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MSS 91-6

The Papers of Emerson G. Spies, 1955-1990


Professional, administrative and personal papers (1936-1992) of Emerson G. Spies. The collection includes institutional records from his tenure as Law School dean, dean of admissions and his involment with the Law School Foundation and the Alumni Council. There is also personal correspondence.

1936-1992 [Inclusive]
31 Cubic Feet

Scope & Contents

The Papers of Emerson Spies consists of 31 boxes (13 linear feet) of material and spans 1955 to 1990. The collection is arranged in alphabetical order; however, it can be subdivided into three primary categories: Law School-related material, personal correspondence and lectures, and records concerning activity outside the realm of the Law School.

Included among materials related to the Law School are records from Spies' time as Dean of Admissions and his involvement with the Admissions Committee. Also included are materials stemming from his service on the Appointments Committee with are sparse in places but cover 1966 to 1983. Spies' involvement with the Law School Foundation and Alumni Council is documented for his years of service after leaving the deanship, from 1980 to 1990. The collection contains 13 folders of personal correspondence. Lecture notes are also included, primarily for speeches given outside the Law School. The third subdivision of this collection is a variety of materials documenting Spies' involvement with associations outside of the Law School. There are materials from the American Association of Law Schools, particularly concerning the Nominations and Pre-Legal Education Committees. There is an extensive amount of material concerning the Law School Admission Council and the development and administration of the Law School Admission Test. Finally in this category is material concerning the American Bar Association and the Virginia State Bar.

Spies' deanship is documented in the Records of the Dean's Office, RG 100-88.

Collection Description

    Biographical / Historical

    Emerson George Spies was born 6 November 1914 in Akron, New York. He attended Hobart College, where he excelled as a scholar and athlete, and graduated summa cum laude in 1936. As a Rhodes Scholar, he studied law at Brasenose College, Oxford University, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Jurisprudence in 1938 and a Bachelor of Civil Law in 1939, and was awarded the academic honor of "double first." When he returned to the United States, Spies spent two years at the University of Chicago Law School as a Tutorial Fellow, and in 1941 moved to New York City to practice with the firm of Mudge, Stern, Williams, and Tucker. He joined the U.S. Army in 1943, and after receiving a commission at the Judge Advocate General's School at the University of Michigan, he stayed on to become an instructor. While there he became acquainted with Lt. Col. Jack Ritchie, head of the School of Military Justice and professor on leave from the University of Virginia School of Law. Ritchie was largely responsible for Spies' joining the law faculty at Virginia after the war was over.

    Spies was hired as assistant professor in 1946 and was appointed associate professor in 1947 and professor in 1950. He held the Joseph M. Hartfield Professorship from 1967 to 1976, and the Mary and Daniel Loughran Professorship from 1976 to 1985. A specialist in real property and real estate finance, from 1947 through 1961 he taught property to every first-year law student, and from that time on to retirement, taught at least one first-year section of property. At the time of his death, it was noted that Spies had taught half of the Law School's 13,000 graduates. He was a dynamic, caring teacher who was loved and fondly remembered by his students.

    As soon as he joined the faculty, Spies was asked to help with the admissions program at the Law School. With characteristic energy and enthusiasm, he became deeply involved in the admissions process and conducted it almost singlehandedly for twenty years while teaching a full course load.

    Accompanying his work in admissions at Virginia was Spies' involvement in the development of the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). In 1947 he, along with representatives of Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Pennsylvania, formed the Law School Admissions Council which spawned the LSAT. From 1963 to 1966 Spies was head of the council and served on its Board of Trustees until the year of his death. In addition he served on the Association of American Law Schools' Committee on Pre-Legal Education and Admissions, the Accreditation Committee, and the Committee on Admissions to the Bar.

    Spies exerted strong leadership at the Law School in other ways. For ten years he served as chair of the Appointments Committee which attracted a number of outstanding faculty members. Over the years he sponsored many student organizations and journals. In 1976 he became acting dean at the Law School and later that year was appointed dean, a position he held until he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 in 1980. During his deanship, Walter L. Brown Hall or Phase II of the North Grounds building was completed, funded entirely by private money. As dean he strengthened the school's ties with its alumni and exerted strong leadership in fund-raising for faculty research and scholarships.

    In 1984, in recognition of his many contributions to the Law School and University, but especially for his excellence in teaching, Spies was presented the University's Thomas Jefferson Award. Upon his retirement from teaching in 1985, the alumni created the Emerson G. Spies Professorship which was first held by John Calvin Jeffries, Jr., beloved student and later colleague and close friend of Spies.

