Image of Lemuel Shaw

This virtual exhibit showcases nine manuscript letters written to and by Lemuel Shaw (1781-1861), Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1830 to 1860.

These letters span the years 1800 to 1856, nearly Shaw's entire professional career. They were compiled by Arthur P. Rugg (1862-1938), who served on the Supreme Judicial Court from 1906 until his death. They cover a variety of subjects, from the young Shaw's efforts to secure a teaching appointment, to his letter to James Kent regarding the latter's famous "Commentaries on American Law," to a heartfelt letter from fellow SJC judge Samuel Putnam - and much more.

These letters are housed in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room at the Boston College Law Library. Danielle Huntley (BC Law 2009) and Karen Beck (Curator of Rare Books, 1998-2011) transcribed the letters.

For a more complete set of Lemuel Shaw manuscripts, see the Massachusetts Historical Society's Lemuel Shaw Papers, available in microfilm format.

  • Find the Lemuel Shaw Papers on microfilm at Boston College
  • Find the Lemuel Shaw Papers on microfilm at another library via WorldCat
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    Submissions from 1856

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    Letter from Lemuel Shaw to Caleb Cushman, August 4, 1856, Lemuel Shaw

    Submissions from 1842

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    Letter to Lemuel Shaw from Samuel Putnam, January 28, 1842, Samuel Putnam

    Submissions from 1836

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    Letter from Lemuel Shaw to James Kent, May 9, 1836, Lemuel Shaw

    Submissions from 1833

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    Letter to Lemuel Shaw from Charles Folsom , July 4, 1833, Charles Folsom

    Submissions from 1800

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    Letter from Lemuel Shaw to Charles Bulfinch, August 28, 1800, Lemuel Shaw