Pennsylvania Supreme Court: A Sub-group of the Honorable Michael A. Musmanno Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection is a part of a greater collection entitled The Honorable Michael A. Musmanno Papers. This collection deals primarily with Musmanno’s work in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in which he served from 1951 until his death in 1968. Musmanno had a number of opinions about various court cases in the Supreme Court, often time they were dissents from the majority opinion. Musmanno had a productive first year on the Supreme Court as was detailed by a number of newspaper clippings describing his record number of dissents, a distinct difference from the norm earlier justices created. This collection contains most of his opinions on various court cases throughout his career on the Supreme Court. There are 10 boxes in total in this collection, making up approximately 10 cubic feet of space. The records themselves span Musmanno’s career starting in 1951 until 1968. This collection contains commentary and personal writings from Musmanno written during his time on the Supreme Court. There are some items in short hand, and a portion of written correspondence Musmanno had with colleagues. This collection is broken up into six series. The first series, Musmanno’s opinions, were grouped by date; however, the original processor did not have all of the opinions. Thus creating a bit of a jump in dates for series one. Series 2 includes supplemental trial information, while series three is devoted to the Musmanno v. Eldredge case. The fourth series is devoted to the writings while the last two series five and six are comprised of correspondence and clippings consequently. When the collection was reprocessed, the subsequent series were added, and are organized by date. There are no further restrictions on this collection.
- 1951 - 1968
Biographical / Historical
Michael A. Musmanno was born April 7, 1897, in Stowe Township, Allegheny County, PA. In 1923, he was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar and worked for several years as an attorney. He served 4 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and, in 1932; he began his lifelong career as a jurist. In 1951, he became a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. During the World War II, Captain Musmanno served as naval aide to General Mark Clark, Fifth Army, during the Italian invasion. Musmanno led the U.S. investigation to determine if Adolf Hitler died at the end of the war. He served as a presiding judge at the Nuremberg War Crime trials and retired from active duty as a rear admiral. He was again elected to serve as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge, a position he held until his death. In 1964, Musmanno ran an unsuccessful campaign for United States Senate. Aside from his political career, he was a prolific writer, publishing 16 books, including Ten Days To Die, Black Fury, Across the Street From the Courthouse, The Story of Italians in America, and Columbus Was First as well as a number of short stories and articles. Judge Musmanno passed away at the age of 71 on Columbus Day, October 12, 1968.
10 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
Series 1: Musmanno’s Opinions This series contains the opinions Musmanno made in the Supreme Court. It spans the career of Justice Musmanno. There is very little commentary on the opinions themselves, although series later in the collection might provide additional information. The series is organized chronologically by date, as that would have been the order in which the cases were tried in the Supreme Court. It should be noted that the original processor did not have all of the opinions. Thus when this collection was reprocessed the newly found opinions were placed at the end of series 1 in their own chronological order, creating a bit of a jump in dates for series one. This series make up the largest portion of this collection, with the known dates ranging from 1951-1968. This series is helpful for researchers wanting to know Musmanno’s particular opinion on a variety of Supreme Court cases.
Series 2: Supplemental Trial Information This series contains additional information that was used to support Musmanno’s various opinions for Supreme Court cases. It also contains information Musmanno might have received when he was first sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court including information on pensions. It is organized chronologically by date. This series is helpful for any researcher looking to better understand how Musmanno may have arrived at his opinion in various trials.
Series 3: The Case of Musmanno vs. Laurence H. Eldredge This series contains the papers involved in the case of Musmanno v. Eldredge. Musmanno had written a dissenting opinion for a particular case. In the transcript of the trial, Musmanno argued that he would write a dissenting opinion. The two opinions his dissent as well as the majority would both be published. However, the state reporter Laurence Eldredge did not publish the opinion. Musmanno was not pleased and took the matter up with the Supreme Court. It was eventually rectified. This collection is chronological in its organization. This series is useful for researchers looking to get more information on the trial itself as well as Musmanno’s position in the matter.
Series 4: Writings This series contains the writings, speeches and commentary collected during Musmanno’s time on the Supreme Court; the dates of the series range from 1952-1968. This series was broken up into three subseries. The first subseries is devoted to Musmanno’s personal writings about the Supreme Court. It covers a variety of topics, including his opinion on the Supreme Court of the United States. The second subseries is devoted to speeches given while Musmanno served on the Supreme Court. Musmanno’s most prolific speeches included the one he gave on term limits for the United States Supreme Court. The last subseries is comprised of commentary from other authors about the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. This series is useful for researchers looking for commentary and outside information about Musmanno, as well as information about topics Musmanno was passionate about during his time on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Series 5: Correspondence This series is devoted to the correspondence that Musmanno had while sitting as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The series itself is organized chronologically. Musmanno corresponded with Laurence Eldredge frequently, and when applicable those letters were placed within their own folders. The dates of the series ranges from 1951-1968. This series is useful as it helps researchers better understand Musmanno’s work on the Supreme Court as well as his correspondence amongst his fellow colleagues.
Series 6: Clippings This series contains newspaper clippings collected during Musmanno’s time on the Supreme Court. This series is organized again by category and then chronologically from 1951-1968. This series is useful for researchers looking for some commentary on some of the opinions and work of Musmanno made during his career.
The personal papers and library of the former Pennsylvania State Supreme Court justice, congressional representative, and author Michael A. Musmanno are located in the University Archives at Duquesne University. Documents include papers from Musmanno’s time as a defense attorney in the Sacco & Vanzetti trial, judge in the Nuremburg Trials, witness in the case against Adolf Eichmann, and interviews with Hitler’s associates. The collection also covers papers related to campaigns to end the Sunday Blue Laws, illegalize the Communist Party and to disband the Coal and Iron Police. This particular collection is an extension of these holdings, containing Musmanno’s work from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Musmanno had many opinions on various trials throughout his time on the Supreme Court. In many cases, his opinions were dissents against the majority opinion. This collection holds copies of his opinions ranging throughout the entire time he sat upon the Supreme Court. There are also papers relating to supplemental trial information, correspondence, writings and clippings all regarding the Supreme Court. A small section of this collection includes the brief trial Musmanno v. Laurence Eldredge. Musmanno had written a dissenting opinion for a particular case. In the transcript of the trial, Musmanno argued that he would write a dissenting opinion. The two opinions his dissent as well as the majority would both be published. However, the state reporter Laurence Eldredge did not publish the opinion. Musmanno was not pleased and took the matter up with the Supreme Court. It was eventually rectified. The collection is broken up into six series; the first and largest series containing Musmanno’s opinions. The following series make up supplemental trial material, followed by Musmanno v. Eldredge material, then writings, with correspondence and clippings after.
Reprocessed and updated by Gina DelGreco, January 2018 Processed by Michael Hassett February 2011
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court
- Duquesne University Archives and Special Collection
- Gina DelGreco
- January 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Special Collections Repository