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Donald Black papers

Identifier: MSS 15031

Scope and Contents

This collection contains items from Donald Black’s life and career, spanning from the 1930s up until the 2010s, ranging from personal memorabilia from his high school years, to his research in graduate school, to drafts of his major published works, to his professional involvement in sociology and universities, all the way up to correspondence concerning his retirement from the University of Virginia in 2016. Some folders contain groupings of files that remain as-is from their arrangement by Black, while others contain files compounded into a more comprehensive grouping from different sources. Some items may be cross referenced under different series. For example, there is correspondence with Stanley Holowitz under both his personal file as well as under the topical files on correspondence with Academic Press.


  • Creation: 1935-2016


Conditions Governing Access

Access restrictions apply to specific personal records under the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (F.E.R.P.A.) for all materials in Box 37. These materials will remain closed until about 2077.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions, except for on the materials in Box 37. These materials cannot be used under the terms of the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (F.E.R.P.A), until 2077.

Biographical / Historical

Donald Black was a professor at the University of Virginia from 1985-2016. Born in 1941, he received his bachelor's degree from Indiana University in 1963, his master's degree from the University of Michigan in 1965, and his PhD in sociology from Michigan University in 1968. Before coming to the University of Virginia in 1985, he was at both Yale University as a post-doctoral Russell Sage Fellow from 1968-1970, and then taught at Harvard University in their Sociology Department and Law School. Black started at the University of Virginia as a Professor of Sociology from 1985-1988, at which point he attained a position as a University Professor, allowing him to teach in any department or school at the University. From 1986-1989 he also served as the Department Chair of Sociology.

He is the founder of ‘pure sociology’, and most of his work focuses on sociology of conflict, morality, and law. He has written numerous books, including "The Social Structure of Right and Wrong", "The Behavior of Law", and "Moral Time", and has received accolades for his books such as the Theory Prize, a Distinguished Book Award, and the Kalven Prize. In addition, he is on the editorial board for scholarly journals and edits his own series on "Studies on Law and Social Control" for Oxford Press. Black retired from the University of Virginia in 2016.


19 Cubic Feet (37 legal document boxes, 1 artifact box, 1 oversize folder and 22 audiocassettes)

Language of Materials



Series I is on academic writings from Black and other scholars. It is split between two Sub-Series: Sub-Series A is on works either solely by Black, or works collaborated on by Black and other scholars, and Sub-Series B contains work solely by other scholars. Series I runs from box 1-17. Series II contains files and papers from Black’s involvement in the professional and academic worlds of sociology and universities. Series II runs from box 17-21. Series III pertains to Donald Black’s personal life. Series III runs from box 21-25. Series IV contains correspondence with organizations and correspondence on certain topics. Series IV runs from box 25-36. Series V contains restricted items, and is the only series in box 37.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

There are 22 microcassettes in this collection. Appointments must be made in advance to use media formats such as LPs, audiotapes, videotapes, films, CDs, and DVDs held by Special Collections. In most cases, materials must be reformatted before they can be accessed, sometimes at the researcher's expense. Please use our online reference request form to ask for further information or to schedule access to audio-visual materials. Access cannot be guaranteed unless prior arrangements have been made.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Donald Black papers were given by Donald Black and Roberta Senechal to the University of Virginia Library in several installments and have all been interfiled as one collection. The dates of individual gifts include July 20, 2010 and December 28, 2010; April 27, 2011, May 4, 20, and 23, 2011, June 3, 10, and 14, 2011, July 8 and 15, 2011; October 7, 2011; November 8, 2012; April 22 and August 27, 2013; and June 1 and 6, 2016.

Separated Materials

Printed monographs and offprints in this collection have been catalogued and housed separately. Each catalogue record has the following local note: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS: Gift of Donald J. Black. From the Papers of Donald Black, MSS 15031.

Processing Information

The Donald Black papers were received in increments over a period of years and have all been interfiled.

Donald Black papers
In Progress
Gabrielle Patterson and Sharon Defibaugh
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States