The University of Texas at Austin

Guide to Law-related Resources
at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC)



The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC) is geared toward historical research. The HRC contains both published (e.g., books, sound recordings, music) and unpublished (e.g., manuscripts and archival) collections, as well as photographic and iconographic collections. Each collection may contain a variety of subjects.

Librarians from the HRC and the Tarlton Law Library have identified the following collections as being of particular interest to law-related research. Additional information can be found in A Guide to the Collections: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (Austin, Tex.: The Center, University of Texas at Austin, 2003).


Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) Collection of Wilkie Collins (1824-1889): The collection includes a first edition of Collins's Moonstone, the first detective novel published in English, as well as manuscripts and correspondence relating to Sayers' biography of Collins.

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970): One of America's leading writers of detective fiction. The collection includes material from publication of his first Perry Mason book in 1932 until his death in 1970. The collection contains 4,000 scripts of the Perry Mason radio show and TV scripts with notes written by Gardner. There are photos, news clippings, letters, dictation tapes, and correspondence between the author and his publisher. An exact replica of Gardner's study is located on the 4th floor of the Flawn Academic Center.

Ellery Queen Collection of Mystery and Detective Fiction: Ellery Queen is the pseudonym for cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee. Dannay's collection of important editions of mystery and detective fiction was acquired by the HRC in 1959. The Queen Collection is the central focus for a larger library of research materials relating to crime, detection, and law enforcement. The collection includes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's (1859-1930) reference library of true crime. The 160 titles in the collection range from the 18th to the 20th centuries and include verbatim legal reports of celebrated trials, commercially published accounts of famous crimes and criminals, court martial proceedings, memoirs of detectives, and reports on London prisons, etc. Many volumes were previously in the library of William S. Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame.


Morris Ernst (1888-1976) Papers: Ernst was a New York lawyer who represented individuals and organizations whose civil liberties were challenged. He argued and won the landmark federal case in 1933 that exonerated the publishers of James Joyce's Ulysses from charges of obscenity. Among Ernst's friends were Harry S. Truman and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The collection contains legal briefs, memoranda, and correspondence with John Dos Passos, Louis Untermeyer, Theodore Dreiser, and Carl Van Doren (among others).

H. Montgomery Hyde (1907-1989): Hyde was a historian of criminal law related to social history. He served in Parliament from 1950-1959 and was a legal advisor for the British Lion film company. Hyde was prominent for fighting to abolish the death penalty. He also campaigned for social reform for censorship and tried to establish civil rights for homosexuals. The Hyde Collection contains research for his book, A History of Pornography, including correspondence with his attorney, and materials relating to the case of Oscar Wilde and the treason case of Sir Roger Casement.

New York Journal-American Newspaper Morgue: In 1937, William Randolph Hearst combined the New York Evening Journal and the New York American to form the New York Journal-American. The morgue of these papers runs from 1895-1966. Over a million prints and two million negatives document a Hearst's eye-view of American history including wars, politicians, actors and actresses, gangsters and more, with a particular emphasis on events in and around New York. The Ransom Center also houses a complete microfilm set of the Journal-American and its predecessors. The five-million-article clippings file was transferred to the Center for American History in 1998.


Dulles Family: The Dulles collections include information regarding the formation of the League of Nations, the advent of the Cold War, and World War I diplomacy and negotiations. The papers in the collection include those of the following men, who were all lawyers and all served as Secretary of State during their careers:

Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970), The Court of Last Resort: Gardner's concern for legal rights of the American poor in the 1950s-1960s led him to establish The Court of Last Resort. The panel investigated cases of persons who were unjustly convicted of crimes and who had no further legal counsel. The collection contains correspondence, briefs, case histories and other documents regarding The Court of Last Resort.

J.L. Garvin (1868-1947) Papers: The collection includes extensive correspondence about politics and journalism between the most prominent British politicians of the 1920s and 1930s and J.L. Garvin, then editor of the Observer in London.

