Processing the Abram Chayes Papers

Project Summary

Submitted by Edwin Moloy of Law Library/Historical & Special Collections.

Abram Chayes (1922 – 2000) taught at the Law School for more than 40 years. His areas of expertise were international law and negotiation on which he was widely considered a leading authority. His course, International Legal Process, provided new insight in the teaching of international law, one that framed the subject in a more dynamic context consisting of law, economics and politics.

Professor Chayes also served as a legal advisor to the State department during the Kennedy administration. During this time he was involved in decision making at the highest levels of government and was part of a team contending with the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and negotiations with the Soviet Union that lead to the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963. After leaving government service he served as a foreign policy advisor to Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, Senator George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The collection has 183 linear feet of material and is currently closed to researchers with no access available. There is a partial, box level container list. No audio visual material is listed in the container list, but it is assumed this format is part of the collection. 

The papers would be processed to the folder level. Processing work is informed by the principles of More Product, Less Process in order to expedite processing. The collection will be tagged in EAD for posting to OASIS. Once done, the collection would be publicized through various outlets and may also be the focus of an exhibit. 

Amount requested is $50,000 – $65,000 (including benefits).

Expected Results with Partial Funding

For an example scenario, I will assume 50% funding of that requested. With this reduction I would estimate that approximately 40% of the collection would be considered processed (i.e. described and physically arranged).

Estimated Follow-on Activities and/or Costs

The Law Library will pay for storage at the Harvard Depository as well as any necessary conservation. Any preservation or reformatting of audiovisual material would also be paid for by the Library.

Benefit to Harvard Scholars and Patrons

Professor Chayes’ expertise on international law and negotiation is as relevant today as it was during his teaching career. The role that law and legal institutions play in contending with international conflict has been, is, and always will be a source of interest to researchers. The opening of this collection to the public will benefit researchers from a wide variety of fields, including: history, government, politics, and international affairs and, of course, law. Additionally, Chayes’ work in negotiation will complement the work of Roger Fisher (HLS faculty from 1958-1999 when was named a professor emeritus) who was also a highly regarded scholar on negotiation. Combined, these two collections will offer researchers a rich source of material to advance scholarship in this important field.

Ways the Project Supports Cross-Unit or Cross-Discipline Activities

I anticipate that the Chayes Papers will offer resources to people interested in the fields of: government (international relations, political science); history; the environment; and economics.

Resources the Sponsoring Library Can Support or Will Need Support For

The Law Library is able to provide the necessary supplies.

Other Approaches to Achieving Goal or Result

Processing is currently done by a combination of personnel including: myself (Curator of Modern Manuscripts), 1 - 2 interns per year, and, intermittently, internal staff. (The Library has a 20% program that permits employees to spend up to 20% of their time working in another unit of the Library.) We are also planning on applying for a grant that would enable us to hire full time, temporary staff to process collections in our backlog.

Risks If Proposal Is Not Approved

There are no real risks if the proposal is not approved. If approved, however, the collection would be made available to the public at least 2-3 years earlier than currently estimated.

Additional Information

I would be happy to answer any additional questions the screening group may have about the project.

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