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Judge Arlin Adams papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library [Contact Us]3460 Chestnut Street, Biddle Law Library, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3406

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library. 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

Arlin Adams was born on April 16, 1921 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Temple University in 1951 and began attending the University of Pennsylvania Law School (now known as the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School) but left to enlist in the navy during World War II. He returned and finished his law degree in 1946. He also obtained a Master of Arts in Economics from Temple University in 1950.

Post-graduation, Adams worked in private practice at the firm Schnader Harrison Segal and Lewis. He also taught at the University of Pennsylvania from 1952 to 1956 and served as a secretary of public welfare for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1963 to 1966.

In 1969, President Nixon nominated Judge Arlin Adams to the Third Circuit Court. While on the bench, Adams was considered for the Supreme Court on three separate occasions. President Richard Nixion considered nominating Adams in 1971, President Gerald Ford considered nominating Adams in 1975, and in 1987 he was considered for the seat vacated by Lewis Powell. He resigned from the bench in 1988 and returned to private practice at Scnader Harrison Segal and Lewis.

Adams became known for several of his legal cases in the 1990s including his 1995 appointment to serve as a trustee in the New Era bankruptcy case, then the largest nonprofit bankruptcy in history. He also served as independent counsel in the investigation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1998 to 2002.

Adams has been awarded for his involvement in charitable and educational organizations. Throughout this life, he served on many boards including the William Penn Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Board of Overseers, the Einstein Medical Center, the American Philosophical Center, and the Annenberg Research Institute. In 1997, Judge Adams received the Philadelphia Award for service to the community and in 1999 he received the Philadelphia Bar Association's Gold Medal Award. In 2001, Susquehanna University created the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society in his honor and the University of Pennsylvania Law School established the Arlin M. Adams Professorship on Constitutional Law in 2005.

Arlin Adams was married to Neysa Adams, with whom he had three daughters. He was good friends with Walter Annenberg, another winner of the Philadelphia award, a philanthropist, and owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Arlin Adams passed away in December 2015 at the age of 94.

The Judge Arlin Adams papers, 1945-2012, consist of correspondence, awards, and articles that document Judge Adams' research interests and community involvement.

Series I: Correspondence and Events, 1952-2011, contains letters, programs, press releases, and photographs about events that Adams attended. The folders labeled "Correspondence with other judges" primarily consist of photocopied articles and speeches that judges on the Third Circuit Court shared with Judge Adams. Also included are news clippings that Adams collected about his family, cases, awards, and possible nomination to the Supreme Court.

Series II: Education and Research, 1950-2005, contains a copy of Adams' M.A. thesis, articles and quotations that Adams used for writing speeches, and journal articles about practicing law. The series also contains research material on law and religion. There are lecture notes, paper outlines, and collected articles that Adams used to teach the class "Freedom of Speech and Religion" at Penn Law from 1979 to 1981.

Series III: Board Positions, Appointments, and Honors, 1945-2012, contains certificates, congratulatory letters, photographs, and acceptance speeches from awards or honors that Adams received. Also included are files pertaining to boards that Adams served on including the Albert Einstein Medical Center and the American Philosophical Society. These folders contain awards, press clippings, reports, and correspondence.

Series IV: Mementos, 1976-1981 contains items that Adams collected throughout his involvement in community and professional organizations, including a paper weight from the Federal Bar Association and a plaque from a moot court competition.

The collection is arranged into the following series: Series I. Correspondence and Events, 1952-2011; Series II. Education and Research, 1950-2005; Series III. Board Positions, Appointments, and Honors, 1945-2012; Series IV. Mementos, 1976-1981.

Received from Neysa Adams, 2017.

Processed by Elizabeth Wittrig, March 2022.

