The Society established an oral history program in 2005 to document the reminiscences of retired Judges of the New York State Court of Appeals (New York's highest court), retired judges and justices from other courts in the State, and prominent New York lawyers. Starting in 2009, all interviews were videotaped. Interviews prior to that time were almost all either audio or video taped. Interviews were conducted by a person or persons selected by the subject who was familiar with both the person interviewed and New York jurisprudence. In many instances, the interviewers were former clerks of the judges.

This archive covers almost a century of New York State's legal history. Subjects were invited to not only reflect on their contributions to the law and legal process, but also on their childhoods, backgrounds, and the historic events which shaped them as people and legal luminaries. The result of this broad outlook is a project that has captured a unique look at the history of the workings of the Rule of Law in both New York and the nation.

The Society prepares a transcript of the recording of each interview for its archives. The transcripts of the record are reviewed by subjects and interviewers for clarity and accuracy, and corrected. The transcripts are then further reviewed by the Court of Appeals and the NYS Law Reporting Bureau (LRB). Edits of the Court and the LRB are noted in the transcripts. The final version of the transcripts are then deposited in the Society’s archives.

An oral history transcript is not intended to present the complete, verified description of events. It is rather a spoken personal account by a Subject given in response to questions. It is intended to transmit the Subject’s thoughts, perceptions, and reflections. It is unique and irreplaceable.

All uses of these transcripts are covered by signed agreements between subjects, interviewers, and the Society. The information is thereby made available for purposes deemed suitable by the Society, including research and education. All copyrights and literary rights in the transcripts, including the right to publish, are reserved to the Society. No part of any transcript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Society.

The Society plans to make most transcripts available to the public on this website. The Society has no immediate plans to make the video recordings from which the transcripts are developed available to the public.

On April 4 and September 5, 2003 an oral history interview with NYS Court of Appeals Judge Richard D. Simons was conducted for the Society by David E. McCraw, Counsel, The New York Times Company. Mr. McCraw served as a clerk to Judge Simons from 1992 to 1994, The interview was published in our journal, New York Legal History, Vol. 1, 2005:

Oral History: Richard D. Simons

PDF link

To date the Society has collected the oral histories of the following individuals:


Oral History: Hon. Joseph W. Bellacosa
Hon. Joseph W. Bellacosa

Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals (1987-2000)

[Interviewed: 08/05/2009]

Oral History: Hon. Lawrence H. Cooke
Hon. Lawrence H. Cooke

Chief Judge of the State of New York (1979-1984)

[Interviewed: 08/30/1990]

Oral History: Hon. Stewart F. Hancock, Jr.
Hon. Stewart F. Hancock, Jr.

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1986-1993)

[Interviewed: 06/18/2011]

Oral History: Hon. Matthew J. Jasen
Hon. Matthew J. Jasen

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1968-1985)

[Interviewed: 04/15/2005]

Oral History: Hon. Judith S. Kaye
Hon. Judith S. Kaye

Chief Judge of the State of New York (1993-2008)

[Interviewed: 09/26/2011, 09/28/2011, 10/19/2011, & 10/20/2011]

Oral History: Hon. Howard A. Levine
Hon. Howard A. Levine

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1993-2002)

[Interviewed: 05/10/2012]

Oral History: Hon. Bernard S. Meyer
Hon. Bernard S. Meyer

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1979-1984)

[Interviewed: Between 2000-2002]

Oral History: Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt
Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1999-2006)

[Interviewed: 12/21/2009]

Oral History: Hon. Richard D. Simons
Hon. Richard D. Simons

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1983-1997) & Acting Chief Judge (1992-1993)

[Interviewed: 04/04/2003 & 09/05/2003]

Oral History: Hon. George Bundy Smith
Hon. George Bundy Smith

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1992-2006)

[Interviewed: 08/19/2009]

Oral History: Hon. Sol Wachtler
Hon. Sol Wachtler

Chief Judge of the State of New York (1985-1992)

[Interviewed: 12/21/2011]

Oral History: Hon. Richard C. Wesley
Hon. Richard C. Wesley

Associate Judge, New York Court of Appeals (1997-2003) / Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (2003-Present)

[Interviewed: 05/17/2012]


Oral History: Hon. Richard J. Bartlett
Hon. Richard J. Bartlett

Chief Administrative Judge of New York (1974-1979)

[Interviewed: 2/25/2005, 5/13/2005, 9/02/2005, & 2/08/2007]

Oral History: Hon. Milton Mollen
Hon. Milton Mollen

Presiding Justice, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 2nd Department (1978-1990)

[Interviewed: 07/21/2009]

Oral History: Hon. William C. Thompson
Hon. William C. Thompson

Associate Justice, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 2nd Department (1980-2001)

[Interviewed: 05/15/2009]


Oral History: Robert B. Fiske, Jr., Esq.
Robert B. Fiske, Jr., Esq.


[Interviewed: 12/01/2015]

Oral History: S. Hazard Gillespie, Esq.
S. Hazard Gillespie, Esq.


[Interviewed: 05/26/2009]

Oral History: Hon. Norman Goodman
Hon. Norman Goodman

New York County Clerk (1969-2014)

[Interviewed: 09/30/2009]

Oral History: Michael F. McEneney, Esq.
Michael F. McEneney, Esq.

Director of Court Operational Services, New York Office of Court Administration

[Interviewed: 05/18/2010]

Oral History: Michael F. McEneney, Esq.
Roy Reardon, Esq.


[Interviewed: 03/10/2016]

Oral History: Charlotte Smallwood-Cook, Esq.
Charlotte Smallwood-Cook, Esq.

District Attorney, Wyoming County, New York (1950-1953)

[Interviewed: 07/13/2011]


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