Ask the Archivist

Far Away Long Ago

Q. I’m always impressed when I see a list of Boalt Hall’s students and notice how many countries they come from. At what point in Boalt Hall’s history did we go from being just a California law school to being international? --FS, San Francisco

Motoyuki Negoro
Motoyuki Negoro

A. We’ve never not been international. When Berkeley awarded its first three law degrees in 1903, one of the graduates was Motoyuki Negoro, a Japanese national who had emigrated to San Francisco as a teenager, and who later became a noted labor activist working on behalf of Japanese migrant sugarcane workers in the Territory of Hawaii. Leaving aside the LL.M. program, which has always had a rich tradition of international recruitment, the J.D. program from the beginning has attracted students from around the world. A look at just the very first decade of the law school’s history shows that even then we were — quite literally — all over the map.

Three members of the Class of 1917 demonstrate the law school’s global reach. Frederick Freeman Ottofy came to Boalt Hall from Manila, The Philippines. After law school he went into private practice in Oakland. Jacques François Resleure arrived from Sydney, Australia, and later opened the law offices of Resleure and Light in San Francisco. When a young George Rosen left Russia, his home town was called Dorpat; today it is known as Tartu, Estonia. Though Rosen received his J.D. in 1917, the earliest alumni record in the Law School Archives lists him already as “Deceased.” His is a life story sadly lacking in documentation.

Two years later the Class of 1919 also drew students from around the globe. Kinuji Kobayashi came from Osaka, Japan and returned to his homeland after earning his law degree. Kobayashi’s J.D. dissertation compared the historical development of mining law in the United States with that of Japan. Christian Hoover Hanlin arrived from Manila, where he had been working as a missionary for the Presbyterian Church. After law school he went into private practice in Roseville. Leonard John Vanden Bergh hailed from Roosendaal, Holland, but he had an intense interest in the African continent. His J.D. thesis at Boalt Hall, The Legal Status of Women in Uganda (1919) was followed by On the Trail of the Pigmies: An Anthropological Exploration under the Cooperation of the American Museum of Natural History and American Universities (1921).

Sometimes the historical record is tantalizingly incomplete. Eugenia Katharina Burger, of Charlottenburg, Germany, was a graduate of the University of Berlin and received her J.D. from Boalt Hall in 1920. A memo from the Los Angeles office of the F.B.I. dated December 9, 1941 (two days after the attack on Pearl Harbor) reads, “The following German aliens have been apprehended....” and lists Burger along with twenty-three others who had been taken into custody. She had been living in Venice, California.

Of interest too are the people who passed through these halls briefly but left without earning a degree. The bits and pieces that can be reconstructed from their lives tell intriguing stories. Kate Brousseau earned a doctorate from the University of Paris in 1904 with a dissertation titled L’Éducation des Négres aux États-Unis, and then spent only the academic year 1913-14 at Boalt Hall. She left without a J.D., but in 1928 published a book with the unfortunate title of Mongolism, a Study of the Physical and Mental Characteristics of Mongolian Imbeciles.

Edvin Julius Carstein was a first-year student in the same class with Kate Brousseau, in his case arriving from Helsingfors (now Helsinki), Finland. He too left after only one year. He is listed in a 1917 San Francisco directory as pastor of the Swedish Finnish Baptist Church. In the 1920 Census he is living in Clatsop, Oregon, and later appears to have emigrated to British Columbia.

Before they were states, two U.S. territories provided Boalt Hall with students from what was considered “abroad” in those days. Huron Kanoelani Ashford of Honolulu was a law student during the 1916-17 academic year, and two years later Aaron Edward Rucker traveled from his home in Valdez, Alaska. Both left law school after their first year. Curtis Dion O’Sullivan, also a 1L during 1916-17, was from London, England. Though he spent only one year at Boalt Hall, he eventually settled in California, serving as a Major General in the California National Guard.

Finally, Luis Basilizo Tagorda of Santo Domingo, Philippine Islands enrolled in Boalt Hall for the 1918-19 academic year. Though he left after his first year, he returned to the Philippines and went into private practice in the province of Isabela.

And the tradition continues.

In the in-coming Class of 2016 that will arrive in August, there are students from Albania, Bulgaria, Canada, China (2), India (3), Kenya, Singapore, South Korea (4) and Turkey, as well as two from the United Kingdom. Motoyuki Negoro would, no doubt, be amazed.


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