School of Law Reference collection, 1930-ongoing

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Duke University. University Archives
2 Linear Feet
2000 Items
Material in English
Collection ID:
University Archives Record Group:
01 -- General Information and University History
01 -- General Information and University History > 11 -- Reference Collections


Scope and content:

The School of Law Reference Collection contains subject files pertaining to various topics particular to the School of Law; some subjects/formats include: admissions, clippings, first female law student, student produced publications, first year law classes, bulletins, reports, and curriculum. The collection begins in 1930 and is ongoing.

Biographical / historical:

timeline excerpted from School of Law's A History of Duke Law School

Chronology List
Date Event
Braxton Craven, President of Normal (later Trinity) College, in Randolph County, North Carolina, the predecessor of Duke University, inaugurates lectures on Political and Natural Law as part of a liberal arts curriculum; in 1855 these are supplemented by lectures on Constitutional and International Law.
The Law Department is established as one of eleven academic departments in Trinity College.
A separate School of Law is organized to offer professional training.
The School of Law closes and legal instruction is discontinued following President Craven's death.
Legal instruction is resumed as an academic course in the History Department.
Trinity College moves from Randolph County to Durham, and the School of Law is reopened with Justice A. C. Avery of the North Carolina Supreme Court as its Dean. No undergraduate work is required for admission to the two-year program leading to the LL.B degree.
The Law School closes and legal instruction is discontinued for financial reasons.
James Buchanan Duke and Benjamin Newton Duke provide the endowment to reopen the School of Law, and Samuel Fox Mordecai, a Raleigh attorney and part-time law teacher at Wake Forest College, is appointed Senior Professor of Law.
Professor Mordecai, who has been named Dean, initiates a reorganization of the School of Law, which is housed on the second floor of the East Duke Building. Trinity is admitted to membership in the Association of American Law Schools. Trinity withdraws from membership in 1919
Duke University is created, and Trinity College becomes its undergraduate school for men.
The School of Law moves into renovated quarters in the Carr Building on the newly rebuilt East Campus. Dean Mordecai dies, and W. Bryan Bolich is named Acting Dean.
Miriam Cox, a Duke Woman's College graduate and court reporter, is the first woman student admitted to Duke Law School.
The School of Law moves into its new building on the Main Quadrangle of the West Campus.Justin Miller, Dean of the Law School of the University of Southern California, is appointed Dean, and the faculty is substantially enlarged. Duke is readmitted to membership in the Association of American Law Schools.
The Duke Bar Association, closely modeled on the American Bar Association, is established by the law students to: "1) foster legal science, 2) maintain the honor and dignity of the legal profession among law students, 3) cultivate professional ethics and social intercourse among its members, and 4) promote the welfare of the Law School of Duke University."
Clinical legal education is introduced into the curriculum with the establishment of the Duke Legal Aid Clinic, the first law school-connected program of its kind in the country.
Dean Horack oversees the construction of five log cabins on the northern edge of the West Campus. Built to help alleviate the shortage of housing for law students, they are used as dormitory and recreational facilities. The cabins are less Spartan than their name implies, and have electricity, central heating and indoor plumbing.
The Law School building is now too small, and lacks space to house the Law Library (now over 100,000 volumes). Dean McClain receives a commitment of $250,000 from the University Trustees towards a new, modern law building.
The Duke Legal Aid Clinic closes and clinical legal education is discontinued.
The first African-American students are admitted.
The School of Law moves into its new building on Towerview Road and Science Drive. The Honorable Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the United States, is the principal speaker at the dedication ceremony on Law Day, 1963.
To protest the North Carolina Bar Association's denial of membership to an African-American graduate of the Law School, the faculty approves a resolution by a 2-1 margin to sever ties with the Bar Association until applicants are accepted without discrimination based on race. The Law School re-establishes its connection with the Bar Association in 1969.
The MD/JD program, the Law School's first joint degree program, is inaugurated under co-sponsorship with the Medical School. This program is followed in later years by joint degree programs under co-sponsorship with the Business School, the Institute of Public Policy, the School of the Environment, the Engineering School, and the Graduate School (in disciplines, including anthropology, economics, English, history, philosophy, political science, Romance studies, and humanities).
The LLB degree is replaced by the JD as the basic professional degree.
Small-section instruction is introduced in conjunction with an intensive research and writing program in all first-year courses.
The Legal Aid Clinic is re-activated; clinical legal education is reintroduced into the curriculum in 1972.
The JD/LLM (International and Comparative Law) combined degree program, the first of its kind in the country, is inaugurated.
The LLM program for foreign-trained lawyers is expanded and rapidly grows; in the 2007-2008 academic year there are over 80 international students at Duke Law and almost 1,000 international alumni.
A voluntary Pro Bono program is established with 44 students providing assistance to programs in the Durham community; by the 2006-2007 academic year there are 368 students enrolled in 576 pro bono placements.
The Center on Law, Ethics, and National Security is founded; by 2006 the Law School supports centers and programs devoted to the study of a variety of issues:
• Center for Environmental Solutions (launched in 2005)
• Center for Genome Ethics, Law, and Policy (established in 2002 as part of the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, a multi-disciplinary, campus-wide network of centers and programs)
• Center for International and Comparative Law (founded 2006)
• Center for the Study of the Public Domain and Program in Intellectual Property (created in 2002)
• Global Capital Markets Center (established in 1998, in cooperation with the Fuqua School of Business)
• Program in Public Law (founded in 1997).
Clinical education at the Law School is revived with the Death Penalty Clinic; other clinics are soon established:
• AIDS Legal Project (1996)
• Animal Law Project (2005)
• Children's Law Clinic (2002)
• Community Enterprise Clinic (2002)
• Environmental Law and Policy Clinic (2007)
• Guantanamo Defense Clinic (2005)
• Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic (2006)
The "Great Lives in the Law" lecture series, sponsored by the Duke Program in Public Law, is inaugurated by William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States. Subsequent speakers include: civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers (2002), Justice Anthony Kennedy (2002), Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (2003), Dennis W. Archer, president of the American Bar Association (2003), Richard Goldstone, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (2004), historian John Hope Franklin (2004), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2005), former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno (2005), and Linda Greenhouse, Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times (2006).
Acquisition information:
The School of Law Reference Collection was compiled from various sources by University Archives staff for reference and research.
Processing information:

Processed by Archives Staff, February 2008

Encoded by Sherrie Bowser, February 2008

Updated by Molly Bragg, July 2011

Accessions 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.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Law -- Study and teaching -- North Carolina -- Durham
Duke University. School of Law


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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], School of Law Reference Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.