Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Supreme Court of the United States

(Record Group 267)
1772-1997 (bulk 1790-1984)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 267.1 Administrative History
  • 267.2 Records of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture 1772-89
  • 267.3 Records of the Supreme Court of the United States 1790-1997
    • 267.3.1 General records
    • 267.3.2 Appellate jurisdiction records
    • 267.3.3 Original jurisdiction records
    • 267.3.4 Records relating to ex parte and miscellaneous cases
  • 267.4 Records of the Office of the Clerk 1790-1961
  • 267.5 Records of the Office of the Marshal 1864-1940
  • 267.6 Cartographic records (General)
  • 267.7 Motion Pictures (General)
  • 267.8 Sound recordings (General)
267.1 Administrative History

Established: By authority of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789 (1 Stat. 73), as provided for in article III, section 1, of the Constitution. Organized on February 2, 1790.

Functions: Adjudicates original or appellate jurisdiction cases arising under the Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made under their authority; cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; cases of admiralty and maritime law; controversies in which the United States is a party; and cases arising between one state and citizens of another state, two or more states, citizens of different states, citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, or between a state or its citizens and foreign states, citizens, or subjects. Promulgates rules governing proceedings in bankruptcy, admiralty, and copyright cases; appellate proceedings in criminal cases involving federal law or constitutional issues; and criminal petty offense proceedings before U.S. commissioners.

Finding Aids: Marion Johnson, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, PI 139 (1973); supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

Related Records:
Record copies of publications of the U.S. Supreme Court in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.
Records of District Courts of the United States, RG 21.
General Records of the Department of Justice, RG 60.
Records of U.S. Attorneys, RG 118.
Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, RG 204.
Records of the Solicitor of the Treasury, RG 206.
Records of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, RG 276.
Records of the United States Marshals Service, RG 527.

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267.2 Records of the Court of Appeals in Cases of Capture

History: Appeals from state courts in cases of ships captured as prizes were heard by committees of the Continental Congress from 1776 to 1780. On January 15, 1780, the Congress established a Court of Appeals consisting of three judges to hear such cases. To the court were transferred pending appeals and related records. By the end of 1784 the court had acted on all cases before it, and in 1785 Congress suspended salary payments to the judges. The court was reconvened in 1786, and its last session was held on May 16, 1787. The records of the court were placed in the custody of the Supreme Court by an act of May 8, 1792 (1 Stat. 279).

Textual Records: Revolutionary War prize case files, 1776-86. Miscellaneous case papers, 1772-84, and court records, 1777-89.

Microfilm Publications: M162.

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267.3 Records of the Supreme Court of the United States

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267.3.1 General records

Textual Records: Engrossed minutes, 1790-1954. Rough minutes, 1790-1985. Journals, 1890-1981. Engrossed dockets and docket cards, 1791-1991. Microfilm copy of docket cards, 1982 (2 rolls). Rough dockets, 1803-1923. Manuscript opinions of Chief Justice John Marshall and Justices Joseph Story, Smith Thompson, and John McLean, 1832. Engrossed opinions, 1835-1914. Memorandums of pending cases, 1796-1974. Transcripts of oral arguments, 1968-88, 1990-95. Correspondence of the Committee on Equity Practice, 1911-12. Correspondence of law clerks, 1927-38.

Microfilm Publications: M215, M216, T57.

Sound Recordings: Oral arguments in cases before the court, 1955-97 (5,680 items). See also 267.8.

Specific Restrictions: As specified by the Supreme Court of the United States: (A) A copy of any audiotape shall be furnished to any Justice of the Supreme Court at any time upon request. (B) A copy of any audiotape may be furnished to any other person only after the National Archives has obtained a written statement from the requester detailing the purpose(s) for which the requester wishes to use the audiotape, and requester has signed a release form. If the Archives is of the view that the statement of purpose(s) reveals or may be understood to reveal a commercial purpose, the copy of the audiotape shall not be furnished the requester without the Archives first obtaining the approval of the Marshal of the Court. (C) The Archives may not identify the voices of members of the Supreme Court in connection with any use of any audiotape. (D) The Archives may not reproduce and furnish any audiotapes, or broadcast any audiotape by means of radio, television, or other similar medium, for any commercial purposes without first obtaining approval of the Marshal of the Court.