    Spies married his first wife, Mary Ethel Bell, in 1940, and they had three children, Sally, Richard, and Margaret. Mary Ethel died of cancer in 1966, and in 1972, Spies married Julia Field Sobbott, who brought to the marriage her four young children, Richard, Laura, Daniel, and Wes. In addition to his devotion to his large family and to the Law School, Spies was an avid tennis player and gardener. He planned, selected the plants, planted and tended a woodland garden at the Law School which was later named for him. He died of complications of heart disease on September 24, 1990.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    These files were transferred to the archives from storage betweenca. 1989-1991.

fileAdministration, 1975-76MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileAdmissions: Law School, 1980-90MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileAdmissions: Talk to Alumni, 1973MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileAdmissions Committee, 1969-73MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileAmerican Bar Association (ABA), 1980-88MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileABA: Virginia Fellows, 1980-88MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileAnglo-American Property Institute , 1981-84MSS 91-6, Box 1
fileAssociation of American Law Schools (AALS): Appointments , 1968-69MSS 91-6, Box 2
fileAALS: Financial Statements and Independent Auditors' Report, 1987-88MSS 91-6, Box 2
fileAALS: Investment Policy Materials, 1985-88MSS 91-6, Box 2
fileAALS: Nominations Committee, 1979-83MSS 91-6, Box 2
fileAALS: Pre-Legal Education Committee , 1982-85MSS 91-6, Box 3
fileBar Examiners: Alaska, 1983MSS 91-6, Box 9
fileBar Examiners: California, 1982-88MSS 91-6, Box 9
fileBar Examiners: Minnesota, 1967-88MSS 91-6, Box 9
fileBar Examiners: Virginia , 1980-90MSS 91-6, Box 9
fileContinuing Legal Education, 1957-62MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileCorrespondence: Miscellaneous, 1975-76MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileDean's Day: Law Day Week, 1988MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileDean's Report, 1970MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileEbenstein Litigation, 1968-69MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileEbenstein Litigation: Dillard, 1968MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileEducational Policy Committee, 1975, 1976MSS 91-6, Box 10
fileEmployment Opportunities for Students, 1980-81MSS 91-6, Box 11
fileEnergy Proposal, 1978-80MSS 91-6, Box 11
fileFinancial Resources and Institutional Planning Committee, 1984-85MSS 91-6, Box 11
fileFoundation and Alumni Council, 1980-89MSS 91-6, Box 11
fileFoundation and Alumni Council: Law School, 1987-90MSS 91-6, Box 11
fileFoundation Board of Trustees, 1982-88MSS 91-6, Box 12
fileFoundation: Harrison Foundation, 1985-87MSS 91-6, Box 12
fileGary Gannon, 1974MSS 91-6, Box 13
fileGeneral, 1974-77MSS 91-6, Box 13
fileGrade Committee, 1968-71MSS 91-6, Box 13
fileGregory, Charles v. Highway Department, 1963-65MSS 91-6, Box 13
fileHobart College, 1969-70MSS 91-6, Box 13
fileHobart College Committee File, 1970-72MSS 91-6, Box 14
fileHonor System Committee (Ad Hoc) , 1983-85MSS 91-6, Box 14
fileJag Papers, 1936-46MSS 91-6, Box 14
fileJustice Lewis F. Powell Jr. Fund, 1981MSS 91-6, Box 14
fileStacy Juul-Nielsen, 1974-76MSS 91-6, Box 14
fileJudiciary Graduate Degree Program (LLM), 1979-92MSS 91-6, Box 14
fileLLM Thesis: Joseph Doyle, 1990MSS 91-6, Box 15
fileLaw School Admission Council (LSAC): Annual Business Meeting, 1984MSS 91-6, Box 15
fileLSAC: Annual Report, 1983MSS 91-6, Box 15
fileLSAC: Correspondence, 1980-85MSS 91-6, Box 16
fileLSAC: Finance Committee Meeting, 1983, 1984MSS 91-6, Box 18
fileLaw School Admission Test (LSAT): Ad Hoc Committee, 1966MSS 91-6, Box 18
fileLSAT: Admissions Seminar, 1963MSS 91-6, Box 18
fileLSAT: Annual Council Meeting , 1963-66, 1968MSS 91-6, Box 18
fileLSAT: Annual Council Report, 1968MSS 91-6, Box 19
fileLSAT: Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Admission to the Bar, 1979-81MSS 91-6, Box 19
fileLSAT: AALS Bar Exam Study Project , 1970MSS 91-6, Box 19
fileLSAT: AALS Committee, 1962-64MSS 91-6, Box 19
