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The Harry A. Blackmun Papers at the Library of Congress
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About the Harry A. Blackmun Papers

Harry A. Blackmun was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1970 by Richard Nixon. In May 1997, Justice Blackmun gave his papers to the Library of Congress, where they joined the papers of thirty-eight other justices and chief justices in the Library of Congress. Because an individual's papers can best yield their riches when studied in conjunction with other related collections, Justice Blackmun's decision to place his papers in the Library of Congress should greatly facilitate historical research. At the time of the gift, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington stated, "The papers of the justices are among our most treasured collections. Our holdings will be considerably enhanced by the Blackmun papers. We are honored that Justice Blackmun has placed his trust in the Library."

The papers of Harry Andrew Blackmun (1908-1999), lawyer, judge, and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, are housed in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress. The collection spans the years 1913-2001 with the bulk concentrated from 1959 to 1994. Although the papers chronicle almost every phase of Blackmun's judicial career, the bulk of the material highlights his service as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 1959-1970, and as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, 1970-1994. There are also a few items documenting Blackmun's early life as a student at Mechanic Arts High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, his undergraduate and law school studies at Harvard University, and his career as a lawyer in private practice and as resident counsel for the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Association. The Supreme Court File, 1970-1994, comprising over ninety-five percent of the collection, documents Blackmun's twenty-four years of service as an associate justice.

The Blackmun Papers may be viewed in the Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress. In anticipation of high research demand, selected materials from the collection have been digitized and made available at appointed computer workstations within the Library only. A detailed description of the Blackmun Papers is available in a finding aid prepared by the Manuscript Division and can be accessed from the Library’s web site at

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   February 27, 2004
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