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Spotlight on the Arlin Adams Papers

November 15, 2022

Arlin M. Adams lecturing
Arlin M. Adams lecturing
The Judge Arlin Adams Papers are available for research at the Biddle Archives.

The Judge Arlin Adams papers are available for research at the Biddle Archives. Arlin M. Adams graduated from Penn Law (now known as Carey Law) in 1946 and taught at Penn from 1952 to 1956. Post-graduation, Adams worked in private practice at the firm Schnader, Harrison, Segal, and Lewis until 1969 when President Nixon nominated him to the Third Circuit Court.

Photograph from the Judge Arlin Adams papers The Judge Arlin Adams papers primarily contain material from his work with professional, charitable, and educational organizations after he retired from the federal bench in 1987 and returned to private practice. During this time, Adams served on many boards including the William Penn Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Board of Overseers, the American Philosophical Center, and the Annenberg Research Institute. In 1997, Adams received the Philadelphia Award for service to the community.

Arlin Adams papers include board meeting minutes, photographs from charitable events, correspondence with Philadelphia religious leaders and other judges, and acceptance speeches for awards he received. Also in his collection are research files on law and religion such as notes from a “Freedom of Speech and Religion” class that Adams taught at Carey Law in 1980, and an early draft of his book The American Constitutional Heritage of Religious Liberty.

Photograph from the Judge Arlin Adams papers

Neysa Adams, Arlin’s wife, donated his papers to the archives in 2017. Two years later, she made a generous donation to Carey Law in memory of her husband which has made the Arlin M. Adams Lecture in Law, Religion, and the First Amendment possible. The lecture takes place every other year, and will be given Thursday, November 17, 2022, by award-winning author and law professor Mary Sarah Bilder on her book Female Genuis: Eliza Harriot and George Washington at the Dawn of the Constitution. More information about the event can be found here.

To learn more about the Judge Arlin Adams Papers, access the finding aid for the collection or contact the Biddle Archives and Special Collections Department.