Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Louis Henkin papers, 1940-2007, bulk 1980-2005

Summary Information

Abstract

Louis Henkin (1917-2010) was a prominent figure in international human rights law and taught at Columbia Law School for over sixty years. Henkin published more than twenty books on constitutionalism, foreign policy, human rights, and international law, and served as an expert member of the United Nations' Human Rights Committee. The collection consists of 22 linear feet of Henkin's professional record, primarily from the last twenty-five years of his career, and focuses on his teaching activity, writings, and work for the United Nations.

At a Glance

Call No.: HR#0012
Bib ID 8961281 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Henkin, Louis
Title Louis Henkin papers, 1940-2007, bulk 1980-2005
Physical Description 22 linear feet (22 linear feet 18 record cartons)
Language(s) Chiefly in English, with significant materials in French. Also includes some items in Bulgarian, Croation, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Portugese, and Spanish.
Access

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 has restrictions. Subseries II.1 and Subseries II.2 include folders containing student grades and transcripts which are restricted for 80 years from date of record. Restricted folders are noted in the series note and container list.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in seven series. Series I: Biographical Materials, 1940-2007; Series II: Columbia University, 1958-2007; Series III: Correspondence, 1942-2007; Series IV: Professional Activity, 1957-2007; Series V: Subject Files, 1950-2007; Series VI: United Nations, 1981-2005; Series VII: Writings, 1956-2005.

Description

Summary

The papers of Louis Henkin consist of 22 linear feet, documenting his professional and academic career as a Columbia Law School professor and father of human rights law. The bulk of the collection dates from his later years, and includes substantial teaching materials and records of his participation in professional organizations. There is also documentation of his time as Chief Reporter for the American Law Institute's Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law and his tenure as an appointed expert on the United Nations' Human Rights Committee. The collection also includes Henkin's subject files, three boxes of correspondence, and drafts and offprints of many of his articles and speeches. There is a small selection of personal papers, including day planners and two interviews of Henkin which provide insight into his philosophical outlook and his perspective on his career.

Collection materials include administrative files, agendas, articles, awards, bound volumes and journals, case reports, clippings, conference materials, correspondence, course materials, day planners, drafts, interviews, photographs, speeches, student records, and syllabi.

  • Series I: Biographical Materials

    This series is arranged chronologically unless otherwise noted. Clippings include issues of the Columbia Law School Observer as well as newspaper articles and editorials. CVs and directory bios also include biographical notes for contributor lists and programs. The day planners date from 1966 through 2004 but are not comprehensive. Honors and Awards include certificates, correspondence, diplomas, programs, and speeches. Interviews include an edited transcript of a 1995 conversation with Antonio Cassese and a partial transcript of a 1996 interview with Don Anton. The small file of personal materials includes some business correspondence, a formal appraisal for a collection of Felix Frankfurter's letters that Henkin donated to Harvard Law School, Henkin's "Humor" file (including a 1940 parody issue of Harvard Law Review, which he edited), and correspondence relating to awards and festschrifts. The file is arranged alphabetically by topic. Photographs include two sets of professional portraits and three undated snapshots.

  • Series II: Columbia University

    This series covers Henkin's 40+ years as part of the Columbia Law School Faculty. The bulk of the series are course materials from Henkin's teaching activities. Records from Henkin's five years as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School are included, to maintain consistency with Henkin's original arrangement. Records containing FERPA-protected student information arerestricted. The series is divided into three subseries.

  • Series III: Correspondence

    Henkin filed his correspondence by topic, organization, or correspondent name. That arrangement has been preserved, and within each folder, letters are arranged chronologically. Some of the larger topical files include Faculty, Human Rights, and Recommendations. Although transcripts of Henkin's 1942 correspondence with Learned Hand are included, the rest of the material dates from 1966-2007, with the majority dating from the 1990s and 2000s.

    Some correspondence was left by Henkin in folders labeled "to be filed" or "miscellaneous" and these letters have not been integrated into the alphabetical series. They have been arranged roughly chronologically. The bulk of this correspondence dates from 1996-2001.

  • Series IV: Professional Activity

    Henkin was involved with a number of non-profits and professional organizations related to his research interests. He founded Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in 1978 (now Human Rights First) and was active in the Aspen Institute, particularly the Justice and Society program directed by his wife. He was also an elected member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Major organizational activity is filed, alphabetically, under Organizations. Briefer activities, including his work with the Council of Europe and the Advisory Committee on International Law, are filed under Other Memberships. Materials include agendas, announcements, clippings, conference programs, correspondence, meeting minutes, reading lists and excerpts, and reports.

  • Series V: Subject Files

    This series consists of topical materials that Henkin filed separately. There is some overlap with other series, particularly his course materials on Human Rights and International Law, but his original arrangement has been maintained. Records in this series include articles by Henkin and other scholars, citations searches from Westlaw, clippings, correspondence, government publications, journals, legal briefs and opinions, and symposia programs. Materials are arranged alphabetically by topic.

