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Centre College Law School

Collection Outline

The College of Law actually had its roots in both Central University (Richmond) and Centre College. Both institutions started law schools in hopes of enticing their undergraduates to continue their professional studies at the respective schools. Central University (Richmond), a college whose law school had been suspended when its law faculty, who were also practicing attorneys, left the university, saw its school reborn in 1898 with William Chenault as Dean.

The Danville Law School was established in 1894 with ex-Governor J. Proctor Knott as its head. Joining Knott were Robert P. Jacobs and John W. Yerkes. Jacobs and Yerkes were later succeeded by Robert T. Quisenberry and Charles H. Rodes. Knott remained head of the law school until failing health forced him to retire in June 1901.

During the same summer the consolidation of Centre College and Central University led to the establishment in Danville of a single law school to be known as the College of Law of Central University. Thomas P. Hill served as temporary dean until June 1902 when Archibald Hall Throckmorton was elected dean. Throckmorton was credited with re-organizing the school, revising the curriculum, and obtaining new quarters. Thomas Victor Williams took the office of dean in September 1911. In July, Central's Board of Trustees voted to suspend operations at the law school.

The College of Law was located in Old Centre - first in the North wing, later in the South wing. The recitation hall was on the first floor, and the law library on the second. The school offered a two year course, with the first year students studying substantial law, and second year students studying procedure, The school also maintained a moot court and a debating society. Perhaps the most famous graduate of the College of Law was Frederick Moore Vinson, class of 1911, who served as a member of Congress from Kentucky from 1923 to 1929 and 1931 to 1938, and as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1946 to 1953.

Collection Description

This small collection yields some additional information on Centre's law school students through matriculation records, and provides some insights into the operation of department proceedings through the reports preserved in Series B, Folder 2. For more thorough information, however, researchers are advised to consult Law School catalogs and the general Centre College catalogs.

Collection Inventory
Series A Miscellaneous Volumes
Volume 1Records of Boyle practice court sessions, 1895-1907
Volume 2Law school matriculation records, 1894-1912
Volume 3Catalogue, 1906-1907
Volume 4Catalogue, 1907-1908
Volume 5Catalogue, 1909-1910
Volume 6Catalogue, 1910-1911