crown CU Home > Libraries Home
Columbia University Libraries Archival CollectionsRare Book & Manuscript Library Collections

   Wilfred Feinberg Papers 1936-2011 [Bulk Dates: 1960-2011].

Download and Print CitationContact Bookmark Share

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Wilfred Feinberg Papers, 1936-2011; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


The Wilfred Feinberg papers consist of over 200 linear feet of material, primarily dating from his fifty years as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Some highlights of the collection include rulings and case files from precedent-setting cases, Feinberg's committee work drafting the 1995 Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts, and a detailed oral history.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1585
Bib ID:8928418 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Feinberg, Wilfred.
Title:Wilfred Feinberg Papers 1936-2011 [Bulk Dates: 1960-2011].
Physical description:222.71 linear ft. (220 record cartons, 1 half-width document case, 2 small artifact boxes, and 1 flat box)
Language(s): Materials are in English.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



This collection is arranged in nine series

Return to top


Scope and Content

The Wilfred Feinberg papers consist of over 200 linear feet of material, primarily dating from his fifty years as a judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Some highlights of the collection include rulings and case files from precedent-setting cases, Feinberg's committee work drafting the 1995 Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts, and a detailed oral history.

Series I: Private Practice, 1948-1963

Prior to Feinberg's appointment as a federal judge in 1961, he was an attorney in private practice in New York. This series includes his official bar admissions; case files, office memoranda, and pleadings from both firms where he worked; and the substantive files of pleadings and research related to the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company bankruptcy and reorganization. Within each file, materials are arranged by date.

Series II: United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1961-1966

This series consists of records from Feinberg's service as a district judge, before being elevated to the Second Circuit in 1966. Materials relating to his recess nomination in 1961 and official confirmation in 1962, including correspondence and photographs, are represented. One of his most notable contributions as a district judge was on the electrical equipment antitrust cases, which make up a sizable portion of the series. Also included are the court's sitting schedules and trial calendars, Feinberg's chamber case files, draft and pattern jury charges, motions heard, and rulings. This series is divided into seven subseries.

Subseries II.1: Calendars Reassigned After Court of Appeals Appointment, 1966

In preparation for his departure from the district court, Feinberg wrote notes and case conference summaries for the district judges scheduled to replace him on ongoing cases. This subseries also includes copies of scheduling calendars, and is arranged by date.

Subseries II.2: Case Files, 1961-1966

Feinberg kept his district case files separated into civil and criminal arrangements, and his original order has been maintained. Each case consists of a folder (or folders) and includes some combination of pre-trial and research notes, amicus curiae from interested agencies and parties, clippings related to the case, correspondence from the parties and the public, inter-judge memoranda, legal precedent research, opinions (both draft and published), other court pleadings, and pre-trial and trial transcripts. Two of Feinberg's noteworthy cases include Davis v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company 249 F.Supp. 329 (SDNY 1966) and Zippo Manufacturing Co. v. Rogers Imports, Inc. 216 F.Supp. 670 (SDNY 1963). Zippo Manufacturing dealt with a question of copyright infringement, but its enduring relevance has to do with Feinberg's decision that consumer surveys are admissible as evidence. Davis v DuPont is another copyright infringement case regarding a 1960 telecast of Ethan Frome .

The bound docket books are chronological, and include an alphabetical index and a brief summary of each case and its final dispensation. Case files, divided into civil and criminal, are arranged alphabetically by plaintiff name.

Subseries II.3: Electrical Cases, 1962-1966

The electrical equipment antitrust cases of the 1960s prompted major developments in judicial policy for complex multidistrict litigation. Grand jury indictments against electrical equipment manufacturers led to criminal convictions for price-fixing in 1961, which prompted more than 2000 private antitrust suits in 35 districts. In response, the Judicial Conference created the nine-member Co-Ordinating Committee for Multiple Litigation, and Feinberg assisted fellow SDNY District Judge Sylvester Ryan with the committee. It was a multiyear administrative undertaking, and this subseries includes substantial correspondence, research material and committee discussions and memoranda, as well as a record of the sizable pleadings and complex scheduling overseen by the Co-Ordinating Committee.

Subseries II.4: Judicial Appointment, 1961-1962

This subseries relates to Feinberg's October 1961 recess appointment by President Kennedy and his formal nomination and Senate confirmation the following spring. Materials include clippings, letters of congratulations, photographs, and programs. Each file is arranged chronologically.

