Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Louis Nizer Papers, 1940-1994

Summary Information


Manuscripts and correspondence of attorney Louis Nizer.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1649
Bib ID 10203548 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Nizer, Louis, 1902-1994
Title Louis Nizer Papers, 1940-1994
Physical Description 13.09 linear feet (17 document boxes and 6 record cartons)
Language(s) English .

This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.



This collection is arranged in 8 series.



Collection contains material related primarily to Nizer's literary activities, including research material and manuscripts for his books, article drafts, and drafts of speeches and addresses. There are also scrapbooks and press clippings related to Nizer which document his public life.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Louis Nizer Papers; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Ownership and Custodial History

Material was bequested to the Columbia University Libraries in 1995. Collection was accessioned by the law library and incorporated into their special collections. In 2013 transferred to the RBML.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed ceh 05/--/2013.

Revision Description

2013-06-12 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eulogies (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Actions and defenses Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Nizer, Louis, 1902-1994 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rosenberg, Ethel, 1915-1953 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rosenberg, Julius, 1918-1953 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scrapbooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Louis Nizer was a trial lawyer and author of books including My Life in Court, Catspaw, and Implosion Conspiracy.

Nizer was born in 1902 in London, though his parents moved to Brooklyn, New York when Nizer was a young child and he spent most of his youth in the United States. Nizer attended Columbia College and earned his BA from the institution in 1922 before continuing on to earn his law degree from the Columbia University Law School in 1924.

Nizer, along with fellow attorney Louis Phillips, established a law practice in 1926, the foundations of the firm that would become Phillips, Nizer, Benjamin, Krim, and Ballon.

Much of Nizer's legal career focused on entertainment law, and in particular the film industry. In addition to representing individuals and companies involved in the film industry, he served as the lawyer for the New York Film Board of Trade. He, along with Jack Valenti, was instrumental in creating the motion picture ratings system still in use by the Motion Picture Association of America.

In addition to his trial work, Nizer was a writer who wrote popular books related to the law. His best known work is his 1962 memoir, My Life in Court which documented his experiences in the courtroom; other of his books, such as Catspaw, also documented cases that he worked on over the course of his career. He also penned a book about the Rosenberg case, Implosion Conspiracy, which resulted in its own legal action when Nizer was sued by the Rosenberg family. In addition to his books, Nizer also wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune.

Nizer died in 1994 of kidney failure at the age of 92.