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267.3.2 Appellate jurisdiction records

History: The appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court is defined in various statutes. Since the circuit courts of appeal give final decisions in the majority of cases, the Supreme Court usually hears only those cases that involve the construction or the constitutionality of legislative enactments or other issues of general importance.

Textual Records: Case files, 1792-1993, with index, 1792-1909. Manuscript and revised printed opinions, 1808-1913. Mandates to lower courts, 1830-1905. Certiorari cards, 1935-52.

Microfilm Publications: M214, M408.

Maps: Exhibits filed in zoning case, Baltimore, MD, 1929 (3 items). See also 267.6.

Architectural and Engineering Plans: Exhibits filed in zoning case, Baltimore, MD, 1929 (11 items). See also 267.6.

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267.3.3 Original jurisdiction records

History: The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving ambassadors, ministers, and consuls, and those in which a state is a party.

Textual Records: Case files, 1792-1993. Manuscript and revised printed opinions, 1835-1909.

Maps: Exhibits in original jurisdiction cases, 1851-1980 (6,699 items). See also 267.6.

Architectural and Engineering Plans: Exhibits in original jurisdiction cases, 1851-1980 (889 items). See also 267.6.

Motion Pictures: Exhibits in original jurisdiction cases, 1939-66 (5 reels).

Sound Recordings: Informal hearings in original jurisdiction case Arizona v. California, March 24, 1979 (2 items). See also 267.8.

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267.3.4 Records relating to ex parte and miscellaneous cases

Textual Records: Papers in habeas corpus cases heard in chambers, 1861, 1869, 1881, and 1882. Ex parte and miscellaneous case files, 1925-53. Applications for action by the court, 1929-91.

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267.4 Records of the Office of the Clerk

History: Clerk appointed under authority of the Judiciary Act of 1789 to record the decrees, judgments, and determinations of the court.

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267.4.1 General records

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1791-1941. Letters to and from justices, 1791-1940. Correspondence relating to the appointment of stenographic clerks, 1888-1940; the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, 1939-42; and the appointment of advisory committees on rules of criminal and civil procedure, 1941-42. Correspondence with the General Accounting Office, 1949- 56. Subject file, 1800-1910. Oaths of office of justices, 1823- 1910; and Supreme Court officers, 1827-1907. Orders concerning Supreme Court rules, 1792-1959. Allotment orders of circuits to justices, 1796-1946. Records relating to printing and binding, 1865-1954. Scrapbooks, 1880-1935. Indexes to names of attorneys admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court, 1790-1955. Attorney rolls, 1790-1961.

Microfilm Publications: M217.

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267.4.2 Fiscal records

Textual Records: Fee books, 1818-1934. Fee bonds, 1832-89. Bills and accounts of costs against the United States, 1803-86; and private parties, 1830-1900. Receipts for disbursements, 1827-90. Printers' bills, 1831-1957. Records of deposits for printing, 1888-96. Record of daily receipts and expenditures ("Day Book"), 1898-1926. Correspondence relating to the Clerk's accounts, 1856- 1938.

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267.5 Records of the Office of the Marshal

History: Until 1867, the marshal of the district in which the Supreme Court sat acted as the Marshal of the Supreme Court and had the duty of executing its precepts. By an act of March 2, 1867 (14 Stat. 433), the Supreme Court was given the power to appoint its own marshal to take charge of government property used by the court, and to execute the process and orders of the court.

Textual Records: Subject files, 1864-1913. Applications and endorsements for positions, 1867-1909. Accounting records, 1867- 1936. Correspondence relating to books, 1887-1910. Library accounting records, 1896-1910. General correspondence, 1867-1940.

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267.6 Cartographic Records (General)

See Maps under 267.3.2 and 267.3.3.
See Architectural and Engineering Plans under 267.3.2 and 267.3.3.

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267.7 Motion Pictures (General)

See under 267.3.3.

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267.8 Sound Recordings (General)

See under 267.3.1 and 267.3.3.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

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