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MSS 81-8

The Law Practice Papers of George E. Allen, Sr.


This collection of cases handled by Allen from 1939 to 1969, includes cases involving torts, civil rights, product liability, obscenity and labor. Two civil rights cases are of particular interest: Aline Owen v. Afro-American Co. of Baltimore and Fred Wallace v. Commonplace of Virginia.

1939-1969 [Inclusive]
15 Linear Feet (37 boxes; 15 linear feet)

Scope & Contents

This collection consists of approximately 12.3 shelf feet (ca. 7,500 items), comprising certain legal papers of George E. Allen, Sr., a Richmond, Virginia, trial lawyer from 1910 to 1970. These papers cover the years 1939 to 1969. Included are correspondence, depositions, legal papers, transcripts, and newspaper clippings.

The larger portion of this collection deals with torts and liability cases. There are, however, two cases which might hold particular interest for those studying legal and political history. Aline Owen v. Afro-American Co. of Baltimore is a case concerning the definition of obscenity and has strong racial overtones. Fred Wallace v. Commonwealth of Virginia</em> would surely be of interest to students of the civil rights revolution in the South during the 1960s. In addition, there is some material dealing with legal remedies for air piracy.

The papers have been arranged by cases. Within each case, material has been placed in the following order: correspondence, factual, depositions, legal papers (including briefs, memoranda, and bills), final judgments, transcripts, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous papers. The cases dealing with railroads have been placed at the beginning of the collection. These railroad cases are arranged alphabnetically and chronologically within each category. The cases dealing with topics other than railroads are arranged alphabetically in a similar manner.

Collection Description

    Biographical / Historical

    George E. Allen, Sr., was born in Lunenberg County, Virginia, on 31 March 1885. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and the University of Virginia. After receiving a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Virginia in 1910, he began a law practice in Victoria, Virginia. Elected as mayor of Victoria in 1914, he also represented the 28th District in the State Senate from 1916–1920. After being defeated for reelection, he returned to private law practice. He thereafter became and remained active in bar affairs and legal education. A good source for Allen’s personal and legal philosophy, family background, and brief summaries of his major cases is his autobiography, <emph render"italic">The Law as a Way of Life: Memoirs of George E. Allen, 1910 – 1970</em>. Allen died in 1972.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The collection was donated to Alderman Library by Wilbur C. Allen on April 2, 1975. The papers were transferred to Special Collections of the University of Virginia Law Library "on permanent loan" on September 28, 1981.