Welcome toLouis D. Brandeis: An Inspiring Life

Welcome toLouis D. Brandeis: An Inspiring Life

Welcome to Louis D. Brandeis: An Inspiring Life, a digital exhibition presented by the Robert D. Farber University Archives & Special Collections Department at Brandeis University, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Louis D. Brandeis's Appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Support for the centennial celebration comes from Brandeis University and from the Louis D. Brandeis Legacy Fund for Social Justice, founded by Jules Bernstein ’57.

Louis D. Brandeis: An Inspiring Life
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Early Life

Early Life

Louis was born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 13, 1856 to Frederika Dembitz and Adolph Brandeis. Adolph and Frederika, immigrants from Prague, first settled in Indiana where Adolph opened a starch factory. They then moved to Louisville so that Adolph could open the firm Brandeis & Crawford, which specialized in the grain trade.

Louis attended the German and English Academy and the Louisville Male School. In 1872, when he was 16, the Brandeis family moved to Europe for three years. During that time, Louis toured England, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland with his family and studied at the Annen-Realschule (Anne Secondary School) in Dresden, Germany.

In 1875, Louis entered Harvard Law School. He was not yet 19 years old. At Harvard, he participated in the mock trial club called the Pow Wow Club, he helped found the Harvard Law School Association, and he served as treasurer of the Harvard Law Review. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1890 and received an honorary master’s degree in 1891. At Harvard, Louis met his future law partner, Samuel D. Warren, Jr., and future colleague, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who was a lecturer at the Harvard Law School. 1

  • Louis D. Brandeis’s German Notebook

  • Louis D. Brandeis’s Law Book

  • "Boyhood of Brandeis—An Early View of the Man"

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 2

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis as a Young Boy

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and his Siblings

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 20

  • Photograph of Frederika Dembitz

  • Photograph of Mother and Father Dembitz

  • Photograph of Adolf Brandeis

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Marriage & Family

Marriage & Family

Louis Brandeis married Alice Goldmark, his second cousin, in 1891. Their old friend, social reformer Elizabeth Glendower Evans, described them as “[l]ong married lovers” who did everything together. 1 Alice was a charter member of the Woman’s City Club of Boston and became the Chair of the National Community Center Association after years of advocating for public schools. She also was a charter member of the Massachusetts League for Peace and Freedom. 2 Louis and Alice were generous supporters of a variety of social justice causes.

Their oldest daughter, Susan, born in 1893, was one of the first women to argue in front of the Supreme Court of the United States.3

Their youngest daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1896, served on the Wisconsin governor’s Committee on Migratory Labor and the United States Labor Department’s Advisory Committee on Young Workers. She became a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin. With her husband, Paul Raushenbush, she also worked on unemployment insurance in Wisconsin. Her work was lauded for its contribution to New Deal legislation. 4

  • Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Alice Goldmark on October 12, 1890

  • “People I Have Known” by Elizabeth Glendower Evans

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis in Chatham

  • Photograph of Alice G. Brandeis in Chatham

  • Louis D. Brandeis and Alice Goldmark’s Wedding Invitation

  • Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Elizabeth Brandeis on December 29, 1900

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and Louis, Alice, and Frank Gilbert in Chatham

  • Photograph of Susan and Elizabeth Brandeis and their children in Chatham

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis playing tennis in Dedham

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and Alice G. Brandeis with 4 grandchildren in Chatham

  • Photograph of the Brandeis Family in 1933

  • Postcard of Chatham

  • The Brandeis Family Tree

  • “Justice Brandeis at Home” by Elizabeth Glendower Evans

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Career

Career

After graduating from Harvard Law School, Louis practiced law in St. Louis, but he soon left for Boston where he accepted a clerical position under Horace Gray of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. He also established and worked at the firm Warren & Brandeis with Samuel D. Warren, Jr. until 1889. Brandeis represented the public and donated his income to charities in his early years. He soon decided to forgo an income and reimbursed his firm for the hours he spent representing the public.

In an early case, he protested the plans for a railway to build through the Boston Common. In 1897, when the Boston Elevated Railway company gained a monopoly to operate on heavily-traveled routes for an increased price, Brandeis argued that the public good should outweigh the private benefit. He led a campaign to spread information to the people so that they would understand and join the cause.

Brandeis later represented the Protective Committee of Policy Holders of the Equitable Life Assurance Society because he believed that the insurance industry could be improved. He once again led a campaign to gain support for the cause, and in 1907, the Massachusetts governor signed Savings Bank Life Insurance into law.

Brandeis and Warren published “The Right to Privacy” in 1890. The article was inspired by increasing gossip about Warren’s marriage to Mabel Bayard, a Boston Brahmin.

