Collection Summary

Creator: Lile, William Minor
Title: The Diaries of William Minor Lile,1882 - 1898; 1913 - 1932
Accession: MSS 89-1
Description: 11 bound, handwritten journals.
Location: SC - Basement
Photograph Collection: View 4 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 4 objects

Collection Description & Arrangement

This collection of eleven bound, handwritten journals date from 1882 to 1932. Lile began keeping a journal when he was struggling to establish himself in law practice in Lynchburg and to woo the Methodist minister's young daughter, Maud Carson. He wrote regularly until he began teaching law at the University. At that point he stopped for about twenty-five years and resumed near the end of World War I. For the most part the journals are focused more intently on Lile's personal and family life than on law practice or teaching. The later volumes, however, provide invaluable vignettes on the Law School and University life in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Biographical & Historical Information

William Minor Lile, who was born in Alabama in 1859, earned his LL.B. from the University of Virginia in 1882 and practiced law in Lynchburg before joining the law faculty in 1893. Lile's uncle, John Barbee Minor, had served as unofficial head of the Law School since 1845, and when Minor died in 1895, Lile assumed the role. He was not an advocate of the case method, the late-nineteenth-century innovation in legal education, but his lecture-and-textbook method of teaching was nonetheless effective, and his students loved him. After the University appointed its first president, Edwin A. Alderman, in 1904, Lile became the first dean of the Law School.

During Lile's term the Law School underwent greater changes than at any other period. Thanks to his persistent leadership, the required length of the law course was extended to two and eventually three years, and the admission requirement increased from a high school diploma to two years of college. Because Virginia did not adopt these higher standards as rapidly as other law schools, this school was not a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools, but Virginia did gain membership in 1915. The year Lile joined the faculty there were 139 law students, and by his retirement there were 257. In 1920 the first women students were admitted to the Law School, and in 1923 Elizabeth Tompkins became the first woman to earn and LL.B. Lile oversaw the construction of Minor Hall, the Law School's first building which opened in 1911, as well as Clark Hall which opened in 1932. During his deanship the faculty grew from three to five as the curriculum greatly expanded. As soon as Clark Hall opened, Lile, age 73, retired. He died in 1935.

Acquisition Information

Date Received 1989
Donor Information The collection was given to the library in February of 1989 by Lile's first grandchild, Maud Tucker Drane, and her husband Walter Harding Drane, who completely transcribed the journals.

Content List

Box: 1

  • Journal 1. 1882,  Entries sandwiched between equity notes from law school and poetry and miscellaneous notes
  • Journal 2. 1883, November 1- - 1884, June 27
  • Journal 3. 1885, May 1 -- December 24
  • Journal 4. 1886, January 16 -- June 2
  • Journal 5. 1886 August 22 -- 1887 July 8

Box: 2

  • Journal 6. 1887 July 13 -- 1889 July 13
  • Journal 7. 1889 August 3 -- 1898 January 1; 1913 January 25 -- 1922 September 13
  • Journal 8. 1922 October 1 -- 1926 April 21
  • Journal 9. 1926 May 10 -- 1929 January 25

Box: 3

  • Journal 10. 1929, January 30 -- 1930, November 10
  • Journal 11. 1930 November 20 -- 1932 January 25
  • Transcripts of the Lile journals made by Maud Tucker Drane, granddaughter of WML, and her husband, Walter Harding Drane 1987.  2 bound volumes Alternative form available as a 5 1/4'' computer disk containing the transcripts.
  • Xerox copy, Memories of a Happy Life at the Dear Old U.Va, by Eleanor Lile Tucker, daughter of WML 1968

Associated People

Use Policy

Access There are no restrictions.
Use Restrictions There are no restrictions.
Preferred Citation

The Diaries of William Minor Lile, MSS 89-1, Box Number, Special Collections, University of Virginia Law Library

Unless otherwise stated, digital materials in our collections are available for use under a Creative Commons BY 4.0 License (CC-BY-4.0). For Use and Citation guidelines, see Special Collections Use Policy.