The papers of Erwin N. Griswold cover the term of Griswold's service on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees from 1936 to 1992. Griswold served on the Board until 1980, and remained an Honorary Trustee until his death in 1994. The more extensive archive relating to Griswold's service as a professor of law and Dean of the Harvard University Law School (1946-67) is held by the Harvard University Law School Library. Records pertaining to Griswold's service (1967-73) as U. S. Solicitor General are located at the National Archives and Records Service.
The Griswold papers are arranged into six record series: I. General Correspondence, II. Committee Files, III. Writings and Interview Transcripts, IV. Miscellaneous Materials, V. Awards and Degrees, and VI. Photographs. Within series, files are typically arranged alphabetically by topic or type of material. The file headings employed by Erwin Griswold and by the archivist in 1977 are largely maintained in the present arrangement.
During the 55-year period from 1936 to 1992 covered in these papers, decisions were made which transformed the "old" or nineteenth-century Oberlin College into the modern institution it remains. The general correspondence of Erwin Griswold offers an especially useful overview of the role he and other members of the Board of Trustees played during this time. The years encompass the administrations of six college presidents: Ernest Hatch Wilkins (1927-46), William Edwards Stevenson (1946-59), Robert Kenneth Carr (1960-70), Robert Works Fuller (1970-74), Emil Charles Danenberg (1975-82), and S. Frederick Starr (1983-94). Topics covered in the correspondence include tenure decisions and other personnel actions, including the controversial Orville C. Jones termination in 1945, faculty vs. administrative control, development and alumni affairs, budget and investment decisions, the closing of the Graduate School of Theology, building construction, admissions procedures, and financial aid policies. Griswold's correspondence with Starr is especially voluminous, covering a range of topics from the college's finances and administration to Eastern European affairs.
Closely related thematically to the correspondence are the committee files located in series II. These files, containing both correspondence and attached and related materials, document the work of the various committees of the Board and other college committees on which Griswold sat as a member or as committee chair. Board of Trustee committees represented in these papers are the Executive, Appointments, Investment, Legal Questions and By-Laws, Nomination of Trustees, Pension, Personnel, and Trustee-Faculty Conference committees. Of special interest are files relating to the formation in 1945 of the Committee on the Presidency and those relating to the work of the Presidential Search Committee (1973-75). Correspondence bearing on the search which led to the appointment of President Stevenson in 1945 and President Carr in 1959 is located in the records of the Board of Trustees (RG 1).
Two biographical items extant in this collection include a special issue of the Harvard Law Review (June, 1973), and an oral history interview transcript prepared by the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1989. The editors of the Harvard Law Review dedicated an issue to Erwin Griswold on the occasion of his retirement as Solicitor General. Contents include recollections and tributes by colleagues and friends. The interview covers Griswold's childhood in Cleveland, his years at Oberlin College and Harvard Law School, his early European travels, his professional legal career, and his views on legal education, American legal history, and various Supreme Court justices. This interview should be supplemented by a 1984 oral history interview conducted by Oberlin history professor Geoffrey Blodgett, focusing on Griswold's Oberlin experience, in Record Group 43.
Griswold's legal scholarship is not well represented in these papers. A complete bibliography of his books, articles, and opinions is not yet assembled; however, a partial bibliography can be compiled with reference to Current Law Index, Index to Legal Periodicals, and the "Lexis" legal research database. The typescript manuscript of Griswold's 1925 Oberlin College M.A. thesis, "The Doctrine of Judicial Review", is available in the Oberlin College Library Special Collections Department, together with various reprints, extracts from periodicals, and select publications.