Ask the Archivist


School Spirit?

Q: When the excavation for the new building started, a bunch of us joked that they would probably unearth an ancient Indian burial ground and the whole project would be scuttled. Did they find anything interesting during the dig? - DR, Berkeley

A. No ancient Indian burial grounds. No hidden pirate treasure. No golden tablets with the universal key to the bar exam. But the construction crew has reported a rather startling and unsettling phenomenon.

Work on the building continues round the clock, and several members of the graveyard shift have reported seeing the silent figure of a woman in a long black dress. She usually appears around 2:00 o’clock in morning, almost always on the third floor of the building. One worker saw her pass by the door of the room where he was working, heading for a corridor that he knew had been blocked by the construction. He immediately went to check the corridor, only to find it completely empty.

Another member of the construction crew, though she has not seen the woman herself, reports that her father — a custodian in the building during the 1960s — frequently mentioned catching glimpses of the ghostly figure of a woman in a black dress when he worked alone late at night.

Our building is of course too new to have housed women in Victorian clothing, but there were several homes on the property that were torn down in the early 1950s to make way for the construction. It is entirely possible that someone died in one of those houses at some point in its history, someone who (like a troubling number of our law students) has never quite managed to vacate the premises.

We take no position on this ectoplasmic disturbance, other than to point out that the construction crew appear to be sober at the end of their shifts when we arrive at 6:30 each morning, and to affirm our belief that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy. 


Bancroft and Piedmont


Have a question?  Ask the Archivist: benemann@law.berkeley.edu

2/10/2011