Subseries II.5: Jury Charges, 1961-1966

Jury charges are the instructions a judge delivers to a jury prior to deliberation regarding the questions of fact at issue. This subseries is divided into civil and criminal jury charges and includes both official New York Pattern Jury Instructions and Feinberg's drafts of case-specific jury instructions. Materials are arranged alphabetically by charge.

Subseries II.6: Motions, 1961-1965

Motions ruled on by Feinberg are divided by type and filed chronologically by court term. This subseries also includes court calendars and hearing schedules.

Subseries II.7: Opinions, 1961-1966

This subseries includes final versions of all filed legal memoranda and opinions written by Feinberg. The subseries begins with an alphabetical index by case citation. The opinions and memoranda are filed chronologically by court term.

Series III: United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1955-2011

This series is the largest in the collection, comprising more than half of the Feinberg material. Feinberg served on the Second Circuit from 1966 through 2011, one of the longest tenures in circuit history, including a term as Chief Judge from 1980 through 1988. He took senior status (a form of semi-retirement) in 1991 and maintained an active hearing schedule until his retirement in 2011. The heart of this series is his case files, which include a number of precedent-setting and noteworthy rulings. A list of cases of particular interest can be found in the note to Subseries III.2.

This series is divided into nine subseries.

Subseries III.1: Administrative Materials, 1961-2011

This subseries consists of records relating to the administrative functioning of the Second Circuit. Much of the material dates from Feinberg's tenure as Chief Judge (1980-1988), a position with significant administrative responsibility and chairmanship of the Circuit Judicial Council. Administrative reports and memoranda were written and received throughout Feinberg's tenure on the court, however.

The subseries is divided alphabetically by subject and includes 17 files. Official reports from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (the administrative agency for the federal judiciary as a whole) and the Circuit Court Executive (the administrator responsible for the Second Circuit) make up the bulk of this subseries. Materials in this subseries include administrative notices, budget reports, calendars, clippings, inter-judge memoranda on a wide variety of subjects, meeting minutes, records of disciplinary proceedings and disqualifications, statistics, and visiting judge appointments.

Also present are programs and correspondence related to official court ceremonies, including memorials, inductions, and retirements. Judges' salaries were an ongoing concern throughout the judiciary, with judges occasionally returning to private practice in order to secure greater compensation, and the correspondence and clippings related to this issue is valuable. Vacancies on the district level are a frequent concern, and senior judges were particularly valuable for their availability to sit as visiting judges on the Circuit's district courts, as well as other circuits.

Within each subject, materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries III.2: Case Files, 1966-2011

This subseries makes up the bulk of the collection, consisting of more than seventy-five record cartons. Feinberg's chambers case files vary in size and detail, but include some combination of the following: annotations, copies of the decision or offprints from the Federal Reporter , drafts of opinions and rulings, motions filed in the case, inter-judge and inter-court case-related memoranda, newsclippings, notes, relevant district court rulings, and research material.

Regular Argument Calendar files are foldered alphabetically by appellant last name. There are three boxes of Non-Argument Calendar files (a separate calendar exclusively for petitions for review of a denial of asylum), arranged chronologically by review panel week, maintaining Feinberg's original order. Docket sheets include an alphabetical index, a brief summary of each of Feinberg's cases, and their final dispensation. From 1965 through 1984 the docket sheets were bound volumes, subsequently they are foldered chronologically.

Some noteworthy cases, as highlighted by Feinberg in his oral history in Subseries IX.4 are listed below, with a very brief summary. The final two parts of the oral history discuss these cases, and a few dozen more, in much greater detail. More extensive lists of noteworthy rulings can be found in Subseries IX.1. Unless otherwise noted, Feinberg wrote the majority opinion:

-- United States v. Miller 367 F.2d 72 (2d. Cir. 1966), which held that the prosecution of a protestor who burned his draft card to show his opposition to the Vietnam War was indeed constitutional.

-- Torrington Co. v. Metal Products Workers Union Local 1645 362 F.2d 677 (2d Cir. 1966), a labor arbitration case where the district decision against the union was upheld 2-1. Feinberg's first dissent.

-- J.P. Stevens & Co. v. National Labor Relations Board 380 F.2d 292 (2d Cir. 1967), the first of a series of cases against J.P. Stevens for violating national labor law. The case inspired the 1979 movie Norma Rae .

