Periodicals, and (12) Additions.

Description of Series