Women of the Law Class of 1975: Co-educational Pioneers at W&L
Few events in the history of the Washington and Lee University School of Law are as significant as the arrival of co-education in the 1972-1973 academic year. As a tangible tribute to the women of the class of 1975 on the 45th anniversary of their graduation, Dean Brant Helwig, with financial assistance from the school's The Order of Eight student society, set about producing a permanent exhibit in their honor.
Law School Archivist, John Jacob, and Dean Helwig did preliminary design work for the display. Gropen, Inc. of Charlottesville, Virginia lent their design and fabrication expertise to realize this tribute. It was to be installed in time for the 45th Reunion of the class of 1975, scheduled for April 2020. The corona virus pandemic of 2020, however, forced the cancellation of all such events.
This online version of the exhibit, therefore, appeared before the opening of its physical counterpart. It contains images and text from that exhibit, as well as materials that could not be included due to space limitations.
Anyone having photos, memorabilia, or other materials relating to the early years of co-education in the law school is encouraged to contact the Law School Archives.
Leslie Devan Smith, Jr.: The First African American Law Student at Washington and Lee University
John N. Jacob
The Washington and Lee University School of Law had long intended to tangibly honor its first African American graduate, Leslie D. Smith. Early in 2019, with the 50th anniversary of Smith's graduation fast approaching, Dean Brant Hellwig led a committee charged with producing a permanent exhibit in Smith's honor.
Law School Archivist, John Jacob, and Dean Hellwig did preliminary design work for the display. Gropen, Inc. of Charlottesville, Virginia enhanced the design and fabricated the exhibit. It was installed in time for the 50th Reunion of the class of 1969, held in April 2019. The exhibit is located in the lobby of the Millhiser Moot Court Room in Sydney Lewis Hall.
This online exhibit is a companion to the physical one. It contains images and text from that exhibit, as well as materials that could not be included. Anyone who has photos or other materials relating to Leslie Smith's life and is willing to share them is encouraged to contact the Law School Archives.
The Tucker Hall Fire of 1934
Eighty years ago this month, in the early hours of December 16, 1934, Tucker Memorial Hall became engulfed in flames. The building, the first dedicated home of the law school at Washington and Lee University, was completely destroyed, as were virtually all of the contents.
This exhibit tells the story of the fire in photos and press coverage. It goes on to document the planning and construction of a new law building in less than 14 months, and the determination of the school to protect the college group buildings that compose the colonnade from a similar fate.
A Sampling of W&L Law Distinguished Alumnae
In the spring of 2012, law library staffer, Bonnie Gates, was commissioned to create a Law Reunion Weekend display honoring the accomplishments of our women graduates. Though the full esthetic of that significant effort cannot be duplicated here, it's essence has been captured. It should go without saying that our alumnae of significant achievement are legion, and that this effort of necessity only begins to note their aggregate honors.
Black History Month
February, of course, is Black History Month. This coming weekend is the Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention, a venerable institution more than a century old. This image of Adlai Stevenson from an October 1956 issue ofThe Richmond Afro-American has echos of both.
At the 1956 Mock Convention, Alben Barkleyboth finished his speech and expired in one final breath. That convention, like the real one, nominated Adlai Stevenson.
First published in 1941 The Richmond Afro-American was a direct descendant of The Richmond Planet which was started in 1882. Though Afro-American ceased publication in 1996, black newspapers are are very much alive in Richmond and throughout the United States.
Daniel Clovis Moomaw
Moomaw was a graduate of the law school and briefly served on its faculty. His heroic death in World War I was belatedly celebrated in a Lee Chapel ceremony on Veterans Day 2005.
Judicial Humor: The Snail Darter and the “The Man for All Seasons”
Soon after the TVA v. Hill decision was announced, Chief Justice Burger sent this to the opinion’s author, Justice Powell.
