Milton R. Konvitz American Ideals Lectures Audio-Visual Materials

Collection Number: /4039 AV

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library


Milton R. Konvitz American Ideals Lectures Audio-Visual Materials, 1973- 1974
Collection Number:
/4039 AV
Konvitz, Milton R.
10.6 linear ft.
Forms of Material:
Audiocassettes, compact discs, sound recordings, audiovisual materials.
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Collection of Milton Konvitz's lectures from January, February, March and April of 1973.
Collection material in English


March 12, 1908-September 5, 2003 Milton Konvitz, a Cornell University faculty member and authority on constitutional and labor law, and civil and human rights, died Sept. 5 at the age of 95. Konvitz was a founding faculty member in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations from 1946 until his retirement in 1973. He was also a professor in Cornell's Law School. Konvitz is perhaps best known for his American Ideals course, which he taught to more than 8,000 students over the course of his career, never giving the same lecture twice. "I saw the U.S. Constitution as it has been interpreted as a magnificent depository of our ideals, both individual and social," he said. His course exposed students to the great intellectual thinkers and philosophers throughout history whose writings had shaped those ideals. They included Sophocles, whose play Antigone is Cornell's New Student Reading Project this year. One student he influenced was U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Cornell Class of 1954, who considers him a mentor. At Cornell Konvitz also was a founder of the university's Department of Near Eastern Studies and Program of Jewish Studies. "I felt it was essential for a college interested in the humanities not to leave out Hebrew language and literature," he said. "And the knowledge of Jewish history, which began 4,000 years ago and has contributed to civilization no less than Greek, Roman or English history, is important to today's students-Jewish and non-Jewish." He often hosted students at his Ithaca home and helped start the first Kosher dining option at Cornell, Young Israel House. In addition, for nearly 30 years he directed the Liberian Codification Project, which drew up the official body of statutory laws that is still in force in the Republic of Liberia today, despite the current political upheaval there. Konvitz also edited the opinions of Liberia's Supreme Court and received the Grand Band of the Order of the Star of Africa, the highest award given to foreigners, as well as an honorary degree from the University of Liberia, one of seven honorary degrees he received in his lifetime. Active as a scholar and writer until his death, he wrote books and articles on American constitutional law that won him wide recognition and were cited in U.S. Supreme Court opinions. Among his nine books is Fundamental Liberties of a Free People: Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, which was republished earlier this year with an expanded introduction by him that is strongly critical of the Rehnquist Supreme Court. Other books include A Century of Civil Rights (1983) and Judaism and Human Rights (2nd ed. 2001). He also edited a dozen volumes, including two on American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose thinking shaped his views. One Emersonian idea he absorbed was that readers give life to books, which Konvitz recast as follows: "It is in their hearing that students bring life to the words, the thoughts, the teacher." Konvitz was born in Safed, Palestine (now Israel ), in 1908, the son of a rabbi. He immigrated to the United States in 1915 and became a naturalized citizen in 1926. He received a bachelor's degree in 1929 and a law degree in 1930, both from New York University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell in 1933. Before joining Cornell's faculty, he was one of three assistant general counsels to Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for three years. He is survived by his wife, Mary, of Oakhurst, N.J.; a brother, Phillip, of Elberon, N.J.; a son and daughter-in- law, Josef and Isa, of Paris, France; and two grandsons, Eli and Ezra. Josef Konvitz, who grew up in Ithaca, is now an official at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.


Collection of Milton Konvitz's lectures from January, February, March and April of 1973.

Konvitz, Milton R.(Milton Ridvas), 1908-2003.

Geographic Subjects:
United States--Social conditions.
United States--Politics and government.

Form and Genre Terms:
Compact discs
Sound recordings
Audiovisual materials


Access Restrictions:
Access to the collections in the Kheel Center is restricted. Please contact a reference archivist for access to these materials.
Restrictions on Use:
This collection must be used in keeping with the Kheel Center Information Sheet and Procedures for Document Use.
Cite As:
Milton R. Konvitz American Ideals Lectures Audio-Visual Materials #/4039 AV. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.


Related Collections:
/3033: Milton R. Konvitz Liberian Project Files
/4039: Milton R. Konvitz Papers
/4039 a: Milton R. Konvitz Papers Guide (Volume 1). Laser Copy
/4039 B: Milton R. Konvitz Additional Papers
/4039 L: Milton R. Konvitz Liberian Codification Project
/4085: Milton R. Konvitz Additional Papers
/4220m: Milton Konvitz Additional Papers
/4289 AV: ILR School Alumni Affairs and Development Audio-Visual Materials
/4297: ILR School Biography Files
6047: Archives Information File


Box 1 1973
Box 2 1973
Box 3 1973
Box 4 1973
Box 5 1973
Box 6 1973
Box 7 1973
Box 8 1973
Box 9 1973
Box 10 1973
Box 11 1973
Box 12 1973
Box 13 1973
Box 14 1973
Box 15 1973
Box 16 1973
Box 17 1973
Box 18 1973
Box 19 1973
Box 20 1973
Box 21 1973
Box 22 1973
Box 23 1973
Box 24 1973
Box 25 1973
Box 26 1973
Box 27 1973
Box 28 1973
Box 29 1973
Box 30 1973
Box 31 1973
Box 32 1973
Box 33 1973
Box 34 1973
Box 35 1973
Box 36 2001
Box 37
Box 38 1973
Box 39 1973
Box 40 1973
Box 41 1973
Box 42 1973
Box 43 1973
Box 44 1973
Box 45 1973
Box 46 1973
Box 47 1973
Box 48 1973
Box 49 1973
Box 50 1973
Box 51 1973
Box 52 1973
Box 53 1973
Box 54 1973
Box 55 1973
Box 56 1973
Box 57 1973
Box 58 1973
Box 59 1973
Box 60 1973
Box 61 1973
Box 62 1973
Box 63 1973
Box 64 1973
Box 65 1973
Box 66 1973
Box 67 1973
Box 68 1973
Box 69 1973
Box 70 1973
Box 71 1973
Box 72 1973
Box 73
Box 74
Box 75
Box 76
Box 77
Box 78 1981
Box 79 1973-1974
63 - 1973 cassettes ; 99-1974 cassettes and 4 unlabeled - housed in Annex