Columbia University Archives

John G. Palfrey papers, 1940-1979

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0217
Bib ID 11746639 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Palfrey, John G
Title John G. Palfrey papers, 1940-1979
Physical Description 21.25 linear feet (17 boxes)
Language(s) English .

Material is unprocessed. Please contact for more information.

This collection is located onsite.

There are no restrictions on this collection.



This collection consists of materials created by Professor John Palfrey. It contains some materials related to his role on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) but the majority of the collection documents his career at Columbia Law School and includes course materials, student papers, articles, reading materials, etc. There is also some material from his work at Harvard Business School, as well as personal material, and material related to his book manuscript, Bottling the Genie (on atomic energy).

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

Material is unprocessed. Please contact for more information.

This collection is located onsite.

There are no restrictions on this collection.

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); John G. Palfrey Papers; Box and Folder; Columbia University; University Archives, Columbia University Library.


No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative.

Papers accessioned 2/17/2016.

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:"
Columbia University Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. School of Law Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Palfrey, John G Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Palfrey was a native of Boston. He was a 1940 graduate of Harvard University, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a law degree at Harvard in 1946 following wartime service with Army intelligence.

He was a member of the general counsel's office of the AEC from 1947 to 1950. He then spent two years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, where he did research on the political and legal aspects of atomic energy.

In 1952 he joined the faculty of Columbia University Law School. From 1958 until the time he was named to the AEC, Mr. Palfrey served as Dean of Columbia College, the men's undergraduate liberal arts division of Columbia University.

Palfrey returned to the law school after leaving the AEC in 1966. He also had spent a year at both the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the Brookings Institution during the 1970s.

He was the author of a number of articles on atomic energy, arms control and international law. He was a member of the New York Bar Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Institute of Strategic Studies.