Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Corwin, Edward Samuel, 1878-1963.
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Edward S. Corwin Papers
Public Policy Papers
Permanent URL:
1860-1961 (mostly 1920-1958)
24 boxes
Storage Note:
Mudd Manuscript Library (mudd): Box 1-24


This collection contains correspondence, speeches, lecture notes, writings, and photographs of Edward S. Corwin, a noted constitutional scholar who taught at Princeton University for much of his academic career. Nationally-known and widely published, Corwin consulted with many other academics as well as politicians involved with constitutional issues, most notably when he publicly supported Franklin D. Roosevelt's Supreme Court reorganization ("court packing") plan.

Collection Description & Creator Information


These papers document Edward Corwin's personal and professional life, including his time as chair of the Politics Department at Princeton University. The collection includes files on subjects such as church-state relations, the commerce clause, civil rights, due process of law, the Presidency, the Bricker Amendment, and American foreign policy.


Organized into the following series:

Series 1 and 7 are arranged topically. Series 2 and 3 are arranged alphabetically by last name of correspondent. Series 4, 5, and 6 are arranged alphabetically by subject or title.

Collection Creator Biography:

Corwin, Edward Samuel, 1878-1963.

Edward S. Corwin was born to Frank Adelbert and Dora Lyndon Corwin in Plymouth, Michigan on January 19, 1878. He was president of his class and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Michigan in 1900. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1905. He married Mildred Sutcliffe Smith on June 28, 1909.

Corwin was a renowned authority on United States constitutional law and theory, administrative law, international law, and jurisprudence. One of the original group of preceptors hired at Princeton University by Woodrow Wilson in 1905, Corwin became a full professor in 1911 and assumed Wilson's McCormick Professorship in Jurisprudence in 1918. Corwin was also the first chairman of Princeton's Department of Politics, which he headed from 1924 to 1935.

A prolific author, Corwin wrote more than 20 books, including The Constitution and What It Means Today (1928). His other books include John Marshall and the Constitution (1919); The Twilight of The Supreme Court (1935); The Commerce Power Versus States Rights--Back to the Constitution (1936); Court Over Constitution (1938); The President--Office and Powers (1940); Constitutional Revolution (1941); The Constitution and World Organization (1944); Total War and the Constitution (1947); Liberty Against Government (1948); and A Constitution of Powers in a Secular State (1951). Corwin was also co-editor of The War Cyclopedia (1917).

In addition to teaching and writing, Corwin was an advisor to the Public Works Administration in 1935, and in 1936 and 1937 he served under the U.S. Attorney General as a special assistant and consultant on constitutional questions. In 1937 he gave full support to President Roosevelt's Supreme Court reorganization plan. In 1954 he served as chairman of a national committee which opposed the Bricker Amendment to restrict the treaty-making powers of the President.

Corwin was a president of the American Political Science Association and a member of the American Philosophical Society. He was also a member of the American Historical Association, the Southern Political Science Association and the Institut International de Droit Public.

Corwin retired from Princeton in 1946 as McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Emeritus. Following his retirement, he taught at Columbia University, the University of Virginia, New York University School of Law, Emory University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Washington though he continued to live in Princeton. He died on April 29, 1963.

Collection History


Papers were sent from Corwin's home to Princeton University on July 31, 1963.

Archival Appraisal Information:

Records were pre-sorted and some were removed by Gerald Garvey before transfer to Princeton in 1963. No information is available about whether records have been separated from this collection while at Princeton.


The creation of this finding aid was made possible by the generous support of the Princeton University Class of 1927.

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Edward Jaramillo (Class of 1996), Theresa Marchitto, and Monica Ruscil from 1993-1996 with support from the Class of 1927 and from Alan Gettner and Henriette Herrman Gettner, son and widow of Victor S. Gettner, Class of 1927. Finding aid written by Edward Jaramillo in 1996.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. For quotations that are fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For those few instances beyond fair use, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold the copyright and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from the Mudd Library to move forward with their use.

Credit this material:

Edward S. Corwin Papers; Public Policy Papers, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library
65 Olden Street
Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
(609) 258-6345