-- Kelly v. Wyman 294 F.Supp. 893 (SDNY 1968), Feinberg was the Circuit Judge on this three-judge court and ruled that welfare recipients were entitled to a hearing before any of their benefits could be terminated. Feinberg's opinion was upheld by the Supreme Court in Goldberg v. Kelly 397 U.S. 254 (1970) and the decision is considered a landmark in the welfare rights movement.

-- Goetz v. Ansell 477 F.2d 636 (2d. Cir. 1973), upholding a high school student's right to refuse to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance.

-- In the Matter of Andros Compania Maritima 579 F.2d 691 (2d Cir. 1978), a frequently-cited arbitration case that limits when courts can interfere with arbitrators.

Subseries III.3: En Banc Files, 1966-2011

En banc cases require a majority vote of the judges in favor of hearing an appeal before the full court, instead of the traditional three judge panel. Although en banc power was granted to the appellate courts in 1948, each circuit court has its own traditions and rules governing en banc procedures. The Second Circuit has been one of the most hesitant to hear a case en banc, so this subseries is substantially smaller than the Subseries III.2, and it has been arranged and described separately to preserve Feinberg's original order. Noteworthy case files include:

-- Sostre v. McGinnis 442 F.2d 178 (2d Cir. 1971), an en banc hearing to determine the extent (and any violation) of federal constitutional rights of state prisoners. Feinberg wrote a partial dissent in which he argued that there must be a definite limit to solitary confinement, and that Sostre's extended "punitive segregation" violated the Eighth Amendment.

-- New York Times Company v. United States 44 F.2d 544 (2d Cir. 1971), the Pentagon Papers case. The ruling itself was not especially noteworthy: with Feinberg and two other judges dissenting, the Second Circuit en banc affirmed the Nixon Administration's restraining order against the continued publication of the Papers. After an emergency appeal by the Times to the Supreme Court, the Second Circuit's ruling was reversed four days later.

In addition to cases that were approved and heard en banc, this subseries includes discussions of en banc protocol and judges' poll responses to petitions for review and hearing en banc.

Subseries III.4: Judges' Meetings, 1955-2011

This subseries includes agendas, correspondence, minutes, and programs from a number of formal and informal groups of the judges of the Second Circuit.

Open to all judges, the Circuit Court Agenda Luncheons were an informal judicial journal club, the quarterly Court Meetings served a more official administrative purpose, and the annual court retreats combined administrative business and social time for the judges. The Judicial Conference of the Second Judicial Circuit is the largest of the circuit meetings, a formal annual meeting that includes all of the appellate judges of the Second Circuit, as well as administrators and the district, bankruptcy, and magistrate judges within the Second Circuit. The Judicial Council of the Second Circuit is the official governing body of the circuit, comprised of the Chief Judge, a panel of appellate judges, and a representative from each of the district courts.

Within the subseries, each file's folders are arranged reverse-chronologically to maintain Feinberg's original order.

Subseries III.5: Motions, 1993-2011

Motions ruled on by Feinberg are divided by type and filed reverse-chronologically by calendar week. Materials do not always include the motion itself, but each motion folder includes any recommendations submitted by the Staff Attorneys' Office, inter-judge memoranda, and copies of filed orders.

Subseries III.6: Opinions, 1965-2009

Although this subseries deals with Feinberg's opinions, it includes very few reprints or drafts of his published opinions. Materials include administrative files regarding opinion composition, limited memoranda regarding opinion protocol, statistics of both Feinberg's opinions and the rulings of the Court as a whole, and drafts of his unpublished opinions. Also included in this subseries are lists of Feinberg's significant opinions, as suggested by his law clerks. Further lists of noteworthy rulings can be found in Subseries IX.1, and discussions of them can be found in his oral history in Subseries IX.4.

Materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries III.7: Pro Se, 1966-2008

This subseries includes materials relating to those litigants who represented (or wished to represent) themselves without an attorney. Pro Se hearings were held on a separate calendar and administered by the Pro Se Clerk. Records include correspondence, memoranda, reports, scheduling, and statistics from the Clerk's office, as well as pro se applications and litigant correspondence misdirected to Judge Feinberg's chambers instead of the Clerk of Court.

Materials are filed reverse-chronologically except for Litigant Correspondence, which is filed alphabetically by correspondent name.

Subseries III.8: Second Circuit Appointment, 1965-1966

This subseries includes official correspondence related to Judge Feinberg's nomination to the Court of Appeals, congratulations from Feinberg's friends and colleagues, and induction programs from the ceremony. Materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries III.9: Sitting Schedules and Calendars, 1966-2011

The bulk of materials relating to the court calendar and scheduling is in this subseries and includes calendars, memoranda, minutes, procedural and protocol information, reports and statistics. Calendars include information for weeks where Feinberg was not sitting. Each file is arranged reverse-chronologically.

