Main content

William O. Douglas Oral History Interviews

Notifications

Held at: Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Public Policy Papers. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Douglas, William O. (William Orville), 1898-1980.

William O. Douglas was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. His nearly thirty-seven year tenure as a Supreme Court justice was the longest in the history of the court.

Murphy, Walter F., 1929-2010

Walter Murphy, a political scientist and constitutional scholar, served as the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University. Born on Nov. 21, 1929, and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Murphy was an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, George Washington University, and the University of Chicago. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Korea, receiving the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, a Presidential Unit Citation and three battle stars. Murphy joined the Princeton faculty as an assistant professor of politics in 1958. He was named the McCormick Professor in 1968 and retained that chair until his retirement with emeritus status in 1995. He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve, retiring in 1974 as a colonel.

Consists of tapes and transcriptions of conversations between Associate Justice of the Supreme Court William O. Douglas and Walter F. Murphy, professor of politics at Princeton University. Recorded on 18 separate occasions, the interviews took place from 1961 to 1963 and were transcribed in the Library, but were not edited by either participant.

The interviews cover most of Douglas's government career. Names which occur frequently in the conversations include Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Charles E. Hughes, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harlan Stone, Harry Truman, Fred Vinson, and Earl Warren. There is also discussion concerning the issues of civil rights, habeas corpus, desegregation, and religious freedom, and various case histories including the Rosenberg case, the Minnesota Tea case, Brown vs. the Board of Education, United States vs. South Eastern Underwriters, and Kramer vs. United States.

The tape-recorded conversations were transcribed in one 384-page volume, in chronological order with an index of names. There are 19 actual cassettes, numbered 1-18 (with 7A & 7B).

The transcripts available online were created by converting the original paper transcripts into electronic form using optical character recognition software. The original paper transcripts are no longer available.

William O. Douglas donated the recordings of his oral history to the Princeton University Library in 1965. Douglas's interviewer, Walter F. Murphy, gifted his copyright interest in the recordings to Princeton University in 1999.

An introduction to the collection was written by Walter Murphy in 2000 and is available here.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

In 2000, the original paper transcripts of the recordings were converted into electronic form using optical character recognition software. The text of the transcripts were then coded in HTML, and the transcripts were made available via an old version of the Mudd Library's website.

In 2015, the Microsoft Word documents created by the optical character recognition software were converted to PDFs, and these PDF transcripts were made available via this finding aid.

During a 2020 survey the original 384-page volume of transcriptions was not located, researchers should use the transcriptions that are posted online with each individual interview.

No materials were separated from this collection.

Publisher
Public Policy Papers
Finding Aid Date
2007
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Collection Inventory

Cassette 1, 1961 December 20. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 2, 1961 December 20. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 3, 1961 December 20. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 4, 1961 December 27. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 5, 1961 December 27. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 6, 1962 January 18. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 7a, 1962 January 18. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 7b, 1962 January 18. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 8, 1962 May 23. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 9, 1962 May 23. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 10, 1962 June 9. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 11, 1962 June 9. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 12, 1962 December 18. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 13, 1962 December 17. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 14, 1963 April 5. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 15, 1963 April 5. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 16, 1963 June 5. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 17, 1963 June 5. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Cassette 18, 1963 December 10. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Materials Viewable Online
  1. View digital content
Magnabelt Dictation belts, 1961-1963. 1 box.
Physical Description

1 box

Print, Suggest