Descriptive inventory for the Judge Julius J. Hoffman papers, 1930-1984

Julius J. Hoffman papers

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Descriptive inventory for the Judge Julius J. Hoffman papers, 1930-1984

Prepared by Lee C. Fosburgh, April 1994; revised by Christopher Tounsel 2005.
Please address questions to:
Chicago History Museum, Research Center
1601 North Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614-6038
Instructions for accessing this collection

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Julius J. Hoffman papers, 1930-1984 (inclusive)
Creator: Julius J. Hoffman
Dates: 1930-1984 (inclusive)
Accession number: M1983.0021
Bib number: 00066188
Call numbers: MSS Lot H
MSS Oversize H
MSS Alpha V: Hoffman
Size:15 linear feet (36 boxes)
4 Oversize Folders
Sound recordings. Originals
Language of material:Collection is written in English.

Provenance statement:

Gift of William E. Gardner (accession number #: M1983.0021).

Terms governing use:

No known copyright restrictions.


Advance appointment with special permission required to view a small portion of the collection.

For listening purposes, it is necessary to use a copy, not the original (and to have a listening copy made if one is not available).

Please cite this collection as:

Julius J. Hoffman papers (Chicago History Museum) plus a detailed description, date, and box/folder number of a specific item.

Additional Materials +/-

Related material:

Related materials at Chicago History Museum, Research Center, include the Judge Julius Hoffman papers addition (2005.0116) which is not described in this descriptive inventory, the Julius Hoffman photographs (2000.0151), the Judge Julius Hoffman photograph collection (1987.0626), and published excerpts from the Chicago 7 trial transcript and related documents.

Separated material:

Eight publications, including the 1947 and 1953 programs for the induction ceremony for judges of the United States District Court, were transferred to the library. A "We Support Judge Hoffman" button was transferred to Decorative & Industrial Arts.

Collection Summary +/-

The collection contains correspondence, newsclippings, legal records, speeches, and sound recordings by or about Julius J. Hoffman, a judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Most of the papers concern Judge Hoffman's handling of the Chicago Seven Conspiracy trial (1969-1970) and include letters from the public regarding him (mostly favorable) and 10 audio recordings of television news coverage about the events. Smaller amounts of material concern Judge Hoffman's involvement in other well-known trials, including Durovic-Krebiozen cancer cure case (1965); Kamsler case (1968, 1969); South Holland (Ill.) School District 151 case (1969); Tell City case (1962); United States v. Accardo (1962); United States v. Isaacs, Kerner (1971); Frank Walus immigration case (1978). Mementos of his professional career, 1944-1983, and correspondence with relatives also are in the collection.

Biographical/Historical Note +/-

Julius J. Hoffman, lawyer and jurist for 36 years, was born in Chicago on July 7, 1885. Hoffman was educated in the Chicago public schools and attended Lewis Institute in Lockport (Ill.) and law school at Northwestern University. He was admitted to the Bar of the State of Illinois in October 1915 and entered the general practice of law. In 1936, he became general counsel for the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company and also served as vice-president and director until 1944. He returned to general law practice in 1944. In November 1947, Hoffman was elected judge of the Superior Court of Cook County for a six-year term. President Eisenhower appointed Hoffman as judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on May 14, 1953.

Judge Hoffman served as a member of the faculty of Northwestern Law School. He also was a member of the Illinois State Housing Board, Northwestern University Associates, board of directors of Northwestern University Law School Alumni, the American Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and the American Judicature Society. He also served as associate editor of the American Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, vice-chairman of the Hospital Building Fund of the Jewish Federation of Chicago on behalf of Michael Reese and Mount Sinai Hospitals, and was an active participant in philanthropic and charitable affairs in Chicago from 1958-1983.

On February 3, 1972, Judge Hoffman retired from active service in the United States District Court and assumed senior status on the bench. He continued to hear cases until 1982, when the executive committee of the United States District Court ordered that no new cases be assigned to him.