Series IV: Subject Files, 1961-2010

This series consists of topical material related to the functioning of the court, the court's official rules, and Feinberg's research files. It includes materials from both his district court service and his time on the appellate bench. This series includes four subseries: General; Advisory Committee Service; Points of Law; and Rules of Practice and Procedure.

Subseries IV.1: General, 1962-2010

This subseries includes subject files related to the court's functioning. The bulk of the materials are memoranda between the judges and the Clerk and Circuit Executive, as well as reports and statistics. There are thirteen topical files in this subseries, and material within each file is arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries IV.2: Advisory Committee Service, 1968-2001

This subseries includes Feinberg's official committee service, excepting his work on the Judicial Conference's Long Range Planning Committee, which can be found in Subseries V.3. Committee reports from informal committees, Second Circuit standing committees, and committees where Feinberg was not a member can be found in Subseries IV.1.

The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and Federal Courts Study Committee were under the aegis of the Judicial Conference. The Advisory Committee on Experimentation in the Law, Advisory Council for Appellate Justice, and Committee on Future Needs and Practices were sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center. Materials in this subseries include clippings, correspondence and memoranda, drafts, meeting minutes, programs, reports, and statistics. Within each file, materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries IV.3: Points of Law, 1961-2010

Feinberg maintained a subject file for points of law, arranged alphabetically by topic, where he filed offprints of case rulings responsive to the topic. The bulk of the offprints come from Second Circuit decisions, but other courts are represented. Many of the labeled folders are empty but have been retained to maintain Feinberg's research system. In addition to offprints, folders occasionally include carbons of Feinberg's opinions and notes.

Subseries IV.4: Rules of Practice and Procedure, 1961-2010

This subseries includes copies of rules and amendments that govern the functioning of the court system as a whole, the Second Circuit specifically, and the Circuit's bankruptcy and district courts. The subseries is divided into nine files, one for each set of rules (five federal, three circuit, and one local by district) and within each file folders are arranged numerically by rule number.

Series V: Judicial Conference of the United States, 1974-2007

The Judicial Conference of the United States is charged by Congress to "serve as the principal policy-making body concerned with the administration of the U.S. Courts." Although the court system is largely decentralized, with each circuit and district having unique customs, practices, and rules, the Judicial Conference is the formal center for procedural recommendations. The Chief Justice of the United States presides over the Conference; other members include the Chief Judges of each circuit and a representative from each district and trade court. Feinberg was Chief Judge of the Second Circuit, and therefore a member of the Judicial Conference, from 1980 through 1988.

Traditionally, each new Chief Justice begins his tenure with a study of the Judicial Conference and the court system. Upon William Rehnquist's confirmation as Chief Justice, he created the Committee to Study the Judicial Conference, which lasted for a year. Prompted by the reports of the Rehnquist Committee and the Federal Courts Study Committee, Rehnquist created the Long Range Planning Committee as the anticipated first phase in a permanent planning effort. Having served eight years as a member of the Judicial Conference, Feinberg was appointed to the Long Range Planning Committee.

This series includes comprehensive agendas (including lengthy appendices of supplementary reports), correspondence, drafts, minutes, reports, and research. It is divided into three subseries derived from Feinberg's original filing system: Committee to Study the Judicial Conference; Judicial Conference; and Long Range Planning Committee.

Subseries V.1: Committee to Study the Judicial Conference, 1986-1987

The Committee to Study the Judicial Conference was created shortly after William Rehnquist was confirmed as Chief Justice. Materials in this subseries include correspondence, drafts, meeting agendas, meeting programs, and reports. This subseries is arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries V.2: Judicial Conference, 1974-2007

The Judicial Conference is made up of the Chief Justice, the Chief Judges of each circuit, and representatives from the district and trade courts. The Conference meets twice a year to discuss procedure and policy within the court system, and following the full conference the Chief Judges of the circuits have a separate meeting. Feinberg served as Chief Judge from 1980 through 1988 and therefore was a member of the Conference for that period. He also received courtesy copies of reports and correspondence both before and after his tenure as Chief Judge.

