Register of the John Lord O'Brian Papers, 1916-1962

Prepared by Hoover Institution Archives staff
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Phone: (650) 723-3563
Fax: (650) 725-3445
© 2000
Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Register of the John Lord O'Brian Papers, 1916-1962

Hoover Institution Archives

Stanford University

Stanford, California

Contact Information

  • Hoover Institution Archives
  • Stanford University
  • Stanford, California 94305-6010
  • Phone: (650) 723-3563
  • Fax: (650) 725-3445
  • Email:
Prepared by:
Terrence Brown
Date completed:
June 1976
© 2000 Hoover Institution Archives. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: John Lord O'Brian Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1916-1962
Collection number: 70001
Creator: O'Brian, John Lord, 1874-
Collection Size: 4 manuscript boxes, 3 microfilm reels (2 linear feet)
Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Correspondence, memoranda, affidavits, clippings, printed matter, and speeches and writings, relating to the administration of the War Emergency Division of the Department of Justice, registration of enemy aliens, civil liberties in time of war, and domestic subversion in the United States during World War I.
Language: English.

Administrative Information


Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

Publication Rights

For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], John Lord O'Brian Papers, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.

Acquisition Information

Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1970.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

Access Points

United States. Dept. of Justice. War Emergency Division.
Aliens--United States.
Civil rights--United States.
Subversive activities--United States.
World War, 1914-1918.
World War, 1914-1918--United States.
United States--Politics and government.


American lawyer; head of the War Emergency Division, United States Department of Justice, 1917-1919

Biographical Note

1874 October 14 Born, Buffalo, New York
1896 A.B., Harvard
1898 graduated, University of Buffalo Law School
1902 married, Alma E. White
1903-1929 Trustee, University of Buffalo
1907-1909 Member, New York State Assembly
1909-1914 U.S. Attorney for Western District of New York
1913 Candidate for Mayor of Buffalo, New York
1915 Delegate-at-large at New York State Constitutional Convention
1916 Delegate (for Hughes), National Republican Convention in Chicago
1917 Chairman, Draft Board Appeals, Western New York
1917-1919 Head of War Emergency Division, Department of Justice
1920 opposed expulsion of Socialists elected to New York State Legislature
1920 Permanent Chairman, Republican State Convention, New York City
1921-1930 Buffalo Trustee, Albright Knox Art Gallery
1925-1926 Vice Chairman, New York State Reorganization Committee
1929-1933 Assistant to Attorney General, Antitrust Division, Department of Justice
1931-1947 Regent, University of State of New York
1935-1939 Special Counsel, Tennessee Valley Authority, Argued Ashwander vs. T.V.A.
1938 Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate from New York
1939-1945 Overseer, Harvard University
1940 nominated Thomas Dewey for President at Republican National Convention in Philadelphia
1941-1944 General Counsel, War Production Board
1944 joined Covington, Burling, Rublee, Acheson & Shorb, Washington, D. C.
1945 President, Harvard Alumni Association
1947 Chairman, Flying Pay Board
1948 Chairman, Oak Ridge Labor Dispute
1950-1957 Chairman for Endowment of Harvard Divinity School
1951 elected Washington Literary Society
1951 appointed to National Advisory Board on Mobilization Policy
1955 John Lord O'Brian Chair Established at Harvard Divinity School
1957 participated in Youth Forum Broadcast sponsored by the New York Times.
1962 honored by Chief Justice Earl Warren on 50th Anniversary of Admission to the Bar of the Court
1963 member of Lawyer's Committee on Civil Rights (appointed by President Kennedy)
1968, April 13 death of Mrs. John Lord O'Brian in Buffalo
1972 new law building at SUNY at Buffalo, named after O'Brian by State University Board of Trustees
1973, April 10 died at Washington, D. C.

Container List



Scope and Content Note

Arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
Box 1.

Dunlap, John R., 1918


Gibbons, James (Cardinal), 1918


Gregory, Thomas Watt, 1918

Boxes: 1-3.

SUBJECT FILE, 1916-1952

Scope and Content Note

Memoranda, newspaper clippings, printed matter, and affidavits arranged alphabetically by title.
Box 1.

Agreement Between the United States of America and Germany concerning Prisoners of War, Sanitary Personnel and Civil Prisoners, 1918. Department of State publication. Printed copy.


Album of Four Minute Men's Activities, 1918. Dealing with activities of private spy organizations.


The Alien's Restriction Order, 1918. London. His Majesty's Stationery Office. Printed copy.


Amnesty and Pardon for Political Prisoners. Pamphlet printed for the use of the Committee in the Judiciary, Washington, D. C., 1921. Printed copy.


Black Tom explosion, June 1916. German affidavits.

Box 2.

Consolidated orders respecting Trading with the Enemy, Ottawa, 1916. Printed copy.


Les Prisoniers de Guerre et les Civils, Agence des Prisoniers de Guerre, 1918. Printed copy.


New Encroachments on Individual Freedom, a reprint excerpt from Harvard Law Review, volume 66, No. I, 1952.


The Reacquisition of a Negotiable Instrument by a Prior Party. printed excerpt from unknown source, n.d.


Regulations for the Employment of Prisoners of War, 1918. Department of War publication, 1918. Printed copy.


United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Investigation


Album of Military Information Matters of the War Emergency Division, 1917-1918.

Box 3.

Interpretation of War Statutes, 1917. Printed excerpt from unknown source.


Memoranda of the Secret Service, 1919




Registration of German Alien Females, 1918. Printed matter and typewritten copies.


Untermeyer, Samuel - Complicity with the German Embassy

Box: 4.


Scope and Content Note

Typewritten and printed speeches and lectures by John Lord O'Brian arranged alphabetically by title.
Box 4.

Changing Aspects of Freedom, a lecture delivered at Washington and Lee University, 1952. The John Randolph Tucker Lectures. Printed copy.


Civil Liberty in War Time, a paper presented at the 32nd Annual Meeting of the New York State Bar Association, 1919. Printed copy.


The Government and Civil Liberties: World War I and After, a reprint from the John Randolf Tucker Lectures, Washington and Lee University, 1952. Printed copy


The Government and the Enemy Alien, Speech printed in the Herald-Tribune Forum, 1939. Printed copy


New Dangers and Contemporary Governmental Activities, a reprint of a speech given in The John Randolph Tucker Lectures, 1952. Printed copy


Some Footnotes to History, a speech given before the Washington Literary Society, 1962. Typewritten copy.