Biographies and Histories of the NC Supreme Court

Image: From left to right: James Iredell, Sr., Associate Justice of NC Supreme Court 1790-1799 [call number: N_53_15_4192]; John Lewis Taylor, Chief Justice of NC Supreme Court 1818. Also Prominent Lawyer who Conducted Law School 1809-18 [call number: N_53_15_485]; and Augustus S. Merrimon, 1883-1892 [call number: N_53_15_553].

About this collection

Numerous biographies and histories are included in volumes of the North Carolina Reports, the published opinions of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has a growing collection of portraits of former Chief and Associate Justices that hang in the courtroom as well as line the walls of the Justice building. These portraits are often donated by families. During unveiling ceremonies, colleagues as well as family members generally remark on the life and career of the subject of the portrait. These remarks, known as “portrait presentations,” offer unique, biographical glimpses and often contain rich genealogical and historical information, perhaps not contained anywhere else.

In addition to portrait presentations, the North Carolina Supreme Court occasionally honors recently deceased Justices with memoir proceedings, a format that resembles a more traditional eulogy. Although shorter, the memoir proceedings are still rich with biographical information.

Histories of the North Carolina Supreme Court have also been presented at various times. The first was given in 1889, to celebrate the occupancy of the new Supreme Court building. In 1919, the Supreme Court celebrated its centennial anniversary. The North Carolina State Bar proceedings honoring this occasion contain a wealth of North Carolina history as well as that of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

These portrait presentations, memoir proceedings and histories are scattered throughout the more than 360 volumes of the North Carolina Reports and are not easily accessible. Thus, these significant documents have been compiled into one collection, the Biographies and Histories of the North Carolina Supreme Court—a collection that provides researchers with enhanced access to unique and important documents that chronicle the history of the Court and its Justices.