This subseries includes correspondence, meeting agendas (each with sizable appendices containing reports from court committees and administrative offices), meeting minutes, reports, and research materials. Within each file, materials are arranged reverse-chronologically

Subseries V.3: Long Range Planning Committee, 1989-2007

The Long Range Planning Committee was created by the Judicial Conference in response to the recommendations of the Federal Courts Study Committee. In addition to Judge Feinberg, the committee consisted of three other appellate judges, three district judges, a bankruptcy judge, and a magistrate. Created in 1990 the committee published its formally approved plan in December 1995 after a multi-phase process of meetings, research, reports, and requests for comment. There now exists within the Administrative Office of the United States Courts a permanent Long-Range Planning Office that accounts for subseries correspondence between 1996 and 2007.

This subseries includes correspondence (both between committee members and among the wider judicial system and affiliated groups and professions), meeting agendas, research materials, subcommittee reports, and the proposed Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts that was submitted for public comment and Judicial Conference approval. The approved Long Range Plan for the Federal Courts is not included, but a PDF is available here on the United States Court website.

Within each file, materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Series VI: Professional Development, 1961-2011

This series includes materials relating to Feinberg's participation in professional organizations and continuing education. Records consist of conference materials, correspondence, directories, educational materials, official membership documents, reports, and workshop materials. This series is divided into three subseries: Bar Associations, Federal Judicial Center, and Legal Societies and Professional Organizations.

Subseries VI.1: Bar Associations, 1961-2010

Feinberg was a member of the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association, and all three groups are represented in this subseries. Maintaining his original order, the subseries is divided by document type, and each section includes items from all of the bar organizations. Records in this subseries include admissions and membership records (although his first admissions are in Series I), correspondence, programs, reports, and workshop and educational materials.

Within each file, records are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries VI.2: Federal Judicial Center, 1976-2008

The Federal Judicial Center, formed in 1967, is the official educational organization for the federal courts. While materials from Feinberg's service on Federal Judicial Center committees is in Subseries IV.2, this subseries includes educational and research material from FJC conferences and workshops. Records consist of agendas, correspondence, manuals, programs, research publication, and reports. Records are divided into three files by document type, maintaining Feinberg's original order, and arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries VI.3: Legal Societies and Professional Organizations, 1961-2011

This subseries collects records from a number of lesser professional groups and organizations. It consists of various biographical directories and judicial almanacs that included entries on Feinberg, along with twelve non-profit and continuing education groups that Feinberg occasionally participated in. Materials are primarily correspondence (including form renewals and questionnaires) and meeting and conference programs. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by organization name, then reverse-chronologically.

Series VII: Articles and Speeches, 1961-2011

This series includes Feinberg's articles and speeches, as well as correspondence and research material relating to them. In addition to correspondence, offprints, reprints, and typescripts, materials include clippings, drafts, and notes. The files of research material collect ideas for potential future topics.

Feinberg was a prolific writer, particularly in the 1980s, and some of the topics he wrote on frequently include diversity jurisdiction, senior judges, and the history of the Second Circuit. He was also a vigorous opponent of the National Court of Appeals, a proposed restructuring of the federal judiciary that caused substantial controversy in the 1970s. Feinberg's full publications list can be found in his CV in Subseries IX.1.

Feinberg maintained a "Jokes and Parodies" folder where he would file countless lawyer jokes clipped from Reader's Digest or sent to him by colleagues. Also in the "Jokes and Parodies" file are the song parodies that Feinberg wrote for anniversaries, birthdays, and retirements.

Although some of Feinberg's speeches were subsequently published in law journals and magazines, this series is particularly useful for its full record of fifty years of speech transcripts. Maintaining Feinberg's original order, the transcripts of both eulogies and speeches are arranged reverse-chronologically and include yearly indexes to speeches with locations and occasions. Many of the typescripts were Feinberg's podium copy and include his notes on delivery.

Series VIII: Columbia University Alumni Activity, 1959-2010

Feinberg spent his postsecondary education at Columbia University, attending Columbia College and Columbia Law School. He is an active alumnus and this series includes more than fifty years of his involvement with Columbia University. Feinberg kept separate records of his alumni activity for the college and the law school, and that arrangement has been maintained. A third subseries consists of records relating to Columbia University more generally, including the umbrella alumni group for all Columbia schools, and material related to President Lee Bollinger and long-time law school professor Maurice Rosenberg.