In 1908, Brandeis’s landmark case, Muller v. Oregon provided a glimpse into his future as a justice of the Supreme Court. 2

Louis Brandeis was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson to fill Justice Hugo Black’s seat on the Supreme Court of the United States on January 28, 1916. After an unprecedented four-month long confirmation process which was described as a “kind of inquisition”, Brandeis became the first Jewish Justice of the Supreme Court. 1 He retired on February 13, 1939.

  • Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Alice G. Brandeis on January 14, 1908

  • “New England Transportation Monopoly” (The Proposed Merger)

  • Curt Muller, Plaintiff in Error v. State of Oregon

  • “The Right to Privacy” by Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren, Jr.

  • “Savings Bank Life Insurance, Wage Earners’ Life Insurance” by Louis D. Brandeis

  • “A Solution to the Trust Problem” by Louis D. Brandeis

  • A Brief Submitted to the Railroad Committee of 1908 in Answer to the Argument of Louis D. Brandeis on New Haven Securities as Savings Bank Investments

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis in his Office with Alice Grady and Irving Hurst

  • Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis at age 38

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 59

  • Cartoons Featuring Louis D. Brandeis

  • Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Alice G. Brandeis on June 29, 1916

  • Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. on March 8, 1927

  • Letter from President Woodrow Wilson to the U.S. Senate printed on May 9, 1916

  • Extract from the Address of Hon. Samuel Seabury delivered before the Far Western Travellers’ Association at the Hotel Astor on February 7, 1916

  • “The People’s Tribune” by Elizabeth Glendower Evans

  • “Louis D. Brandeis, Accelerator of the Railway Economy” printed in the New York Tribune

  • Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis on February 2, 1916

  • Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis in Robes

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 84

  • Photograph of all 9 Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1923

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Zionism

Zionism

Louis Brandeis was not active in the Zionist movement until he was in his late fifties. He was elected Chair of the Provisional Committee for General Zionist Affairs in 1914 and opened the New England Zionist Office with his own money. While he was a Justice of the Supreme Court, he continued to support the Zionist movement, but as a Supreme Court justice, he was restricted from maintaining his other leadership roles.

However, he advised President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Jewish issues and helped establish Ein Hashofet (“well of the judge”), the first American-established Kibbutz in Palestine in 1937. 1 Throughout his life and in his will, many of his charitable donations supported Zionist causes. 2

  • Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to President Woodrow Wilson on February 4, 1920

  • “Marching on to Zion” Sheet Music by Samuel H. Borofsky and Henry A. Russotto

  • Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and Jonas Friedenwald in Palestine

  • Scroll inscribed to Louis D. Brandeis from the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund

  • Louis D. Brandeis’s Washington Zionist Circle Membership Card

  • Brandeis Centennial Dinner Plate

  • “The Jewish Problem: How to Solve it” by Louis D. Brandeis

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Legacy

Legacy

Louis D. Brandeis died on October 5, 1941. Sympathies poured in to Alice Brandeis from around the world. Government officials, judges, editors, academics, student zionists, rabbis, friends, and family all relayed their condolences and expressed their thoughts about Brandeis’s immense contribution to American life and his championship of Zionism.

The University of Louisville Law School was named in Brandeis’s honor. His ashes were buried under the porch of the Law School building.

The Harvard Law Review honored Brandeis by dedicating an edition to him after his death. 1 In 1968, Harvard Law School established the Louis D. Brandeis Professorship of Law.

Rabbi Israel Goldstein, heading a group of Jewish community leaders, gave life and substance to an idea for a secular Jewish university, first proposed to Brandeis in 1931 by a Zionist named Abraham Sakier. Less than a decade after Brandeis's death, this institution was opened and named in his honor. The University emphasized a non-discriminatory policy for admission and a student body small enough to encourage the development of community. 2

  • Tribute to Louis D. Brandeis from Massachusetts

  • Photograph of the Launching of the SS Louis D. Brandeis

  • Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis's Office Display in the Brandeis University Library

  • News About Brandeis University printed in July, 1947

  • Photograph of Susan Brandeis receiving her Honorary Degree from Abram Sachar at Brandeis University

  • Invitation to the Inauguration of Brandeis University

  • Letters from Dean Acheson to Alice G. Brandeis in October, 1941

  • Telegram from The Orthodox Jewish Youth of America to Alice G. Brandeis on October 8, 1941

  • Letter from The American Civil Liberties Union to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

  • Letter from Antioch College to Alice G. Brandeis on October 11, 1941

  • Letter from the Baltimore Young Men Relief Association and Ladies’ Auxiliary and Extract from the Baltimore Sun on October 10, 1941

  • Radiogram from the Brandeis School Herzlia to Alice G. Brandeis on October 15, 1941

  • Letter from the Brookline-Brighton-Newton Zionist District to Alice G. Brandeis on October 20, 1941

  • “Louis D. Brandeis” by Lewis H. Weinstein

  • Letter from The U.S. Senate to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

