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About this collection

Charles Fairman, soldier and educator, had a distinguished academic career of over sixty years in the subjects of government, political science and the law. He taught first at a private school, then Pomona College, was then a lecturer at Harvard, then a Professor at Williams College, then Stanford, later Washington University in St. Louis, and finally again Harvard.

Fairman also served in the military in both world wars as well as in the reserves between the wars, and by the end of the Second World War, had attained the rank of Colonel in charge of the International Law Section of the U.S. Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps in the European Theater of Operations. In this position he was a consultant to the Army concerning the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. Fairman was a noted expert on military and international law.

Fairman was born on July 27th, 1897 in Alton, Illinois. He received his A.B. and A. M. from the University of Illinois in 1918 and 1920, and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1926. He also did graduate work at the University of Paris in 1925-26. Fairman received an LL.B. from the University of London in 1934, and an S.J.D. from Harvard in 1938. While at Harvard, Fairman studied under Professor Felix Frankfurter, and he would later stay in touch with Frankfurter when Frankfurter became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, as well as correspond with other justices, including Robert H. Jackson.

During his long career Fairman established himself as an eminent historian of the U.S. Supreme Court and of constitutional law, especially concerning the period after the Civil War until the beginning of the 20th Century. Fairman wrote a book length biography of Justice Samuel Miller, and also five articles on Justice Joseph P. Bradley. In 1949 Fairman published a volume on constitutional law entitled American Constitutional Decisions.

The most important part of the collection is the correspondence between Fairman and U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson, written during the time period when the Supreme Court was struggling with numerous cases concerning segregation in education. Fairman was a well-known constitutional scholar at the time, and Jackson was one of the more conservatives Justices then sitting on the court. The Fairman/Jackson correspondence consists of approximately 22 letters, covering the time period 1948-1954, the year of Jackson's death. In the correspondence, the two men discuss Fairman's research and their own opinions concerning the major civil rights issues then before the country and the court.

 
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