Subseries VIII.1: Columbia College, 1959-2008

Columbia College is one of the two undergraduate schools at Columbia University. Feinberg graduated from Columbia College in 1940 and remained active in the alumni association, serving on the Board of Directors. Records in this subseries include clippings, correspondence, meeting agendas, memoranda, minutes, reports, reunion programs, and statistics. Materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries VIII.2: Columbia Law School, 1962-2010

Feinberg enrolled in Columbia Law School in 1940 and, after a three year break for his Army service, graduated in 1946. While at Columbia Law School he was the editor-in-chief of the Law Review and after graduating became active in the alumni association. Throughout his career, he made sure that one of his two law clerks was a Columbia Law School graduate. He served on the Columbia Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors and was a member of the nomination committee for the Medal for Excellence. Of particular note is the file on the Feinberg Prize and Scholarship, which includes material on the Wilfred Feinberg Prize (established 1998) and Wilfred Feinberg Scholarship in Law (established 2010), both created by some of Feinberg's former law clerks.

Records include agendas, clippings, correspondence, memoranda, programs, and reports. Within each file, materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries VIII.3: Columbia University, 1970-2008

This subseries includes Columbia-related material that is not specific to Columbia College or Columbia Law School. The subseries is divided into three sections: Alumni Federation; Correspondence with President Lee Bollinger; and Maurice Rosenberg. Within each section materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

The Alumni Federation (superseded by the Columbia Alumni Association in 2005) is the umbrella alumni group responsible for Columbia University as a whole and materials in this file include clippings, correspondence, and meeting programs.

Lee Bollinger, the 19th President of Columbia University, is a fellow Columbia Law School alumnus, and one of Feinberg's law clerks (1971-1972). Although Feinberg and Bollinger kept in touch throughout the years, Feinberg's dedicated correspondence file was created in 2002, after Bollinger's inauguration as President of Columbia University.

Maurice Rosenberg was a classmate of Feinberg's at Columbia Law School and then a professor there for almost forty years. He and Feinberg were close (Rosenberg wrote "Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg: A Twenty-Fifth Year Tribute" for the Columbia Law Review in 1986), although the bulk of their personal correspondence can be found in Subseries IX.3. The Rosenberg materials include letters of nomination and recommendation from Feinberg regarding Rosenberg's consideration for a variety of awards, correspondence and programs from Rosenberg's memorial service in 1995, and records relating to the Maurice Rosenberg Memorial Lecture established at Columbia in 1996.

Series IX: Personal, 1936-2011

This series includes a variety of unofficial and personal records. The bulk of the series is Feinberg's correspondence files, which he maintained separately from the correspondence filed elsewhere in the collection. Similarly, Feinberg maintained a general clippings file separate from the clippings filed by topic found elsewhere in the collection. Also in this series is biographical information maintained and updated by Feinberg's secretary, including publications lists. Personal material includes business records from Feinberg's charity and investment activities outside his job, an oral history of Feinberg conducted in the late 1990s, and photographs. The series is arranged in six subseries.

Subseries IX.1: Biographical Materials, 1936-2010

This subseries consists of biographical and autobiographical information collected by Feinberg. The subseries includes four sections. Bibliographies and CVs include autobiographical blurbs, biographical directory forms, publication lists, and resumes from throughout Feinberg's career. The section also includes Feinberg's high school diploma, Columbia transcripts, and government disclosure forms from his tenure as New York State Deputy Superintendent of Banks. The day planners date from the last few years of Feinberg's judicial service, but primarily detail outside appointments. There is a substantive file for honors, which include Feinberg's high school diploma along with professional recognitions like the Devitt Award, the Learned Hand Medal, and honorary doctorates from Columbia and Syracuse. The lists of noteworthy rulings, arranged by year and compiled by his law clerks, is of particular note. Within each file, materials are arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries IX.2: Business and Investment Activities, 1950-1992

This subseries includes Feinberg's records of his extracurricular business activities. Much of it is related to tax rules and suburban property investments from the 1950s, but the subseries also includes information on Feinberg's political activity as a Democratic booster in Westchester in the 1950s and 1960s. Also in this subseries are catalogs, correspondence, and programs from the Feinberg Graduate School, part of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and established by Feinberg's brother Abraham. Although the Feinberg Graduate School was Abraham Feinberg's project, Wilfred Feinberg did visit Israel for the dedication and received material from the school throughout the years.

