Ask the Archivist

archivist avatarLaw school archivist William Benemann, now retired, answered questions about law school history in the “Ask the Archivist” project, 2010-2014.

  • Post Omnem Virum…* (9/4/2014)
    Q. My mother was given the enclosed diploma when my father graduated from Boalt Hall in 1962. Is this still a practice? (I doubt it.) –LP, Belle Fourche, SD
  • By Any Other Name (7/16/2014)
    I recently ran across an old map of the campus from the late 1940s. On it Boalt Hall was labeled as “Joaquin Hall.” Was that an earlier name for the law school? –IS, Albany
  • Our Pushful Yanks (1/28/2014)
    Q. How many Boalt Hall students or faculty have been Rhodes Scholars? –BC, Oakland
  • Women in Sacramento (12/16/2013)
    Q. When was the first woman graduate of Boalt Hall elected to the California Legislature? –AL, Oakland
  • Blood Started Out of His Mouth and Nose (9/18/2013)
    Q. We recently uncovered this print in a storage closet at Boalt. Is it something valuable? –LF, Berkeley
  • To Live in the World (8/16/2013)
    Q. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the history of the Disability Rights Movement at Berkeley and the name Jacobus tenBroek keeps coming up. I think he has a Boalt Hall connection. What can you tell me about him? –LJ, Berkeley
  • Far Away Long Ago (7/19/2013)
    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
  • Brain Trust Brawler (6/18/2013)
    Q. The year 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the creation of the National Recovery Administration, one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s early New Deal agencies. General Hugh S. Johnson, a graduate of Berkeley Law, was the first head of the NRA…
  • A Bear’s Story (5/23/2013)
    Q. I met you when I visited the law school with my son to see the Benny Bufano bear that was a memorial to my uncle, Martin Bordon, Class of 1948…
  • A Whole ‘Nother Ball Game (4/15/2013)
    Q. My brother and I are both huge sports history buffs, so we were surprised on a recent visit to the law school to see that there is a Walter Perry Johnson faculty chair (currently held by Bob Berring). How did that happen? –GR, Berkeley
  • Deans and Prima Donnas (3/15/2013)
    Q. As a lapsed Art History major, I love the Botero paintings outside the Dean’s Office, but I also miss the classic portrait of William Carey Jones that used to hang there. I’ve often wondered about the artist. Was he someone well-known? –MB, Berkeley
  • Whatever Happened To… (2/19/2013)
    Q. Are there any documents explaining the demise of the Earl Warren Legal Center? –WW, Berkeley
  • The Dean and the Pathfinder (1/15/2013)
    Q: I just read that William Carey Jones, the first dean of Boalt Hall, was the brother-in-law of the explorer John C. Frémont. Can that possibly be true? — RM, Berkeley
  • Law School Utopian (12/13/2012)
    Q. What is your favorite book written by a Boalt Hall faculty member? I don’t mean a casebook or a textbook, but maybe a good novel? Are there any? –EW, Berkeley
  • Boalt’s Money (11/16/2012)
    Q. How did the Boalts make their money? Were they like robber barons or something? – JPM, Berkeley
  • Guns in the Classroom (10/18/2012)
    Q. I’m always taken aback when I hear about violence on college campuses these days. Everyone seems to be waving guns around. Am I kidding myself in remembering that things were more peaceful in the 1950s when I was at Boalt? –TW, Century City
  • First Asian Woman (9/18/2012)
    Q. Who was the first Asian woman to graduate from Boalt Hall? — M.B., Oakland
  • Thanks to Boalt (8/30/2012)
    Q. While cleaning out a storage space in the law school we ran across a heavy metal plaque dedicated to Elizabeth Josselyn Boalt. What can you tell us about it? –L.F., Berkeley
  • Suing for the Pious (4/26/2012)
    Q: O.K., so I’m sitting in the reading room trying to study and this huge painting of an old dude is staring down at me. I’m assuming this is Garrett McEnerney, the guy the library is named for. Was he a famous alum? Professor? – T.S., Berkeley
  • When the Great Communicator Communicated (3/21/2012)
    Q. A buddy bets me that Ronald Reagan spoke at Boalt Hall when he was governor of California. I was at Boalt in the Sixties and there is no way he would have ever showed his face on campus. Please confirm. –DCC, San Jose
  • Two Cheers for Boalt Hall (2/28/2012)
  • Professorial Hi-jinx (1/25/2012)
    Q. Boalt students love to pull pranks on fellow student—has a professor ever pulled a good one? – GC, Berkeley
  • Every Table Tells a Story (11/22/2011)
    Q. The new library is awesome! Totally awesome! I particularly like the study tables in the reading rooms. Someone said that they were really old. Where did they come from? – LL, Oakland
  • Peeving POTUS (9/8/2011)
    Q: I collect old law books, though I don’t have any that are tremendously valuable. I’m really more interested in stories connected with the books than with the contents. Do you have any rare books in the Archives that have great stories to tell? – WRH
  • Cupid Laughs at Law Books (4/20/2011)
    Q. Do Boalt Hall professors ever marry their law students? (I’m just asking.) – C.E., Berkeley
  • Women at Boalt (3/24/2011)
    Q: Who are the women in the class photos in the Donor Lobby? Were they students, and if so, what did they do with their careers? TC, Berkeley
  • School Spirit? (2/10/2011)
    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
  • Decking Boalt’s Halls (12/17/2010)
    Q: Your column about Boalt Christmas carols reminded me of another old tradition. Does the law school still put on the annual Christmas Show?
  • Legal Wassailing (11/16/2010)
  • Can We Handle the Truth? (10/27/2010)
  • Tables (Re)Turned (8/20/2010)
    Q. Thanks for your column on the former law libraries. Has anything historic survived from those buildings (other than the books, I mean)? DNJ, Danville
  • The Birth of the Law Library (7/19/2010)
    Q. Just saw the drawings for the new law library. Very cool. Got me thinking about the first law library, the one that’s now Durant Hall. How did Boalt’s library get started?
  • What happened to the old houses on the Boalt parking lot?  (6/28/2010)
    Q. There used to be two cute little Victorian houses on the Boalt Hall parking lot. When I was over there the other day, they were both gone. What happened to them? – WCJ, Oakland
  • Memorable Graduation Speakers (5/20/2010)
    Q: Now that it’s graduation season, I was wondering, who would be considered the most unusual speaker ever invited to a Boalt Hall graduation? – B.B., San Francisco
  • Women at Boalt (4/14/2010)
    Q: When did Boalt Hall first start admitting women to the law school?
  • Was Boalt Hall Rotated? (3/30/2010)
    Q: I’ve heard that Boalt Hall was originally designed so that the Reading Room windows faced the bay, but that the building had to be rotated on its axis in order to fit on a smaller lot. Is that true?