The Brandeis collection consists of approximately 101 linear ft. of material. In addition to providing a rich resource for those interested in both the personal and public lives of Louis D. Brandeis, this collection offers a wealth of material on American legal history in general, the Progressive and Zionist movements, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the foundation and early years of Brandeis University. The correspondence and personal effects of Susan Brandeis Gilbert have also been integrated into the collection, as have the Hapgood, Burton C. Bernard, and Grady-Brandeis correspondence collections.
The collection is dominated by Brandeis's correspondence. As a whole, these letters provide unique insight into the relationships Brandeis maintained with his wife, Alice, and children, Susan and Elizabeth. A committed correspondent, Brandeis wrote many letters daily, generally brief and pragmatic, but often also containing interesting observations on the events of the day. Many copies of Brandeis's letters held in other archives are also included here. The collection also has a sizeable amount of his official correspondence, providing a rich perspective on the history of American Zionism and the various social and economic causes to which the Justice devoted his time and effort.
Brandeis's family is also well represented in the collection. Their letters help to provide a more complete picture of the personal life of Brandeis. In addition to the letters she wrote to Brandeis and her family, the Alice Brandeis files contain a small but interesting set of documents on the Brandeis household, as well as a large set of condolence letters she received in 1941 on the death of Brandeis. The letters of Susan Brandeis and her husband Jacob Gilbert offer insights into their own activities in American Zionism and the creation of Brandeis University. The files on Elizabeth Brandeis and her husband Paul Raushenbush are few, but do also help one to better grasp the tone and history of the Brandeis family.
The Brandeis collection also houses a large number of publications containing writings of Brandeis, as well as those about or of interest to him. The concentration of these materials in one location provides a broad and useful survey of Brandeis's intellectual development along with the reception accorded him by the media of his day.
The early records of Louis Brandeis consist exclusively of his notebooks from Louisville, Dresden, and Harvard Law School. Many are dry recordings of lectures, though some of the European notes contain brief comments on his travels while abroad in the early 1870s. The legal notebooks and annotated law books may contain information very useful to those interested in his formative legal period.
The collection holds some of Brandeis's personal financial documents. In addition to several accounting books from the later years of his life, there are the nearly complete records of his business correspondence and accounting records, as prepared by the firm of Nutter, McClennen and Fish in Boston. These records run from 1910 through 1941.
The collection also contains several sets of material produced by biographers and bibliographers of Brandeis. Particularly well documented is the project to microfilm his public papers, undertaken by Brandeis University. Biographies by Alden Todd and Alfred Lief are also present. These sets of material present a valuable condensed body of information about the Justice.
The newsclippings catalogued in the Brandeis collection document the major events in the lives of Louis and Alice Brandeis and their children. They are an excellent source for information on the major historical events and movements experienced by the Brandeis family.
Consisting primarily of portraits of Brandeis and vacation photographs of his family on Cape Cod, the Brandeis photograph collection provides a richly detailed portrait of the Justice's personal life. The majority of photographs document his later life, though there are images of his parents, brother Alfred and his childhood in Louisville. Close associates, such as Alice Grady and E lizabeth G. Evans, also appear in this collection. The addition of the family photos of Susan Brandeis to this collection presents a visual history of the founding and early years of Brandeis University.
In addition, the collection houses a large number of other items, including political cartoons, audio recordings, ceremonial items given to Brandeis and his family, research material from the collection of grandson Frank Gilbert, and the books from Brandeis's personal office library.