Philip J. Jaffe (1895-1980), Collection of Radical Literature: Jaffe was editor of Amerasia: A Review of America and the Far East from 1937-47 and the author of numerous publication on the economics and politics of China, including New Frontiers in Asia: A Challenge to the West (1945). In 1960, the Ransom Center acquired Jaffe's library of 15,000 books, pamphlets, and periodicals on such topics as the U.S.S.R., socialism, communism, the American labor movement, China & India, civil liberties, communism in America & Great Britain,Soviet literature, U.S. foreign affairs, and U.N. economic & social reports.

Oliver LaFarge (1901-1963): The LaFarge collection contains papers, manuscripts, and correspondence relating to Indian rights and the Hopi Constitution. LaFarge was an anthropologist and novelist who helped draft a Constitution for the Hopi Indians, documented in his 116-page manuscript, Running Narrative of the Hopi Tribe of Indians (1936). Other works of non-fiction, novels and short stories include A Pictorial History of the American Indians. Some of these materials may be relevant to the study of Native American law.

Jessica Mitford (1917-): Author of The American Way of Death and Kind and Usual Punishment: The Prison Business. The Mitford Collection contains research materials for the study of the American justice system.

John Valentine Collection of Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945): Collection includes books by and about Roosevelt; volumes from the President's private library; and letters, recordings, portraits, and memorabilia.

Mike Wallace (1918-): The collection includes correspondence and transcripts related to the 1958 "Fund for the Republic" broadcast. The show featured Wallace interviewing people in U.S. politics, religion, education, and economics. Interviewees include Adlai Stevenson, Aldous Huxley, Eleanor Roosevelt, Erich Fromm, Gloria Swanson, Henry Kissinger, Jean Seberg, Margaret Sanger, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Salvador Dali.


Coleridge Family Archive: A number of important lawyers and judges were members of the Coleridge family. In addition to historic family materials, the collection includes manuscript materials for more than 100 of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's (1772-1834) works.

Joseph Story (1779-1845): The papers of former Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story include the Story family papers; personal writings by the Justice; several legal opinions in his own hand; letters to his son, William Wetmore, a novelist and sculptor; and published documents.


Using the HRC

HRC web page:

Contacts: For reference assistance, email or call 512-471-9119.

Location: The HRC is located at the northeast corner of Guadalupe and 21st Streets. You do not need to make an appointment, but it's a good idea to check the Center's web site and call ahead before you visit (512-471-9119).

Hours for the Library Reading Room: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm and Saturday, 9am - 12pm. Requests for materials cannot be processed later than ½ hour prior to closing, and certain materials require 24 hours notice to be paged from offsite locations. The HRC does not circulate its materials, so please plan your time accordingly.

Registration Procedures: Anyone can use the HRC collections. After arriving, you will need to check in with the receptionist. First-time visitors will need to fill out a registration form and present a photo ID. From there, you will be directed to the reference librarian on duty who can help you with your request.

Finding Materials: With rare exceptions, HRC books are cataloged on the UTNETCAT system. Terminals are available within the reading room. Several finding aids for the manuscript holdings are available at the HRC website: Many additional collections are not described online, but can be fully accessed through the card catalog in the reading room. Please consult a reference librarian for further assistance.

Policies: Laptop computers and tape recorders are permitted in the reading room. Any handwritten notes will need to be taken in pencil on yellow paper (provided). Any white papers that researchers bring will need to be individually stamped. Lockers are available for other personal belongings.

Photocopying: HRC staff does all photocopying. Photocopying of published material is restricted to the minimum allowed by copyright law and may be denied if it is judged that the material might be damaged by photocopying. Photocopies of most manuscript materials require an Authorization Form for Photoduplication of Original Materials signed by the copyright holder. This form is available online at: Many estates and copyright holders can be found in the HRC's WATCH File, a large database of contact information for this purpose, at It is the researcher's responsibility to obtain this authorization.

Compiled by Jill Duffy, with assistance from Rachel Howarth. Revised October 2001 by Amy Filiatreau; revised January 2004 by Michael Widener.

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