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. 

Initial release: late 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. The following are the release protocols for each series.                                   NOTE: Due to COVID-19, release dates have been delayed.

Correspondence files (Series II)

  • Correspondence dated through 1989 will be released in 2020
  • Thereafter, one year at a time opens on a rolling basis: 1990 files open in 2021, 1991 files open in 2022, and so on
  • Last year of correspondence (2016) opens in 2047

Speaking engagements and event files (Series III)

Because these files contain a significant amount of correspondence, they are subject to the correspondence restriction (30 years from date of creation). Access to otherwise unrestricted material within them, such as speeches, speaking notes or photographs will be accommodated as much as possible. 

  • Material dated through 1989 will be released in 2020
  • Thereafter, one year at a time opens on a rolling basis: 1990 files open in 2021, 1991 files open in 2022, and so on
  • Last year of speaking engagements and events (2016) opens in 2047

Court of Appeals (Series IV)

  • 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)

  • 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 and will continue through at least June 2020.

Unrestricted portions of the collection will be digitized over the next few years. Prepping materials for imaging, metadata creation, quality control, and other aspects of the digitization process will likely begin in 2020. Digitized content will eventually be accessible via links in the finding aid. 

We are also working to enhance Scalia's and other federal judges' authority records within SNAC Cooperative. SNAC is an online resource that helps researchers locate archival materials created by or associated with a particular person, family or organization, among other features. 

Harvard Law School Library staff will be reviewing the collection for restrictions and releasing files for at least the next 40 years. 

Finding aid

The 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 (in January 2020 or later), 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 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.

For reproduction requests and publishing, see our 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