Oral History Interviews

Interviews with the Michigan Supreme Court Justices is a collection of oral history interviews of former members of the state’s highest court. Since September 1990, the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society has conducted interviews with Michigan’s judicial luminaries and plans to continue to add to this vital and rich historical record as justices finish their service with the court.

In 2001, the Historical Society began a partnership with the Michigan State University Libraries aimed at bringing these priceless historical audio documents to the world, via the World Wide Web. All of the existing analog interview recordings have been digitized, along with all written transcripts, by MSU Libraries’ G. Robert Vincent Voice Library. All of the materials have also been professionally cataloged and are served from the Libraries’ online public access catalog (OPAC) and via Web pages designed by MSU Libraries’ staff.

Since its founding in 1836, the Michigan Supreme Court has featured an array of colorful and astute legal giants who have shaped Michigan law and national legal scholarship and have made both history and headlines. The Society’s oral history collection includes the voices of such famous legal minds and Supreme Court Justices as Dennis Archer, former Mayor of Detroit, former Michigan Governor John Swainson, and John Voelker, who as Robert Traver, wrote the bestselling courtroom novel, Anatomy of a Murder. In these interviews, the justices talk about the inner workings of the court, their colleagues, legal and legislative issues, and important cases they heard during their tenure. As in the best oral histories, the justices are often candid in their comments and eager to set the historical record straight.

The G. Robert Vincent Voice Library of the Michigan State University Libraries is one of the largest academic collections of spoken word recordings in the United States and includes over 40,000 hours of speeches and interviews, dating back to 1888. Voice Library collection policies are eclectic by design, but strong areas of emphasis include American and foreign politics and government, popular culture, sports, literature and the arts, old radio, labor history, Michigan history, and current events and news. Items are cataloged at the item level and are found in the MSU Libraries’ OPAC and at the Voice Library Web page.

Justices Interviews —

Dennis Archer

Patricia Boyle

Thomas E. Brennan

Mary Coleman

George Edwards

John Fitzgerald

Thomas G. Kavanagh

Charles Levin

Lawrence Lindemer

James Ryan

Otis Smith

Theodore Souris

John Swainson

John Voelker