  • Telegram from The Czechoslovak National Council of America to Alice G. Brandeis on October 6, 1941

  • Radiogram from the London Executive Jewish Agency to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

  • Letter from Agnes Fitzpatrick to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

  • Telegram from The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union to Alice G. Brandeis on October 6, 1941

  • Letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Alice G. Brandeis on October 6, 1941

  • Letter from Edward Rothchild to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

  • List of Books by Members of the Brandeis Family

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Brandeis University Law Journal Special Volume

Brandeis University Law Journal,
January 2016 Special Volume

  • Brandeis University Law Journal,
    January 2016 Special Volume

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Explore

Explore

  • Follow #LDB100

  • Mapping Louis D. Brandeis's Life

  • Brandeis University Alma Mater,
    as performed by No Singer Clef Behind

  • Help us transcribe LDB's letters!

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Louis D. Brandeis’s German Notebook

Louis D. Brandeis’s Law Book

"Boyhood of Brandeis—An Early View of the Man"

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 2

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis as a Young Boy

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and his Siblings

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 20

Photograph of Frederika Dembitz

Photograph of Mother and Father Dembitz

Photograph of Adolf Brandeis

Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Alice Goldmark on October 12, 1890

Transcript

My dear good Alice:

How long it seems since I woke this morning, and I have been with you alone nearly all the day.

R[eginald] Gray and Maynard came for the ride about eleven; we had two hours across country with a half-dozen fences to warm the blood; but much time wandered quietly through the woods, the men sympathized with nature and said nice things of you, and I was glad to be with them. This was all that I saw of my fellow beings except the Cabots for a moment in the afternoon. They were out for a ride & came over to bring me their congratulations.

After lunch and a siesta, I wandered off to the Charles.

Sky and river were of intense blue[,] the sun shone brightly and the red maples were reflected in all their glory. As we glided along quietly (the canoe & I) it seemed as if we were on the voyage of eternal peace. I thought, Alice, how you will love the canoe, and how well it expresses you: the silent dignity, strong but tender, sensitive to the slightest touch, responsive to every word, listening with blended head to each whisper of nature, with a heart for all human emotions and a soul to grasp the divine. Canoeing is not a sport; that were to make it frivolous and ignoble. It is the great interpreter of nature—unarticulate poetry, dumb music.

Dear, I felt ashamed at the neglected look of the canoe. It needs of scraping and of varnish, & bands and patches to make her tight, reproached me. I recalled how long this had been so—and how before you came to me I had not the interest to put her in order. Today I was thinking of the joy of working over the canoe with you by my side.

Alice, Alfred was wrong in saying I am “very much in love.” No this is not a passion, not a fever with which I have fallen. It is that I love you, for the light has come to [me], as faith and religion sometimes come to man.

At dusk I started off for town. Long ride by star light was a fitting ending for the day. The air was crisp Sunday and the darkness added to the peace.

Good night, dear

“People I Have Known” by Elizabeth Glendower Evans

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis in Chatham

Photograph of Alice G. Brandeis in Chatham

Louis D. Brandeis and Alice Goldmark’s Wedding Invitation

Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Elizabeth Brandeis on December 29, 1900

Transcript

Do you like New York? And how does your doll like to be with Grandma and all the Aunts and Uncles. I hope she has not cried much. The Christmas tree and Santa Claus are very anxious to see you and Susan again, and want to know whether they shall wait until you come back from New York. Santa Claus would like to come down from the tree and rest in Susan’s bed. Do you think I should let him?

Papa

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and Louis, Alice, and Frank Gilbert in Chatham

Photograph of Susan and Elizabeth Brandeis and their children in Chatham

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis playing tennis in Dedham

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and Alice G. Brandeis with 4 grandchildren in Chatham

Photograph of the Brandeis Family in 1933

Postcard of Chatham

The Brandeis Family Tree

“Justice Brandeis at Home” by Elizabeth Glendower Evans

Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Alice G. Brandeis on January 14, 1908

Transcript

Dearest: Had a half hour with Sen. Crane yesterday afternoon, with shades carefully drawn. I was reminded of Anna Karenina’s discovery of Oblonsky’s long ears.

Peeped in at Justice Holmes for tea, & returned for a charming dinner with them à quatre [sic]—quite as of old. Between times I called at the Cordova where I saw the 4 Goldmarks & Mrs. Tompkins & Miss Sasis.

Had had half an hour with Henry at luncheon. He is not going to N.Y. this week as his boss is here from Panama. He seems well content with Panama prospects . . . is expected from N.Y. today. Asa P. French had an interview with Prest. [Roosevelt] yesterday. Have not seen him since.

Weather rainy yesterday, fine today. Case may not be reached until tomorrow.

