For the first time, the annual Alumni Reunions Weekend program included a program by Law Library. Last Saturday in the library’s Caplin Reading Room, staff members Philip Herrington, Elizabeth Ladner, and Kristin Jensen presented “Capturing the Past, Preserving the Future: People, Places, and Pedagogy.” The program featured fellow Philip Herrington’s look at the history of U.Va. Law School as place. Herrington began with the law program’s early years as a class offering in a Lawn pavilion and a collection of law books in the Rotunda Annex. He then chronicled how the school became its own place at Minor Hall, but overcrowding and a passion for murals soon led to the building of the more spacious Clark Hall. The Law School continued to grow and eventually moved to North Grounds, where several expansion projects transformed the structure into the place it is today. Elizabeth Ladner, also a Law Library fellow, illustrated U.Va. Law School as a curriculum, exploring how Thomas Jefferson’s uncommon hiring of a single law professor for undergraduates evolved over time into free standing professional graduate school. Kristin Jensen then explored U.Va. Law School as a story, as told through student and faculty memorabilia and writings. Among the interesting artifacts Jensen shared were letters home from Elizabeth Tompkins, the Law School’s first female graduate, which revealed her struggle to find her place among the men of her 1L class.
At the close of the program, Director Taylor Fitchett issued standing invitation to alumni to share their own U.Va. Law stories and memorabilia. She shared her hope that our past students will come to regard any law school books or class notes stored in their attics, as well as their personal stories, as welcome future additions to the U.Va. Law School history. If you’re an alumnus or past faculty member with something to share about your U.Va. Law experience, please contact Taylor Fitchett at firstname.lastname@example.org or at http://libguides.law.virginia.edu/alumni.
– Amy Wharton