fileLSAT: AALS Pre-Legal Education and Admission , 1969-70MSS 91-6, Box 19
fileLSAT: Bar Examinations, 1976-81MSS 91-6, Box 19
fileLSAT: Board of Trustees , 1969-73MSS 91-6, Box 20
fileLSAT: Collens Bar Review , 1969-71MSS 91-6, Box 20
fileLSAT: Council, 1964-66MSS 91-6, Box 20
fileLSAT: Council, Educational Testing Service (ETS) , 1963-64MSS 91-6, Box 20
fileLSAT: Development and Research Committee, 1962-65MSS 91-6, Box 20
fileLSAT: ETS Executive Committee, 1963-65MSS 91-6, Box 20
fileLSAT: ETS Finance Committee, 1967-71MSS 91-6, Box 21
fileLSAT: ETS General File, 1965-66MSS 91-6, Box 21
fileLSAT: ETS Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1963-64MSS 91-6, Box 21
fileLSAT: ETS Statistical Reports , 1964MSS 91-6, Box 21
fileLSAT: Executive Committee, 1965MSS 91-6, Box 22
fileLSAT: Finance Council, 1963-65MSS 91-6, Box 22
fileLSAT: Greenbriar Conference, 1965MSS 91-6, Box 22
fileLSAT: Miscellaneous, 1965-68MSS 91-6, Box 22
fileLSAT: Miscellaneous Correspondence, Committee Meetings , 1963-65MSS 91-6, Box 22
fileLSAT: Services Committee , 1963-66MSS 91-6, Box 22
fileLSAT: Symposium Planning Committee, 1959-64MSS 91-6, Box 23
fileLSAT: Virginia Board Bar Examiners , 1968-73MSS 91-6, Box 23
fileLaw Day , 1975-76MSS 91-6, Box 23
fileLaw School: Miscellaneous, 1983-90MSS 91-6, Box 23
fileLaw School: Mission and Financial Requirements, 1977MSS 91-6, Box 24
fileLaw Reform, 1971MSS 91-6, Box 24
fileLecture: Continuing Legal Education , 1966MSS 91-6, Box 24
fileLecture: Eminent Domain, 1965MSS 91-6, Box 24
fileLecture: Introductory Property, 1969MSS 91-6, Box 24
fileLecture: Jointly Owned Property , 1957MSS 91-6, Box 24
fileLecture: Roanoke Bar Association , 1959MSS 91-6, Box 25
fileLecture: Samford University, 1981MSS 91-6, Box 25
fileLecture: Speech File , 1976-77MSS 91-6, Box 25
fileLetters of condolence sent to the Law School by former students, colleagues and friends of EGS , 1990MSS 91-6, Box 25
fileLoughran Foundation Seminar , 1978MSS 91-6, Box 25
fileMiscellaneous , 1975MSS 91-6, Box 25
filePersonal Correspondence, 1966-85MSS 91-6, Box 25
fileProfessional Correspondence: Miscellaneous, 1979-82MSS 91-6, Box 27
fileProperty Reform, 1968-70MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileRare Book Conference Room: Class of 1950 , 1980-81MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileReal Estate Textbook, 1966-69MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileRecent Cases , 1978MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileRecommendations for Students , 1980-88MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileResearch Assistants, 1979-82MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileSelf-Study: University of Virginia, 1984-85MSS 91-6, Box 29
fileSpeech to the State Bar, 1973MSS 91-6, Box 30
fileSummer School for Lawyers Committee, 1983-84MSS 91-6, Box 30
fileTax Program: University of Virginia and Oxford, 1981MSS 91-6, Box 30
fileTax Study Committee: Albemarle County, 1963-64MSS 91-6, Box 30
fileTeaching Clinic: Strong, 1969-72MSS 91-6, Box 30
fileTenure Report: Duren, 1975MSS 91-6, Box 30
fileThomas Jefferson Award Committee , 1976-87MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileThomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Award in Law: Edward Muskie, 1988MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileThomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Award in Law: Sandra Day O'Connor , 1987MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileThomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Award in Law: William H. Webster, 1986MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileTouro Law School Materials, 1981MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileUniversity Athletic Committee , 1974-76MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileVirginia State Bar: Committee on Estates and Property, 1965MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileVirginia State Bar: Committee on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar , 1966MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileVirginia State Bar: Legal Education and Admission to the Bar , 1980-82MSS 91-6, Box 31
fileVirginia State Bar: Report of Law School Committee , 1955MSS 91-6, Box 31