Historical Society


The Historical Society of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was created as a non-profit organization designed to heighten public awareness of the Court's history and to inform the interested public of the Court's function, role and past contributions to American history. The Society was formally incorporated on April 12, 1984, in commemoration of the 194th anniversary of the Court's earliest recorded attorney admission ceremony held on April 12, 1790 in the State House of Philadelphia - now known as Independence Hall - where the Court originally sat.

One of the original 13 districts created by the Judiciary Act of 1789, the District of Pennsylvania was divided into two districts in 1815, designated Eastern and Western, and a Middle District was established in 1901. The present-day jurisdiction of the Eastern District extends to the history-rich counties of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery and Northampton, as well as Philadelphia.

The Contributions Of Our Members Are Many And Varied

Toward the goal of better acquainting the public with the Court's role in American history, several special committees of the Society have been formed to research Court documents and records; to publish articles and books and present educational exhibits on Court history to the public; and to acquire, preserve and maintain all artifacts of historical significance to the Court, including documents, records, photographs, portraits and other historical objects and memorabilia. The Society also publishes a newsletter, A Court's Heritage, distributed periodically to members in order to keep them better informed of Society projects and events.

Members of the Society have contributed greatly to the work of the Society's 22 special committees. The Society's Portrait Committee, chaired by Ann Thornton Field, has dedicated numerous portraits to the Court of notable judges. Currently under contract are John W. Lord, John B. Hannum, Jan E. DuBois and Thomas N. O'Neill, Jr. Additionally, members of the Society's Calendar Committee, chaired by the Honorable J. William Ditter, Jr., have produced and distributed the Society's annual calendars featuring thematic, fine pen-and-ink sketches of various places and events associated with Court history and noting daily calendar anniversaries of important Court decisions.

In December of 1987, the First Annual Alfred L. Luongo Lecture, created to honor the memory of Chief Judge Luongo who helped found the Court's Historical Society, was delivered by Professor A. Leo Levin of the University of Pennsylvania. Judge Luongo was instrumental in establishing the Society's many committees and in encouraging the Society's various research projects. The Alfred L. Luongo Lectureship has since been offered annually to distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions to American legal history and judicial adminstration, both areas of vital concern to Judge Luongo, especially as they relate to the Court.

Officers and Board of Directors
Letter from the President
Annual Meetings
Alfred L. Luongo Lectures
Oral Histories
Application for Membership