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George Finch Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSS-014

Description

Contains the career papers of George Finch and some material from James Brown Scott, including manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, teaching materials, newspaper clippings and publications.

Dates

  • 1907 - 1960
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 1954

Creator

Rights

All rights reserved by Georgetown University Law Library unless otherwise noted.

Biography

The George Finch Collection provides an interesting and unique glimpse into the attitudes and concerns of leading lawyers and politicians during the first half of the twentieth century. With two World Wars, the birth of the United Nations, and the beginnings of the Cold War, international law underwent a transformation from a niche field to one that stood in the national spotlight.

The Collection contains materials from George Finch and James Brown Scott spanning their time at the Department of State and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. George Finch graduated from Georgetown Law in 1907. James Brown Scott is credited with the establishment of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

When James Brown Scott left the position of Solicitor at the Department of State 1911 to become Secretary and one of the original Trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and its Director of the Division of International Law, Finch followed. They worked together there and in the American Society of International Law. Scott helped to found the Society and was made its President in 1929. The pair also worked to found the Hague Academy which first opened its doors at the Peace Palace to students in 1923 following World War I. Both were well known and highly decorated by foreign governments and regularly served as delegates to conferences.

Scott began his career with no formal training in the English or American common law and, only five years after his 1891 graduation with an A.M. from Harvard, founded and became the first Dean of the Law School at Los Angeles, now the University of Southern California Law School. He also served as Dean at the University of Illinois Law School and Professor at Columbia Law School during the early years of his career. In 1907, he served as a technical delegate to the Second Hague Peace Conference.

In addition to Scott’s work with the Carnegie Endowment, American Society of International Law, and Hague Academy he continued to serve in a diplomatic capacity after leaving the Department of State. Most significantly, he served as Legal Advisor to the American delegation in Paris to negotiate peace following World War I (Finch was an Assistant Legal Advisor to the delegation). He was also a staunch supporter of an international court system and of women’s rights. He received at least six nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Outside of his work with Scott, Finch is perhaps best known for his work in support of the Bricker Amendment in the 1950s until his death in 1957. An outgrowth of American isolationism and concern about Communism following World War II, the Bricker Amendment sought to limit the President’s treaty-making power. Finch, who saw an “extraordinary parallelism between the proposed Covenant on Human Rights and the Soviet Constitution,” was concerned that such a treaty might be used to circumvent the Bill of Rights in domestic concerns. The amendment failed in the Senate by a single vote in 1954 and would never get any further, though it and similar amendments were reintroduced in subsequent years.

Extent

32.8 linear feet (70 archival storage boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into eight series.

  1. Series I - George A. Finch Papers
  2. Series II - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  3. Series III - James Brown Scott Papers
  4. Series IV - Hague Academy and Hague American Academy
  5. Series V - Eleanor Finch
  6. Series VI - Photographs
  7. Series VII - Nationality Rights of Women
  8. Series VIII - Notecards

Processing

Special Collections is processing these materials: i.e. removing acidic folders and replacing with acid-free folders, removing staples and clips, flattening creased documents, and recording the content of each folder on an inventory list. Inventory is attached.
Title
Finding Aid to the George Finch Collection (Coll. 14)
Author
Hannah T. Miller and DRJ
Date
9/28/11
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts Repository

Contact:
Georgetown University Law Library
111 G. Street NW
Washington D.C. 20001
202-662-9133