Collection Summary

Creator: Farmer, Frances
Title: The Papers of Frances Farmer
Accession: MSS 93-1
Description: 6 boxes; 3 linear feet
Location: SC - Basement
Photograph Collection: View 317 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 318 objects

Collection Description & Arrangement

The papers of Frances Farmer have received minimal organization to make them readily accessible. Her files labeled "personal correspondence" are arranged chronologically (1931-1992), and concern both personal and professional matters. Other files that were organized by subject remain as they were. These documents are primarily administrative regarding the Law Library. There are also copies of her speeches, memorabilia, numerous copies of newspaper clippings, awards, and resolutions. Finally, there is an extensive collection of photographs of Farmer, her family, and members of the Law School community.

Biographical & Historical Information

Frances Farmer was born in Keysville, Virginia on December 9th, 1909, but she spent most of her younger years in Richmond, where she moved with her family in 1915. She attended John Marshall High School (1923-1927), and then studied at Westhampton College, where she majored in history and had considerable success in the debating society. After her junior year of college she enrolled at T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and received her LL.B. in 1933. The only female in her law class, she graduated with honors and was awarded the O.H. Berry Medal, given to the "best all-around graduate in law." She passed the State Bar Examination in December of the same year.

In October of 1931, Frances Farmer began to work for Dr. Ray Doubles, Dean of the University of Richmond Law School as part-time secretary, a position she kept after her graduation. Despite her outstanding academic record, she learned that good positions for female lawyers were extremely difficult to find at that time.

Meanwhile she became very active in Richmond community affairs. She held a number of offices in the Richmond Branch of University Women (AAUW) (1934-36) and was secretary of the Virginia Consumers' League (1935), the Virginia Social Science Association (1935), and the Virginia Women's Council of Legislative Chairmen of States Organizations (1936). She was also member of the Board of Directors of the Richmond League of Women Voters and the local Y.M.C.A.

Farmer's experience as law librarian began when she entered law school and became the assistant law librarian, in addition to secretary to the dean. In 1934, in the absence of the law librarian, she undertook all the administrative work of the library, including accessioning, selecting and purchasing books, keeping financial records, etc. After completing a course in law library administration at the School of Library Service at Columbia University, she was appointed Law Librarian at the University of Richmond in 1938. In that year she joined the American Association of Law Libraries and became a member of the Committee on the Library Journal (1938).

In July 1942, Farmer accepted the position of senior cataloguer and executive secretary at the University of Virginia Law Library with an annual salary of $2400.00. At that time the library had fewer than 40,000 books, all of them uncataloged, and she was hired to carry out the cataloguing project and to begin a purchase program. In 1943 she began teaching legal bibliography and the following year was appointed Law Librarian. Under her leadership the library grew to 100,000 cataloged volumes by the early 1950s.

Because state funding was never adequate for the growth of a major law library, at the outset Farmer sought the support of the Law School Alumni Association which she found willing to match or exceed state money. Thus began a life long partnership which helped to make the Law Library one of the top ten in the nation. In return Farmer gave unstintingly to the Alumni Association, masterminding and for many years overseeing the annual spring alumni weekend and serving sixteen years as secretary/treasurer of the Association.

Farmer eventually gained faculty status at the Law School, making her its first female law professor. She was also active in professional organizations. She had lifetime membership in the American Association of Law Libraries which she served as president in 1959-60. In addition, she was a member of the Virginia State Bar and the State Bar Association, was active in University of Richmond alumni groups, and held membership in Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif. She was a consultant to many U.S. law libraries and to the government law library in Nigeria. In February-March of 1975 she was one of the three American law librarians who served as faculty members of the First Conference of Law Librarians in Nigeria, at the Nigerian Law School on Victoria Island, in Lagos. She was active in promoting interest in microforms for law libraries and was appointed by the Attorney General of Virginia in 1976 to explore computerized legal research for Virginia lawyers and public officials.

She retired in August of 1976, and became library consultant to the Center of Oceans Law and Policy at the Law School. The same year she was designated Professor Emerita by the Board of Visitors of the University, and her alma mater awarded her an honorary degree in recognition of her outstanding achievements in law librarianship.
Farmer co-wrote with Ray Doubles a Manual of Legal Bibliography (The Michie Company, 1947) and edited The Wilson Reader (Oceana Publications, 1956). In retirement she compiled an oral history of the second century of the Law School.

A Law School Alumni Association resolution recognizing Frances Farmer's contributions at the 30-year mark stated, "As a result of her creative mind, an inexhaustible supply of energy, resourcefulness and ability, and her indomitable spirit, the Law Library at the University of Virginia has grown and prospered."

Frances Farmer died in Charlottesville on September 13, 1993.

Acquisition Information

Date Received 1993
Donor Information This collection of memorabilia and dozens of photographs was transmitted to the Law Library upon Frances Farmer's death in September of 1993.  

Content List

Boxes 1-2:

  • 1931-1992. Frances Farmer Personal Correspondence. [10 folders]

Box 2:

  • 1940. Notes of condolence upon the death of F.F.'s parents.

Box 3:

  • 1953-1974. Awards.
  • 1909-1976. F.F. Biographical Information.
  • 1965-1966. Law Library Catalogue Project.
  • 1977-1983. Center for Oceans Law and Policy. Correspondence.
  • 1959-1976. Conferences, articles. Miscellaneous papers.
  • 1907-1958. Family Correspondence.
  • 1975. Information Handling Services (IHS). Special file.
  • 1975-1978. Law School Alumni Association.
  • 1975-1976. Law Library Report.
  • 1974-1976. Lexis. Legal Computerization Services.
  • 1967-1969. LSAA Library Committee Correspondence.

Box 4:

  • Memberships, professional associations, committees.
  • Miscellaneous programs and other memorabilia.
  • 1968-1969. The Morris Project. Cataloguing Department.
  • 1929-1976. Newspaper clippings (and photocopies.
  • 1975. Nigeria Trip.
  • 1975-1976. Phi Beta Kappa. Bicentennial Committee. Beta Chapter.
  • [ca. 1930s]. Poems and other writings from Scrapbook Resolutions.
  • 1976. Retirement.
  • 1935-1936. Richmond A.A.U.W. Scrapbook. Newspaper clippings (and photocopies).
  • [1930s?]. Speeches and other writings.
  • 1982. F.F.'s Will.
  • 1956. The Woodrow Wilson Reader.
  • Miscellaneous printed material.

Miscellaneous Objects

Box 5:

  • 7 framed portraits of F.F. and her parents.
  • 1 framed note from Hardy C.Dillard.
  • 1 gold medallion for Best Graduate in T.C. Williams School of Law.

Box 6:

  • 1 framed portrait of Florence Farmer.
  • Various address books.
  • One rubber stamp.
  • F.F.'s academic hood.

Box 7

  • 1982; Broun, Fontaine.  Resolution upon his death.
  • 1981-1986; Oral History of the Law School.  Correspondence with alumni and faculty. 
  • 1983; Robert, Alexander Stuart Jr. Resolution upon his death.

Box 8

  • 1969-1975; Frances Farmer Outgoing Correspondence with Arthur J. Morris re Law Library.  [Folder found with Alumni Memorabilia in 2013 and transferred to the Frances Farmer Papers].
  • 1959, Sep. 2; Telegram from Miles O. Price, Law Librarian at Columbia to Frances Farmer. [Transferred from RG 400 – Faculty vertical files to the Frances Farmer Papers in July of 2013].
  • n.d., 1954, 1956, 1959, 1964, 1971; Memorabilia.  Includes Annual Banquet Richmond Brand American Association of University Women Program; Annual Dinner of Phi Beta Kappa and Epsilon Chapter of Virginia Program; 3 notes from Prof. Leslie H. Buckler and his wife Elize; printed thank you note from Robert and Ethel Kennedy (1964); University of Virginia Honoring Arthur J. Morris ’01 Dinner Program; newspaper clippings. [Transferred from RG 400 – Faculty vertical files to the Frances Farmer Papers in July of 2013].


  • n.d. A.A.L.L. groups [4 photos]
  • 1958 Battle, John Governor with Senator Kennedy and John Parker. First Law Day.
  • 1953-1954 Carlyle, Irving E., President of Law School Association.
  • 1964 Class of '24. Law Day.
  • 1963 Class of '28. Law Day.
  • 1964 Class of '29. Law Day.
  • 1963? Class of '30. Law Day.
  • 1965 Class of '30. Law Day.
  • 1965 Class of '50. Law Day
  • n.d. Class of '48 and '49 at picnic.
  • ca. 1900 Farmer, Florence Womack.
  • ca. 1910-1913 F.F. as a little girl.
  • 1969 F.F. and Arthur Morris.
  • ca. 1974 F.F. and Bernard Chamberlain at Law Day Committee Meeting.
  • ca. 1930 F.F. and Larry Pheers[?] at Old Fort Comfort, Va.
  • ca. 1942 F.F. and Peggy Van Cise. First years in Charlottesville.
  • 1956 F.F. and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson.
  • ca. 1930s F.F. and unidentified college friends.
  • ca. 1938-1939 F.F. and unidentified friends at Jack Dempsey's Broadway Bar. New York City.
  • 1938-1939 F.F. at Columbia Library School with unidentified friends.
  • ca. 1970s F.F. at her desk.
  • ca. 1970 F.F. at home.
  • 1959-1960 F.F. at a hotel in Minneapolis, when she was President of the AALL.
  • ca. 1970s F.F. birthday party and Christmas tree.
  • 1976 F.F. Christmas with unidentified friends.
  • ca. 1942-1943 F.F. First year in Charlottesville.
  • ca. 1942-1944 F.F. in her office at UVA.
  • 1931 F.F. graduation portrait. Westhampton College, Richmond Va.
  • ca. 1942 F.F. in AALL meeting in Michigan.
  • ca. 1970 F.F. in her house.
  • n.d. F.F.'s house and garden.
  • ca.1980-1990s F.F. in her last years.
  • ca. 1890-1900 F.F.'s paternal grandfather?
  • ca. 1970 F.F. photo proofs.
  • ca. 1976 F.F. portrait at the Law School.
  • 1930s-1970s F.F. various portraits.
  • 1974 F.F. Presentation of Charles T. Norman Award for Best All-around law graduate of 1933 from the University of Richmond School of Law.
  • 1933 F.F. at class reunion at Westhampton College.
  • ca. 1953 F.F. speaking [at AALL dinner?]
  • 1940s F.F. taking art class in Charlottesville.
  • 1940s F.F. with unidentified family and friends.
  • 1976 F.F. with Barbara Murphy and Janet Camillo at new Lexis terminal.
  • 1975 F.F. with Dr. Taslim O. Elias. Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. February-March.
  • 1960s F.F. with Hardy C. Dillard and Dean Ribble.
  • 1953 F.F. with Justice Stanley F. Reed. Presentation of Law Library's 100,000th volume.
  • 1977 F.F. with Senator John Warner and Elizabeth Taylor.
  • 1976 F.F. with Waller Barrett (member of the Board of Visitors), Frank L. Hereford, (President of UVA), B.F.D. Runk, William L. Duren and Lewis Hammond Named Professor Emeritus. April.
  • ca. 1942 F.F. with some Law Library staff.
  • 1952 F.F. with unidentified students.
  • ca. 1950s F.F. with unidentified students.
  • ca. 1911 Farmer, Horatio Weldon, Florence Womack and Frances.
  • ca. 1900 Farmer, Horatio W. [F.F.'s father].
  • ca. 1900 Farmer, Horatio W. and Florence Womack.
  • [1947] Glenn, Garrard. Dinner Dedication of his portrait.
  • 1637 Grotius (Huig De Groot) signed D. Mytens. Photograph of famous portrait.
  • ca. 1972-1973 Howard, Dick with Charles S. Robb (President of the Student Legal Forum) and Spiro T. Agnew.
  • 1984-1986 Innamorati, Ginna and Mathew. Christmas cards. F.F.'s relatives.
  • 1958 March Kennedy, Edward, Jacqueline, John and Robert. First Law Day.
  • 1977 Kuhn, Bowie, Commissioner of Baseball.
  • ca. 1943-1944 [Lanning, H. Victor, Lt.?].
  • 1963, ca. 1977 Law Alumni Council. [2 folders]
  • ca. 1960-69 Law Day. [7 folders]
  • 1977 Law Day Auction Negatives.
  • 1974 Law Library Dedication.
  • late 1960s Law School Event.
  • 1946, -47, -61, -68 Law School Faculty. [4 photos]
  • ca. 1949-1951 Law School Faculty and Students.
  • 1950s; 1965 Libel Show. [3 photos]
  • 1963-66 Moot Court.[4 photos]
  • 1969-70 Morris, Arthur J. [2 photos]
  • ca. 1970 Morris, Arthur and members of his family with Frances Farmer.
  • 1971 Morris, Arthur. Banquet in his honor at The Rotunda. December 4th.
  • ca. 1970s Parker, John C.
  • 1969 Paulsen, Monrad, Dean. Presentation of Law Library's 200,000th volume.
  • 1942 Pope, W.W. Capt. and Phil. Wedding. Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • n.d. Price, Mr. and Mrs. Miles O.
  • 1963 Ribble, Mr. and Mrs. Presentation of the Frederick Deane Goodwin Ribble Bowl.
  • 1963 Ribble, F.D.G. retirement ceremony.
  • 1963 Ribble, F.D.G. Seven Society Award.
  • 1953 Student-faculty tea. Law Library catalogue room.
  • n.d. Supreme Court of the United States.
  • ca. 1958 Virginia Law Review. Student staff.
  • ca. 1958 Virginia Law Weekly. Student Staff.
  • n.d. Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
  • 1971 Wheeler-Bennett, Sir John and Lady Ruth. Banquet to honor Arthur J. Morris at the Rotunda.
  • ca. 1906 Womack, Family. Florence, Carter hiding his foot behind Florence's skirt, and unidentified people.
  • ca. 1900s Womack, Florence, Linda (girl sitting) and "Papa" with [mother?] and unidentified person.
  • ca. 1900 Womack, Florence and friends.
  • 1907 Womack, Mary, Papa, [Carter], Linda, Janie and Florence. F.F. maternal relatives. Keysville, Va.
  • n.d.; Morris, Arthur J. with an unidentified woman.

Photographs Duplicating Those Already Owned by Library

  • ca. 1950 Dillard, Ribble and Ritchie.
  • 1947 Glenn, Garrard. Dinner. Presentation of his portrait.
  • ca. 1950-60 Law School Alumni Association Meeting at Farmington Country Club. [4 photographs].
  • n.d. Law School. Clark Memorial Hall. Library. [3 photographs].
  • 1952 Law School Faculty. [2 photos].
  • 1964 Law School Faculty. [9 photos].
  • 1977-1978 Law School Faculty.

Oversize Items

  • 1929-1939 Miscellaneous newspapers clippings.
  • 1959 Virginia State Certificate of Appreciation.
  • 1916 High Tide. Songs of Joy and Vision from the Present-Day Poets of America and Great Britain.
  • n.d. Farmer, Ellery: Descendents of Thomas Farmer who came to Virginia in 1616.

Oversize Items

  • 1962 The Holy Bible.
  • 1963 Directory of Alumni of the Law School.
  • 1956 Farmer, Frances: The Wilson Reader.
  • 1929-1933, 1951 The Web.
  • 1927 The Marshallite.
  • Boxes with FF's home furniture lists, and addresses.
  • Framed photograph of Frances Farmer.
  • Framed photograph of Bernard Chamberlain.
  • 1983 Frances Farmer Raven Award

Diplomas, Awards, etc.

  • 1931 Westhampton College, Bachelor of Arts
  • 1933 T.C. Williams School of Law, Bachelor of Law
  • 1933 Virginia Board of Law Examiners, License as an Attorney and Counselor at Law
  • 1956 Phi Beta Kappa
  • 1968 Order of the Coif
  • 1966 University Extension, University of California
  • 1971 Resolution of Appreciation from Alumni Association
  • 1974 Resolution, "Unsinkable Fanny Farmer"
  • 1976 Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Richmond.


Associated People

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