University of Pennsylvania: Biddle Law Library
Finding Aid Author
Elizabeth Wittrig
Finding Aid Date
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The archives reserves the right to restrict access to materials of sensitive nature. Please contact the department for further information.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Collection Inventory

Biographies and news clippings on Adams and family, 1960-2011.
Box 1 Folder 1
Event invitations and programs, 1952-2008.
Box 1 Folder 2
Event photographs, 1988, undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Correspondence with Walter and Leonore Annenberg, 1988-1997.
Box 1 Folder 4
Correspondence with Walter and Leonore Annenberg, 1998-2003.
Box 1 Folder 5
Carnegie Centennial: Medal awarded to the Annenbergs, 2001.
Box 1 Folder 6
Walter Annenberg memorial and tributes (includes DVD), 2002.
Box 1 Folder 7
Correspondence with Leonore Annenberg, 2004-2009.
Box 2 Folder 1
Correspondence with religious leaders, 1985-2003.
Box 2 Folder 2
Bryn Mawr College lectures and convocations, 1972-1981.
Box 2 Folder 3
First Amendment Congress, 1980.
Box 2 Folder 4
Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on the Bicentennial of the Constitution (VHS), circa 2003.
Box 2 Folder 5
Philadelphia Bar Association event photographs, 1967-1969.
Box 2 Folder 6
Philadelphia Bar Association Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, 1999-2000.
Box 2 Folder 7
Schnader, Harris, Segal, and Lewis events, 1997-2004.
Box 2 Folder 8
Temple University School of Law correspondence and speech by Robert L. Johnson, 1954 and 1975.
Box 2 Folder 9
Third Circuit Court correspondence with judges, 1980-1981.
Box 2 Folder 10
Third Circuit Court correspondence re: rules and procedures, 2001-2010.
Box 2 Folder 11
University of Pennsylvania events, 1968, 1994-2000.
Box 2 Folder 12

"Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act," thesis by Adams for M.A. at Temple University, 1950.
Box 3 Folder 1
"Freedom of speech and religion" class taught by Adams at Penn Law, 1979-1981.
Box 3 Folder 2
Resources on law and religion, 1970-1981.
Box 3 Folder 3
Resources on law and religion, 1982-2002.
Box 3 Folder 4
"The American Constitutional Heritage of Religious Liberty," book draft by Adams, 1993.
Box 3 Folder 5
Quotations for speeches and opening anecdotes, 1963-1965.
Box 3 Folder 6
Research materials and notes for speeches, 1950-1983.
Box 4 Folder 1-2
"Extended excerpts" VHS, 1993 June 30.
Box 4 Folder 3
Supreme Court Opinions, 1972-1975.
Box 4 Folder 4
Supreme Court Opinions, 1976-1980.
Box 4 Folder 5
Journal articles on practicing law and the constitution, 1976-2005.
Box 5 Folder 1

Awards and membership certificates, 1957-1999.
Box 5 Folder 2
Albert Einstein Medical Center, 1981-2002.
Box 5 Folder 3
American Bar Association gold medal, 1999-2002.
Box 5 Folder 4
American Philosophical Society, 1981-2002.
Box 5 Folder 5
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law honorary degree, 2012.
Flat File 1 Item 1
Media, Government, and the Law Steering Committee, circa 1970s.
Box 5 Folder 6
Pennsylvania Citizens Council Outstanding Citizen Service award, 1966, 1974.
Box 5 Folder 7
Philadelphia Award, 1997.
Box 5 Folder 8-9
Philadelphia Award: Sandra Day O'Connor presentation, 1997.
Box 5 Folder 10
Philadelphia Bar Association certificates, 1959.
Box 6 Folder 1
Susquehanna University conversation with Arlin Adams VHS, 2005.
Box 6 Folder 2
Susquehanna University Adams Center for Law and Society inaugural lecture, 2002.
Box 6 Folder 3
Susquehanna University Adams Center for Law and Society, 2003-2007.
Box 6 Folder 4
Susquehanna University Adams Center for Law and Society and Neysa Adams Clinic, 2008-2011.
Box 6 Folder 5
University of Pennsylvania Law School Order of the Coif, 1945-1948.
Box 6 Folder 6
University of Pennsylvania Law School awards, 1974-2005.
Box 6 Folder 7

Lincoln College Prep School magnifying glass.
Box 7 Item 1
Marshall Moot Court Competition miniature plaque, 1980-1981.
Box 7 Item 2
Federal Bar Association marble paper weight.
Box 7 Item 3
"World Affairs Council's International Stateman's Award to Mr. Valery Giscard d'Estaing" medal, 1976.
Box 7 Item 4

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