Skip to main content

James Lopez Watson Papers

Identifier: UP001736

Scope and Content

The collection fo Judge Watson, primarily deals with correspondence with other judges, committee members, judicial Council business, and the National Bar Association.

Subjects: African American judges African American judges - Biography African American lawyers African American lawyers - History Judicial Council National Bar Association

Correspondents: Judge George Crockett Jr. Judge Joseph Howard Judge James Watson Gilbert Ware

Contents: The collection consists mainly of judge correspondence, Judicial Council business, executive committee correspondence, clippings of important law related events and National Bar Association information.


  • 1960 - 1989
  • Majority of material found within 1970 - 1979


Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.


Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


James Lopez Watson comes from a distinguished family and his father's dedication to law is what inspired Judge Watson to follow in his footsteps, becoming first a lawyer and later a judge. Judge Watson first served in the 92nd Infantry Division during WWII where he received many awards for his outstanding service. His brush with death in Italy contributed to his calmness and detachment required for a jduge. It also allowed him to define his goals and values more clearly. Upon returning home, Watson completed college, receiving his bachelor of laws degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1951, after which he entered private practice. Three years later he was elected to the New York State Senate where he served until 1963, where he upon he was elected to New York City Civil Court. His friendship with Lyndon JOhnson led to his federal appointment ot the US Customs Court. During his service on the United STates Court of International Trade, Watson chaired the court's legislative committee, which helped develop many Acts, such as teh Custom Court Act and the Trade Agreements Act. He is also a founding member of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and lectured at many law schools. Watson holds the record for the number of assignments received by a federal judge to other courts, sitting more than seventy times as a visiting judge in district courts around the country.


2 Linear Feet (2 SB)


A former New York State Senator and New York City Civil Court Judge, Watson is best known as a judge with the United States Court of International Trade. The Papers of James Lopez Watson, however, primarily concern his affiliation with the National Bar Association, where he was a founding member of its judicial council. The collection also contains correspondences with a number of African-American judges, including judge George Crockett, Jr.


Folders are arranged alphabetically and chronologically.


The papers of James Lopez Watson were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in November 1999.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in December 2003.
Guide to the James Lopez Watson Papers
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA