Collection Description & Arrangement
The 1978 accession of Deans' Papers spans the years 1912-1977, although the concentration of material covers 1937-1975, and touches the terms of Deans Lile, Dobie, Ribble, Dillard, and Paulsen. Included are copies of the Dean's Reports to the president from 1904 to 1968; these reports are an excellent starting point for one researching practically any facet of the Law School's history.
In the deans' correspondence files, the researcher may expect to find several issues which have concerned all the deans of this century. The question of the best ratio of in-state to out-state students have been routinely debated, with the deans and faculty consistently arguing that a substantial proportion of non-Virginians would contribute to the school's maintaining national status and that a decline of out-o-state students would have a significant negative effect.
Through the deans' files one may also trace the campaign for higher faculty salaries and for more funds for the library. The immediate result of this campaign was the rallying of alumni in the form of the Law School Foundation in 1952. Only in the late sixties was the school relatively comfortable financially, no longer relying almost exclusively on state funds.
The library files in the Deans' Papers cover most of Catherine Lipop Graves' term as the first law librarian, all of Frances Farmer's term and the selection of Larry Wenger as Farmer's successor. These records document particularly well the labor of Frances Farmer to raise the collection from average status to eleventh among American law libraries. There is ample evidence of alumni interest and support for this achievement.
In these papers are continuous files on visiting, often foreign, lecturers and the Doherty Lecture established in 1954. There are also good records on the development and growth of some of the student publications and organizations. And, finally, there is alumni correspondence which is primarily concerned with fund-raising. There are, however, many letters from graduates who maintained close ties with the school and often voiced opinions about curriculum, grades, admissions and other matters of policy.
The first group of correspondence and similar records in these papers range from 1912 (primarily 1937-1968) to 1975; while they cover the term of all the law school deans, they bulk largest in material from Ribble's and Dillard's administrations. These files were kept in a systematic fashion, and virtually all the original headings have retained. Regrouping of certain files under one rubric --Scholarships, Student Organizations, and Student Publications-- should facilitate research of these topics.
The records which are called Series I were apparently "retired" just before or after Paulsen took over the deanship. It is impossible now to determine why some files were put in storage and others were not; in any case, this accounts for the overlap of dates: files that Dillard kept are split almost evenly between Series I, which came from a closet, and Series II, which came from an unused file cabinet in the current dean's office.
This group of papers which spans 1940 -(1963-1975) -1977 saw a change of deans and several changes of secretaries, so consequently the filing system was inconsistently maintained. Mr. Dillard's files contained only administrative materials, while Mr. Paulsen's other professional papers were interfiled with the administrative records. New files were started early in Paulsen's term but were not necessarily maintained, nor were those files which Dillard had originated. A voluminous amount of Paulsen's correspondence was simply filed in folder marked "Miscellaneous".
When these records were sorted, the original folder labels were transferred to the new folders, with only occasional changes for clarity or easier reference. The "Miscellaneous" folders were sorted and the correspondence interfiled under the proper topical headings. This sorting produced a few new headings, such as "Alumni Correspondence with Dean Paulsen" and "Faculty: Miscellaneous Concerns", because the volume of material justified such designations.
Each dean has been required to send an annual report for his school to the University president since the establishment of that office in 1904. Series III contains carbon or electrostatic copies of all these reports to 1968.