Judge Hoffman achieved national fame when he presided over the Chicago Seven Conspiracy trial (U. S. v. David T. Dellinger, et al.), involving originally eight defendants (Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Rennie Davis, Tom Hayden, David Dellinger, Lee Weiner, John Froines, and Bobby Seale) who were accused of conspiring to incite riots in Chicago during the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The trial was known as the Chicago Seven Conspiracy case after Bobby Seale, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was removed from the case. After a week of court spectacle, which involved the binding and gagging of Seale, a mistrial was declared for Seale. Judge Hoffman sentenced Seale to four years in prison on sixteen counts of contempt. After five months of trial, the jury acquitted the seven defendants of the conspiracy charge, but found five of them guilty (all except Weiner and Froines) of crossing state lines to incite a riot.

In 1972, a Circuit Court decision overturned the convictions and declared the "the demeanor of the judge and the prosecutors would require reversal even if errors did not." A new trial on the 200 contempt citations Judge Hoffman had entered against the defendants and their lawyers was tried by the United States District Judge Edward L. Gignoax. All but 13 of the citations were dismissed, and no jail sentences were imposed.

Judge Hoffman presided over several other trials which drew nationwide attention, among them the Durovic-Krebiozen cancer cure case (1965), one of the longest cases to be tried in any United States District Court. Judge Hoffman also presided over the Tell City case (1962), United States v. Tony Accardo (1962), United States v. Isaacs and Kerner (1971), the 1978 Frank Walus immigration case, and the Kamsler case (1968, 1969): the historic 1969 school desegregation decision for the South Holland (Ill.) School District 151. Judge Hoffman was known for his numerous articles in various law journals, and speeches before many important national organizations and bar associations.

Judge Hoffman married Eleanor H. Greenebaum on September 20, 1928. They had no children together, but Mrs. Hoffman had two sons, William and Ernest, from a previous marriage. Eleanor Hoffman died in 1980. Judge Hoffman died on July 1, 1983 at the age of 98.

Catalog Subject Headings +/-

Actions and defenses--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Chicago Eight Trial, Chicago, Ill., 1969-1970
Chicago Seven Trial, Chicago, Ill., 1969-1970
Contempt of court--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Freedom of speech--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Jews--Illinois--Chicago--Societies, etc.--20th century
Judges--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Judgments, Criminal--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Radicalism--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Television broadcasting of news--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Trials (Conspiracy)--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Hoffman, Julius J., 1895-1983--Archives
Seale, Bobby, 1936-
United States. District Court (Illinois : Northern District : Eastern Division)
United States. District Court (Illinois : Northern District)
Audio Tapes
Legal Documents
Chicago (Ill.)--Politics and government--20th century

Organization and Arrangement of Collection +/-

The collection is arranged three series. The first and second series have three and four subseries, respectively.

Click on heading to view series description.

Series 1. Judicial career papers, 1961-1974 (box 1-26)
Subseries 1. Chicago Seven Conspiracy trial, 1969-1970 (boxes 1-23, OS folders 1-3)
Subseries 2. Other trials, 1961-1978 (box 24, OS folder 4)
Subseries 3. Case journals, 1964-1979 (boxes 25-26)
Series 2. Personal papers, 1930-1984 (boxes 27-36)
Subseries 1. Biographical data, 1950-1983 (box 27)
Subseries 2. Correspondence, 1930-1984 (boxes 28-29, 36)
Subseries 3. Speeches, 1942-1982 (boxes 30-35)
Subseries 4. Newsclippings, 1970-1982 (box 35)
Series 3: Sound recordings of TV news coverage, 1970

About This Finding Aid +/-

Creation: Finding aid encoded by Toby I. Garbutt using Oxygen XML Editor, 2016
Language: Finding aid is written in English.
Other Finding Aids: Finding aid also submitted to the Explore Chicago Collections portal.
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