  • Series VI: United Nations

    This series is divided into two subseries. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is a major organ of the United Nations and includes the subsidiary Commission on Human Rights and various sub-commissions. The more substantive subseries is from the Human Rights Committee, a treaty body of the United Nations implemented under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Henkin was one of the 18 appointed experts from 1999-2002. The HRC provides recommendations on reports and individual complaints submitted by states and their citizens.

  • Series VII: Writings

    Henkin was a prolific writer and speaker, and this series includes materials from throughout his career, although the majority dates from the early 1990s through 2002. Articles include related correspondence, drafts, and offprints, and are arranged by year and then alphabetically by title. The bulk of the Books file is publication agreements, royalty statements, reviews, and related correspondence. The file is arranged alphabetically by book title and includes materials from various revisions and reprintings. Conference Proceedings include some of Henkin's published speeches and reprints of his Congressional testimony, and is arranged by date. Unpublished Speeches and Typescripts include notes and typescripts, along with some related correspondence, filed chronologically. Henkin usually spoke extemporaneously from notes, but frequently formalized his notes after the event for potential later publication and those drafts are included here.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

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 has restrictions. Subseries II.1 and Subseries II.2 include folders containing student grades and transcripts which are restricted for 80 years from date of record. Restricted folders are noted in the series note and container list.

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 heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

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

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Center for the Study of Human Rights Records, 1981-2004 [Bulk dates: 1987-2001].

Human Rights First (acquisitioned in 2008, please contact rbml@libraries.cul.columbia.edu for more information)

Reminiscences of Learned Hand: Oral History, 1957. Interviewed by Louis Henkin.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Caitlin Goodman, 2013.

Finding aid written by Caitlin Goodman in March 2013.

Revision Description

2013-03-05 xml document instance created by Caitlin Goodman

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.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Appointment books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Interviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Student records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
American Law Institute Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Aspen Institute Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cassese, Antonio Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Center for the Study of Human Rights Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Faculty Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. School of Law Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Constitutional law Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Damrosch, Lori F (Lori Fisler) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Henkin, Alice H Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Henkin, Louis Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Human Rights First (Organization) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Human Rights Institute (Columbia University. School of Law) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Human rights Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
International law and human rights Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (U.S.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schachter, Oscar, 1915-2003 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United Nations. Human Rights Committee Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Louis Henkin was born Eliezer Henkin on November 11, 1917. Born in what is today Belarus, Henkin emigrated with his family to New York City's Lower East Side in 1923. He graduated from Yeshiva College in 1937 with a degree in mathematics and, on a whim, applied to Harvard Law School. He served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, graduated in 1940, and then clerked for Judge Learned Hand, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Although interrupted by his four years in the U.S. Army, his clerkship with Judge Hand led to a clerkship on the Supreme Court, for Justice Felix Frankfurter. While in the Army with the First Field Artillery Observation Battalion, Henkin was deployed to Europe, serving in France, Germany, Italy, and northern Africa. In 1944, Henkin used his native Yiddish to convince a German colonel to surrender his company, earning a Silver Star for gallantry in action. Henkin's wartime service inspired his interests in international affairs and foreign relations, and after his clerkship for Justice Frankfurter ended in 1947, Henkin spent eight years at the Department of State. There he worked for the United Nations Bureau and NATO, focusing on constitutional law and foreign affairs, and helping to draft the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Henkin began his long career at Columbia University in 1956 as the Associate Director of the Legislative Drafting Research Fund, leading to his first book, Arms Control and Inspection in American Law. In 1958, he began teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, his first faculty position. He married Alice Hartman Henkin, another major figure in international human rights law, in 1960. In 1962 Henkin joined the faculty of Columbia Law School, where he remained until his death in 2010. Henkin's teaching interests were diverse and interdisciplinary, focusing on constitutional law, foreign relations, human rights, international law, and the law of the sea. He developed and fostered significant human rights curricula and scholarship at Columbia University, founding the University's Center for the Study of Human Rights in 1978 and Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute in 1998. In 1999, the law school established the Louis Henkin Professorship in Constitutional and Human Rights.

Outside of Columbia, Henkin was active on a number of advisory committees, particularly in the field of human rights law. He served on the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1963-1969, as an adviser on the Law of the Sea (1973-1980), and spent three terms on the Advisory Committee on International Law. Henkin founded the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) in 1978 and served on its Board. He was also Chief Reporter for the American Law Institute's influential Restatement (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States, published in 1987. He was appointed to the United Nation's Human Rights Committee in 1999 and served through 2002. Henkin was also a prolific scholar. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society and the Institut de Droit International, and served as president and editor-in-chief of the American Society of International Law. He wrote over a dozen books, including How Nations Behave and Foreign Affairs and the Constitution, and edited another ten, including Human Rights, a central academic textbook. Henkin was active into his nineties, writing an amicus brief in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) that was quoted in the Supreme Court's decision, and continuing to lecture. He died at his home in New York City on October 14, 2010, at the age of 92.

Sources:

Grimes, William. "Louis Henkin, Leader in Field of Human Rights Law, Dies at 92."New York Times, 16 October 2010.

Interview of Louis Henkin by Don Anton, 1996.

Von Gutfeld, Sonia. "A Tribute: Columbia Celebrates the Human Rights Legacy of Louis Henkin." 2006.