W. Bryan Bolich papers, 1891-1972

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Bolich, W. Bryan, 1896-1977
W. Bryan Bolich (1896-1977) served as a Professor of Law at Duke University from 1927 to 1966. Papers contain family memorabilia, general correspondence, photographs, an oral history, diaries, course notes, writings, drafts of statutes revisions, and clippings. Major subjects include family work at Southern Railway in Forsyth County, N.C., Duke Law School curriculum development and reorganization, Law Day, the Rhodes Scholarship, Trinity College Class of 1917 alumni activities, Law School Alumni Association, North Carolina House of Representatives, and property and alien rights laws authored with the North Carolina General Statute Commission.
5 Linear Feet
5,000 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates
29 -- Papers of Faculty, Staff, and Associates > 02 -- Individuals


Scope and content:

Correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, diaries, certificates, correspondence and drafts of laws, miscellaneous memorabilia from Bolich's career as a Professor at Duke University Law School, student notebooks from courses taken at Trinity College and University of Oxford, and a taped memoir and 19-page transcription. Family materials include materials from Southern Railway and much correspondence between Bolich's parents during their courtship (ca 1891-1893). Political correspondence between Bolich and Richard Nixon is filed in Series 3 (Correspondence. Political).

Biographical / historical:

W. Bryan Bolich was born in 1896 in Salisbury, North Carolina. He began his education at Wofford College (Spartanburg, S.C.), then transferred during his junior year to Trinity College (A.B. 1917) where he studied English and Economics. After graduation from Trinity College, he taught classes and coached baseball and basketball teams for the Trinity Park School in Durham, N.C. In 1918, Bolich enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He quickly rose from Seaman to Chief Petty officer and was later commissioned as an Ensign. He served for two years in World War I (1918-1920) and then returned to Trinity College to begin his law education (1921-1922). In 1922 Bolich was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University where he earned his law degree (B.A. 1923, B.C.L. 1924, M.A. 1927).

As a student he was a member and officer of many fraternities, including the "9019" honorary scholastic fraternity of Trinity College, Phi Beta Kappa (a scholastic fraternity), President of Order of the Coif (an honorary legal scholarship fraternity), Omicron Delta Kappa (an honorary leadership fraternity), the Tombs (an honorary athletic fraternity), Chief Alumnus of Kappa Alpha (a social fraternity), and Phi Delta Phi (a professional legal fraternity). He was also the 1917 Class President of Trinity College and was active in raising funds and organizing class reunions.

Upon his return from Oxford in 1927, Bolich was admitted to the North Carolina Bar Association and moved back to his hometown of Winston-Salem, N.C., where he practiced Civil and Criminal Law in state and federal court. In 1927, he was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly and served one term as the democratic representative of Forsyth County, N.C.. There Bolich drafted and introduced one of the first Alien Rights Registration Acts adopted in the United States. Later in his career, as a member of the North Carolina General Statutes Commission, Bolich was instrumental in preparing the amendment to the North Carolina Constitution which equalized property rights of married couples. He also helped write amendments and propose new laws on inheritance, estate rights, and landlord and tenant relations.

In fall 1927 Bolich returned to Duke University to teach legal history, real property, procedure, and landlord and tenant relations at the Law School. As a Professor, he was a member of the Duke University National Council, Duke Law Alumni Association Council, the American Association of University Professors, and served as a Rhodes Scholarships Institutional Representative for Duke University. He was instrumental in revising the Law School's curriculum and successfully argued for a required third year of study. He also established the Duke Law Alumni Association and edited the school's first alumni directory in 1935. He assembled a "Law Day" program that brought in panels of influential speakers including Duke Law alumni. Bolich was a professor to Duke Law alumnus Richard Nixon. During 1957, Bolich was a Visiting Professor at the University of Texas, Houston.

Bolich was the author of Activities of the North Carolina Bar Association, 1925-1935 (1936), Cases and Materials on Introduction to Procedure (undated), and Duke Law School: the First Hundred Years (1968). After his 1966 retirement from Duke University Law School, Bolich moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he lived until his death in 1977.

Acquisition information:
The W. Bryan Bolich papers were received by the University Archives as a transfer in 1969-1975.
Processing information:

Processed by Emily Glenn, November 2002

Encoded by Kimberly Sims, September 2006

Accessions A69-54, A72-33, A75-50, A71-387 were merged into one collection, described in this finding aid.

Physical location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Collection is open for research.

In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

Terms of access:

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], W. Bryan Bolich Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.