Historical Society

About the Northern District Historical Society

For almost 25 years the Northern District Historical Society has been protecting and enlivening the rich judicial history of the court. From the Chinese Exclusion Laws to Patty Hearst to cutting edge technology disputes, the Northern District has been in the thick of the some of the thorniest problems and most interesting events in California history. The goal of the Society is to preserve, share and enliven the court’s history with lawyers, educators, scholars and students.

The Historical Society has written, published and/or collaborated on a number of excellent books covering important topics in the history of Northern California and its federal district court. We are pleased to offer Historical Society books for sale through our on-line bookstore.

Past Programs

Past program presenters have included:

  • Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor;
  • Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and his brother, Northern District Court Judge Charles Breyer;
  • New York Times Supreme Court correspondent Linda Greenhouse;
  • former Soliticer General Seth Waxman;
  • former White House Counsels John Dean, Abner Mikva and Greg Craig;
  • Pulitzer prize winning Professor Jack Rakove;
  • and Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree, Jr.

Preservation Projects

The Society’s major preservation project is a book about the Northern District, “The Court That Tamed the West,” published in 2013.

Other preservation projects have included a series of oral histories of judges. Starting with Judge Wollenberg, who in a previous career as a United States Attorney prosecuted train robbers and Prohibition violators in the 1920’s, the histories continue through to judges who are currently on the bench. These histories capture not only the facts of Northern District cases, but the flavor of the times through the judges’ reminiscences.


Member benefits include priority sign-up for events, invitations to special members-only receptions, discounts on Historical Society publications and more!

For membership information contact the Society.

Historical Society Program Announcements

There are no public programs currently scheduled. Please check back soon or sign up to receive email announcements.