Scalia papers

Collection overview

Justice Antonin Scalia's papers were donated to the Harvard Law School Library following Scalia's death in 2016. The collection consists of approximately 400 linear feet of papers, photographs and audiovisual material. Professional areas of his work covered by these papers include the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, public appearances and other events, and to a small extent, teaching and writing. 

Please note that: 

  • The collection is heavily restricted: many portions are closed to the public for years. These restrictions are the result of negotiations between Scalia's estate and the Harvard Law School Library. 
  • E-mails and other electronic files were not part of the donation. 
  • Records from Scalia's government positions in the Nixon and Ford administrations were not part of the donation. 
  • Cert pool memoranda from the Supreme Court were not part of the donation. 
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, processing work on this collection has been significantly delayed.

Initial release: January 2020

The initial release of material, representing about 15% of the total collection, consists of:

  • Pre-Supreme Court files, 1970-1986 (Series I)
  • Correspondence files (through 1989 only) (Series II - partial)
  • Speaking engagements and event files (through 1989 only) (Series III - partial)
  • Photographs and audiovisual material, circa 1975-2016 (Series VII)
  • Miscellaneous material such as subject files and articles about Scalia, 1986-2016 (Series VIII)

Anticipated file release schedule

Due to the collection's restrictions, files will be released periodically as described below.

Correspondence files (Series II)

Correspondence will be opened on a rolling basis. The final year of correspondence (2016) will be open in 2047 (30 years from date of creation).

Speaking engagements and event files (Series III)

Series III files contain a significant amount of correspondence, which will be available 30 years from date of creation. The final year of Series III files (2016) opens in 2047.

Court of Appeals (Series IV)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work on Series IV is significantly delayed. This series will remain closed until review work resumes. When work  resumes, to the extent possible case files will open upon the death of judges who participated in individual cases with Scalia.

  • All case files are expected to be open by 2050, though individual items within case files may be closed for longer
  • Additional Court of Appeals material (correspondence & subject files) is under review for restrictions

Supreme Court (Series V & VI)

To the extent possible given delays due to COVID-19, case files from a particular term will open upon the death of all other justices serving with Scalia during that term.

  • All case files are expected to be open by 2060, though individual items within files may remain closed for longer
  • Some Supreme Court files may be closed beyond the death of justices - these include conference files and other administrative records

Ongoing collection work

Archivists are surveying the papers, occasionally reorganizing material to facilitate access, inventorying and describing the collection in a finding aid, and replacing folders and boxes as needed for preservation purposes. The work began in August 2018. Library staff will  be reviewing the collection for restrictions and releasing the files for at least the next 40 years.

Finding aid

The Antonin Scalia papers finding aid (also known as a collection guide) provides detailed information about the material currently open for research. 

Making an appointment to see the papers

To consult the Scalia papers, contact us via email at or use our online appointment request form. Appointments are available Tuesday-Friday between 10:00 and 5:00. Special hours and closings can be found on our website

Photograph of researchers in the Historical & Special Collections reading room, the Root Room

Photograph by Brooks Kraft, 2014

Publishing, citing and reproduction

When citing the collection (once it becomes available), we ask at a minimum that the citation consist of:

  • Title and date of the item
  • Name of the collection
  • Name of the repository
  • Location in the collection (box and folder information)

Example (hypothetical): Roscoe Pound to Louis Brandeis, December 28, 1936, The Antonin Scalia Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Box 10, Folder 12.

Check out our reproduction and publication policies

For photographs in the Scalia papers, please note that HLS likely does not hold copyright over them. Researchers are responsible for determining copyright and usage permissions. 

Questions? Contact us

Historical & Special Collections
(617) 495-4550

Harvard Law School Library
Langdell Hall
1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138