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Francis Biddle Collection of International Military Tribunal Nuremberg Trial Documents and Related Material

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

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Biographical History

Francis Biddle, lawyer, Attorney General of the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and member of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, was born in Paris, France, on May 9, 1886, the son of Algernon Sydney and Frances (Robinson) Biddle, and was brought to America in infancy. He attended Haverford School from 1895 to 1899 and Groton School from 1899 to 1905. From Harvard College he received his B.A. cum laude in 1909.

After receiving his LL.B. cum laude from the Harvard Law School in 1911, Mr. Biddle served as private secretary to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes from 1911 to 1912. He practiced law in Philadelphia, first with Biddle, Paul and Jayne, 1912-1915, and then with Barnes, Biddle and Myers, 1917-1939. Mr. Biddle was appointed special assistant to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 1922-1926, first chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, 1934, and chief counsel of the joint Congressional committee to investigate the Tennessee Valley Authority, 1938-1939. He was judge for the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, 3d Circuit, 1939-1940, Solicitor General of the United States, 1940-1941, and Attorney General from September 1941 to June 1945. He was appointed United States member of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg, to which service most of the papers in this collection refer. Mr. Biddle was also a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Among his writings are The Llanfear Pattern, a novel, 1927; Mr. Justice Holmes, 1942; Democratic Thinking and the War, 1944; The World's Best Hope, 1949; The Fear of Freedom, 1951; Justice Holmes, Natural Law and the Supreme Court, 1961; the memoirs A Casual Past, 1961, and In Brief Authority, 1962; and contributions to a number of legal publications. Mr. Biddle died at his home on Cape Cod on October 4, 1968.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Francis Biddle Collection of International Military Tribunal Nuremberg Trial Documents and Related Material is divided into four series: Personal papers, Trial documents, Miscellaneous documents, and Additions.

Personal papers consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1945-1953, arranged chronologically; a journal, "Notes on Conference," in which Mr. Biddle described the preparations for the trial; a pictorial album of Nuremberg autographed by all the judges at the Trial; and five large scrapbooks. Originals of certain letters and the journal, photocopied for preservation, have been placed at the end of the collection and use has been restricted. The scrapbooks contain a wide variety of items: correspondence, postcards, souvenir items, clippings, photographs and more.

Trial documents, 1945-1946, include material relative to the organization and proceedings of the trial of the major war criminals before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Germany. There are two sets of papers for the organizational meetings which have been interfiled chronologically. One set, herein called notes, contains verbatim records of the proceedings. The second set, herein called minutes, contains a summary of the proceedings. From October 9, 1945 through November 15, 1945, there are often two sets of papers for each date, i.e., both notes and minutes. Thereafter, from November 16, 1945 through August 30, 1946, only minutes are available. Supporting material was maintained in Mr. Biddle's original order within the organizational meetings. "Notes on Evidence" is a ten-volume bound typescript summary of evidence heard each day at the trial with personal comments on the proceedings by Biddle. The Trial of Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, published under the Allied Control Authority for Germany (42 vols., Nuremberg, 1946-1949) is the official printed text in English of the proceedings of the trial. Also included are the following documents: a typescript copy of the "Rulings of the Tribunal," with an index whose page references indicate the item numbers of the rulings; memoranda to members of the International Military Tribunal; "Drafts of Judgement" and notes on judgement containing discussions by the judges on the judgement of defendants and for organizations considered criminal. There are also other documents relating to the trial, including some published material consisting of books, articles, and papers arranged alphabetically by author or title.

Bound volumes of trial documents have been assigned numbers for easier identification. A summary of all 69 volumes in the collection is as follows. For more detailed descriptions, including dates of coverage, refer to the Inventory section below.

Miscellaneous documents include published material dealing mainly with aspects of international law as it relates to the trial, arranged alphabetically by author or title.

Additions contains later additions to the collection, including correspondence between Biddle and his wife, spiral notebooks containing Biddle's handwritten notes for his autobiography and a folder of photographs of the trials.

Arrangement of the Collection

See Scope and Content above for a description of how materials are arranged.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Some restrictions on reproduction.

Subject Headings


Biddle, Francis, 1886-1968.
Birkett, Norman Birkett, Baron, 1883-1962.
Donnedieu de Vabres, H. (Henri), 1880-1952.
Pella, Vespasien V., 1897-1952.
Rowe, James H. (James Henry), 1909-1984.
Schacht, Hjalmar Horace Greeley, 1877-1970.
Taylor, Telford.
Wechsler, Herbert, 1909-2000.
Wright, Quincy, 1890-1970.

Corporate Bodies

International Military Tribunal.


Katyn Massacre, Katynʹ, Russia, 1940.
Nuremberg Trial of Major German War Criminals, Nuremberg, Germany, 1945-1946.
War crime trials -- Germany (West) -- Nuremburg.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Atrocities.

Genres and Forms

Legal files.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:
Francis Biddle Collection of International Military Tribunal Nuremberg Trial Documents and Related Material,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Francis Biddle, June 1965 and the Estate of Katherine Chapin Biddle, 1979.

Table of Contents

Personal papers

Trial documents

Miscellaneous documents