The Court that Tamed the West

Learn about the history of the United States District Court, Northern District Court of California.

Upcoming Presentations

Join us as Ninth Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown explores the politics and ethics of advocacy by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, known as an ardent environmentalist.

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Two Supreme Court Justices; four former White House Counsel; a former Solicitor General; Pulitzer Prize- winning authors; a NYT Supreme Court Correspondent; and a host of local and national legal luminaries — these have been the guest speakers for the Northern District Court Historical Society.

Your membership includes a free copy of our book The Court that Tamed the West.

About the Historical Society

Since 1977, the Northern District Court Historical Society has been protecting and enlivening the rich judicial history of the court. From the Chinese Exclusion Laws to Patty Hearst to cutting-edge technology disputes, the Northern District has been in the thick of the some of the thorniest problems and most interesting events in California history.

More about the Historical Society…

Become a Member

Two Supreme Court Justices; four former White House Counsel; a former Solicitor General; Pulitzer Prize- winning authors; a NYT Supreme Court Correspondent; and a host of local and national legal luminaries—these have been the guest speakers for the Northern District Court Historical Society.

Your membership includes a free copy of our book The Court that Tamed the West.

Join Today!

Browse the Northern District Historical Society Bookstore...

Browse Our Online Bookstore

The Historical Society has written, published, and/or collaborated on a number of excellent books covering important topics in the history of Northern California and its federal district court. We are pleased to offer Historical Society books for sale through our online bookstore.

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Oral Histories

The Northern District Historical Society has been collecting the oral histories of judges to gain insight on their significant contributions. The project’s purpose is to create an archive of primary data so that future generations will be able to study how—and by whom—governing decisions were made. For more information, please see the Oral Histories page.

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Recent Presentations

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Courtroom Murals: Images of New Deal Era Art from Coit Tower

Spectacular images of Coit Tower’s famous murals now grace the courtrooms of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Hallway display cases feature miniature reproductions, along with the story behind each mural and a biography of the artist who created the original.

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U.S. v. City & County of San Francisco:
The Quest for Diversity in the San Francisco Fire Department

The San Francisco Fire Department hired no black firefighters before 1955, allowed no women to apply before 1976, and hired no women firefighters until late 1987. Today, the uniformed force includes approximately fifty percent minorities and fifteen percent women — and is led by a female Chief. What is the story behind this dramatic shift in the number of women and minorities in the SFFD?