Subseries IX.3: Correspondence, 1952-2011

This subseries makes up the bulk of Series IX. Although there is correspondence represented in almost every subseries in the collection, Subseries IX.3 collects a number of correspondence files that Feinberg maintained separately. The largest is Feinberg's file of Personal Correspondence, which includes correspondence from classmates, colleagues, family, friends, and law clerks. Although correspondence from fellow judges is interfiled in Personal Correspondence, Feinberg also created a file for Unofficial Correspondence with Judges that has been kept separate to maintain his original arrangement. Of particular note is the file for Judge Henry Friendly Biographies, which includes interview transcripts from two book projects on Feinberg's former colleague. Other files in Subseries IX.3 are Invitations; Law Clerks; Letters of Reference; and Mayor's Office. This subseries is arranged reverse-chronologically.

Subseries IX.4: Oral History, 1993-2005

In late 1996 and early 1997, the law professor and legal historian Jeffrey Morris met with Feinberg to complete a detailed oral history. The six meetings were divided roughly by topic, and dealt with Feinberg's biography, his former colleagues on the bench, his work in judicial administration, the history of the circuit, and important cases he decided. The subseries includes approved final copies of the interview transcripts as well as drafts and annotated and corrected transcript copies. There is also correspondence between Morris and Feinberg's chambers. The recordings of the interviews themselves are available on thirteen audiocassettes.

Subseries IX.5: Photographs, 1946-2009

This subseries includes most of the photographs in the collection, although a few photographs from Feinberg's judicial appointment in 1961 can be found in Subseries II.4. There is a small collection of correspondence related to the photographs, primarily letters of enclosure and court announcements of official portraits. The subseries also includes negatives and a CD with snapshots in .jpeg format (although the photos are also represented in the subseries as prints).

The photographs include official portraits of Feinberg and the court and informal snapshots of Feinberg and his wife and colleagues at a variety of events, including a number of photographs from Columbia reunions. Aside from the folder of related correspondence, the photographs are arranged by event (if known) and filed chronologically.

Subseries IX.6: Clippings and Public Relations, 1956-2004

Although files of clippings can be found throughout the collection, this subseries consists of the separate clippings file that Feinberg maintained. All clippings have been preservation photocopied and arranged chronologically. The subseries also includes Feinberg's lists of newspaper and press contacts for his personal use and public relations material produced by the Second Circuit, primarily press releases.

Return to top

Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

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

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Wilfred Feinberg Papers, 1936-2011; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Collection is processed to folder level. Finding aid available in repository and online.

Selected Related Material at Other Repositories

Henry Jacob Friendly Papers, Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.

Irving R. Kaufman Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Papers of the Honorable Judge James L. Oakes, Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, Vermont Law School.

Return to top

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed by Caitlin Goodman in 2012.

Finding aid written by Caitlin Goodman in 12/2012.

The processing of the Wilfred Feinberg Papers was made possible through the generous support of the Office of the President, Columbia University in the City of New York.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion December 13, 2012. Finding aid written in English. Finding aid adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard .
    2012-12-14 xml document instance created by Caitlin Goodman.

Return to top

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.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Oral history.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Altimari, Frank X. (Frank Xavier), 1928-1998.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Alumni Federation of Columbia University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Anderson, Robert Palmer--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Appellate courts.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Appellate procedure--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Burger, Warren E., 1907-1995PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cabranes, Jose A.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Calabresi, Guido, 1932-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cardamone, Richard J., 1925-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia Law School Alumni Association.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Columbia University.--School of Law.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Court administration.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Court calendars.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Court records.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Federal Judicial Center.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Feinberg, Wilfred, 1920-.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Frankel, Marvin E., 1920-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Friendly, Henry J.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Gurfein, Murray.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Hays, Paul R. (Paul Raymond), 1903-1980.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Jacobs, Dennis G., 1944-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Judicial Conference of the United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Judicial Conference of the United States.--Committee on Long Range Planning.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Katzmann, Robert A.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kaufman, Irving Robert, 1910-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kearse, AmalyaPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Leval, Pierre N. (Pierre Nelson), 1936-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Lumbard, J. Edward (Joseph Edward), 1901-1999.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mahoney, John Daniel.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mansfield, Walter Roe, 1911-1987.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McLaughlin, Joseph M.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Medina, Harold R. (Harold Raymond), 1888-1900.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Meskill, Thomas J., 1928-2007.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Miner, Roger J.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Moore, Leonard P.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Mulligan, William Hughes, 1918-1996.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Newman, Jon O. (Jon Ormond)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Oakes, James L. (James Lowell), 1924-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Parker, Barrington D. (Barrington Daniels), 1944-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Parker, Fred I. (Fred Irving), 1938-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pierce, Lawrence W. (Lawrence Warren), 1924-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pooler, Rosemary S. (Rosemary Shankman), 1938-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pratt, George C. (George Cheny), 1928-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Raggi, Reena, 1951-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rehnquist, William H., 1924-2005.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rosenberg, Maurice, 1919-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sack, Robert D.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Smith, John Joseph.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Sotomayor, Sonia, 1954-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Straub, Chester John, 1937-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Timbers, William Homer.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States.--Court of Appeals (2nd Circuit)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States.--District Court (New York : Southern District)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States.--Supreme Court.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Van Graafeiland, Ellsworth.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Walker, John M., 1940-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Warren, Earl, 1891-1974.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Waterman, Sterry.--localPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Winter, Ralph K., 1935-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Return to top