Mary Kay Depoy Harris, 1978L, First Woman to Head Law Review
From a Washington and Lee University News office release on her death:
"Mary DePoy Harris '78L, lawyer and community leader, died Nov. 20, 1997, in Maywood, Ill. She was editor in chief of the Law Review while at W&L. Harris received her undergraduate degree from the University of Vermont where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She practiced with the Chicago firms of Chadwell, Kayser, Ruggles, McGee and Hastings as well as with Gardner, Carton and Douglas before opening a private practice in Evanston, Ill. Harris served as president and treasurer of the Lincolnwood School PTA and was active in the Leadership Evanston Program and the Evanston Child Care Auxiliary. She served as a board member of the Evanston United Way and chairman of the 1995 and 1996 annual fund-raising campaigns."
In her honor, the Class of 1978 Law Scholarship, established in 1990, was renamed the Class of 1978 Law Mary DePoy Harris Scholarship in 1999. That same year, an issue of the Washington and Lee Law Reviewwas dedicated to her.
Our Graduates - W&L's ABA Presidents
Only two other law schools can claim more ABA presidents than W&L – Harvard with 18 and Columbia with 10. Just over 6,300 people have graduated from W&L, which means that one in 1,000 has served in one of the most important positions in the legal profession.
Robert J. Grey, Jr. '76L, 128th president, 2004-05
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. 1929, 1931L, 88th president, 1964-65
Ross L. Malone, Jr. 1932L, 82nd president, 1958-59
Scott M. Loftin 1899 LL.D., 58th president, 1934-35
John W. Davis 1895, 45th president, 1922-23
Henry St. George Tucker 1876 27th president, 1904-05
Other ABA presidents with ties to W&L include R. William Ide III a 1962 graduate of the College (and graduate of the University of Virginia Law School) who served as the 117th ABA president, 1993-94, and John Randolph Tucker, the first dean of the W&L School of Law (1893-97), who served as the 15th ABA president, 1892-93.
Powell Family Valentine's Day Messages
A collection of Valentine's Day correspondence between members of the Powell family.
Christmas Cards From the Josephine Rucker Powell Collection
The Josephine Rucker Powell Papers include hundreds of Christmas cards sent to her and her husband, Lewis F. Powell, Jr. over a period of more than forty years. Featured here are cards sent by prominent government officials.
Exams from February 1, 1878, February 7, 1878, and a contracts exam from 1902
Fortieth Anniversary of Justice Powell Joining the Supreme Court
Lewis F. Powell, Jr. was nominated by President Richard M. Nixon to serve as Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on October 21, 1971. He was confirmed by the Senate (89-1 vote) on December 7. On January 3, 1972, he took the constitutional oath of office becoming a government employee with a salary of $60,000. He was formally sworn in on January 7.
Powell Family Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving was always a time of family gathering for the Powell extended family. Below are some photos from those events.
The first two images were taken at the Gwathmey family home at Bear Island in Hanover County, Virginia in 1960. The property was in the family of Powell's mother from before the Civil War. For much of the twentieth century, it served as a summer retreat and a place for family holiday gatherings.
Apparently the first photo was taken by Lewis Powell and the second by his brother Angus, as they swapped spots in the back row in the two images. Note that while Angus's photo is slightly out of focus and is a straightforward snapshot, Lewis' shows his sophistication in photography. Not only is it in focus, but he has better control of his subjects, including the apparent posing of his mother and two sisters looking away from the camera at varying angles.
Images 3 through 7 (in vertical descending order) are photos and captions (in Justice Powell's hand, from the backs of the photos) of Powell Thanksgivings 1975, 1976 and 1985. All of these were taken in the backyard of Glenelg, Justice and Mrs. Powell's home in the west end of Richmond. The Huguenot Bridge over the James River can be seen in the background of the 1976 photo.
Photos of Prof. Roger D. Groot, 1942-2005
John N. Jacob
"When Professor Roger Groot died suddenly in the fall of 2005 while hunting in Rockbridge County, he had served on the faculty of Washington and Lee's law school for more than thirty years. This extraordinary man had influenced countless students, and their grief at his death mirrored the reaction of his colleagues in the academy and attorneys in the criminal defense bar around the country."
Brian C. Murchison from "A Tribute to Roger D. Groot" at 64 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 3
W&L Law Class of 1976 30th Reunion Scrapbook
Frank Duemmler assembled this scrapbook for his Washington and Lee University School of Law class of 1976. At his request, certain personally identifiable information about individual class members has been redacted. To request access to the unredacted version, please contact the Lewis F. Powell Jr. Archives.
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