Louis


Dearest: . . . Our case will not be reached until two or a little earlier tomorrow and it is questionable whether I shall be able to leave before Thursday afternoon. Of course I long to be back—although Washington is having its bad weather . . . Muller can’t escape.

Called on Herbert Putnam—who was very pleased . . .

Louis


“New England Transportation Monopoly” (The Proposed Merger)

Curt Muller, Plaintiff in Error v. State of Oregon

“The Right to Privacy” by Louis D. Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren, Jr.

“Savings Bank Life Insurance, Wage Earners’ Life Insurance” by Louis D. Brandeis

“A Solution to the Trust Problem” by Louis D. Brandeis

A Brief Submitted to the Railroad Committee of 1908 in Answer to the Argument of Louis D. Brandeis on New Haven Securities as Savings Bank Investments

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis in his Office with Alice Grady and Irving Hurst

Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis at age 38

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 59

Cartoons Featuring Louis D. Brandeis

Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Alice G. Brandeis on June 29, 1916

Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. on March 8, 1927

Transcript

O.W.H- March 8, 1927

"And he to me: 'Let no step of thine descend;
Ever up the mount behind me win thy way . . .'
'Of a surety, Master mine,' said I, 'never
saw I so clearly as I discern, there where my
wit seemed at fault. . . .' "

L.D.B.

Letter from President Woodrow Wilson to the U.S. Senate printed on May 9, 1916

Extract from the Address of Hon. Samuel Seabury delivered before the Far Western Travellers’ Association at the Hotel Astor on February 7, 1916

“The People’s Tribune” by Elizabeth Glendower Evans

“Louis D. Brandeis, Accelerator of the Railway Economy” printed in the New York Tribune

Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis on February 2, 1916

Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis in Robes

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis at age 84

Photograph of all 9 Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1923

Letter from Louis D. Brandeis to President Woodrow Wilson on February 4, 1920

“Marching on to Zion” Sheet Music by Samuel H. Borofsky and Henry A. Russotto

Photograph of Louis D. Brandeis and Jonas Friedenwald in Palestine

Scroll inscribed to Louis D. Brandeis from the Golden Book of the Jewish National Fund

Louis D. Brandeis’s Washington Zionist Circle Membership Card

Brandeis Centennial Dinner Plate

“The Jewish Problem: How to Solve it” by Louis D. Brandeis

Tribute to Louis D. Brandeis from Massachusetts

Photograph of the Launching of the SS Louis D. Brandeis

Photographs of Louis D. Brandeis's Office Display in the Brandeis University Library

News About Brandeis University printed in July, 1947

Photograph of Susan Brandeis receiving her Honorary Degree from Abram Sachar at Brandeis University

Invitation to the Inauguration of Brandeis University

Letters from Dean Acheson to Alice G. Brandeis in October, 1941

Telegram from The Orthodox Jewish Youth of America to Alice G. Brandeis on October 8, 1941

Letter from The American Civil Liberties Union to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

Letter from Antioch College to Alice G. Brandeis on October 11, 1941

Letter from the Baltimore Young Men Relief Association and Ladies’ Auxiliary and Extract from the Baltimore Sun on October 10, 1941

Radiogram from the Brandeis School Herzlia to Alice G. Brandeis on October 15, 1941

Letter from the Brookline-Brighton-Newton Zionist District to Alice G. Brandeis on October 20, 1941

“Louis D. Brandeis” by Lewis H. Weinstein

Letter from The U.S. Senate to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

Telegram from The Czechoslovak National Council of America to Alice G. Brandeis on October 6, 1941

Radiogram from the London Executive Jewish Agency to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

Letter from Agnes Fitzpatrick to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

Telegram from The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union to Alice G. Brandeis on October 6, 1941

Letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Alice G. Brandeis on October 6, 1941

Letter from Edward Rothchild to Alice G. Brandeis on October 7, 1941

List of Books by Members of the Brandeis Family

Brandeis University Law Journal,
January 2016 Special Volume

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Follow the 100th Anniversary Celebration

Mapping Louis D. Brandeis's Life

Brandeis University Alma Mater,
as performed by No Singer Clef Behind


To thee, Alma Mater,
We'll always be true.
All Hail to thy standard,
The white and the blue.
Proclaiming thy future,
Recalling thy past.
Our hopes spring from mem'ries
Eternally cast.
With sorrows we'll leave thee,
New worlds to create.
May deeds of thy children
Make thee forever great!

Help us transcribe LDB's letters!

Louis writes to Alice from Washington, D.C. as he waits to argue on behalf of the defendant in error in Muller v. Oregon (1908). Brandeis's brief for this U.S. Supreme Court case utilized sociological data in addition to legal argument.

We have transcribed the first part of the letter, which ends with Louis saying that the "Case may not be reached until tomorrow." Help us transcribe the second part! Email your transcript to transcription@brandeis.edu.