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Wilfred Feinberg was born on June 22, 1920 in New York City. His family soon moved to Mount Vernon, NY, where he has remained for much of his life. After graduating from high school, Feinberg attended Columbia College (class of 1940) and enrolled in Columbia Law School before enlisting in the Army during World War II.

During his three years of service in the Signal Corps, Feinberg wrote for Yank magazine and a Signal Corps newsletter, and later wrote a (never published) novel based on his wartime experiences. He reenrolled at Columbia Law School after his Army service and served as editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review . Upon graduation in 1946, Feinberg married Shirley Marcus and moved to Philadelphia to clerk for District Judge James P. McGranery, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

In 1949, after his clerkship, Feinberg returned with his family to New York and joined the firm Kaye Scholer as an associate. After four years, he was offered a junior partner position at McGoldrick, Dannett, Horowitz and Golub, a smaller firm with Columbia Law School connections. Feinberg and his wife became involved in Westchester Democratic politics, leading to his 1958 appointment by Governor W. Averell Harriman as Deputy Superintendent of Banks. As Deputy Superintendent, Feinberg was responsible for regulating union welfare and retail installment credit. After Harriman was defeated by Nelson Rockefeller, Feinberg returned to private practice at McGoldrick, where he remained until his appointment as District Judge in 1961.

In October 1961, Feinberg received a recess appointment from President Kennedy to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He was officially confirmed in March 1962. One of Feinberg's first experiences on the bench was with the electrical equipment antitrust cases, which were thousands of private suits that were filed after a 1961 grand jury indictment in Philadelphia against equipment manufacturers for price-fixing. The Co-Ordinating Committee for Multiple Litigation, formed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, was formed to unify the pre-trial process and SDNY Chief Judge Sylvester Ryan was appointed to the committee. Ryan, in turn, asked Feinberg to attend the meetings as his proxy, and Feinberg became deeply involved in the procedural aspects of multidistrict litigation.

His work on judicial procedural improvements continued when Chief Justice Warren appointed him to the Advisory Committee on Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 1965. It was Feinberg's first official involvement in judicial administration, and throughout his career he remained active in issues of judicial administration and procedure, most notably on the Advisory Council for Appellate Justice (1970-1975) and the Long Range Planning Committee (1991-1995), both under the aegis of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

In 1966, President Johnson nominated Feinberg to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and he became one of the youngest judges on the Court of Appeals. As junior judge, Feinberg was responsible for many of the administrative tasks that would become the job of the Circuit Executive upon the position's creation in 1971. He remained interested in court administration, and wrote numerous articles and speeches on the subject.

Feinberg was Chief Judge of the Second Circuit from 1980 through 1988. He assumed senior status in 1991 but remained active on the bench and on a number of judicial committees until his retirement in 2011. In his career on the bench, Feinberg wrote over 1000 opinions. Citations for some of the historically and legally important cases can be found in the notes to Subseries II.2 and Subseries III.2, along with very brief summaries.

Feinberg was an active presence in the Alumni Associations of both Columbia College and Columbia Law School, and includes among his former clerks countless Columbia Law School alumni, including Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Judge Feinberg retired from the bench in 2011 after fifty years of service. He lives with Shirley in Mount Vernon, New York.


Federal Judicial Center, History of the Federal Judiciary. "Wilfred Feinberg." Biographical Directory of Federal Judges.

Interviews of Wilfred Feinberg by Jeffrey Morris, 1996-1997.

Rosenberg, Maurice. "Chief Judge Wilfred Feinberg: A Twenty-Fifth Year Tribute. Columbia Law Review 86 (1986): 1505-1514.

Return to top