University of Pennsylvania Law School Sesquicentennial History

1740 Benjamin Franklin founds the University of Pennsylvania
1790 James Wilson begins law lectures at the College of Philadelphia Academy Building on Arch and 4th Streets
1850 Penn establishes a law department in a building at Chestnut and 9th Streets
George Sharswood (1810-1883) is named the first professor of law.
1852 George Sharswood named first dean.
University Trustees establish a Faculty of Law.
LL.B. degree awarded to 30 students.
American Law Register (as of 1908 the Law Review) is first published.
It is the second oldest continuously published legal periodical in the nation.
1868 Law professor Elihu Spencer Miller (1817-1879) is named Dean.
1874 E. Copée Mitchell C'1885 (1836-1886) is named Dean.
First daytime classes are scheduled.
The faculty is expanded to five positions.
1878 American Bar Association is founded.
1881 Sharswood Law Club is formed to conduct Moot Courts as an exercise to learn courtroom skills. Students argue cases before a faculty member and an audience of student spectators.
Carrie Burnham Kilgore L'1883 (1838-1909) is the first woman admitted to Penn Law.
1887 George Tucker Bispham C'1856, L'1861 (1838-1906) is named Dean.
The George Biddle Memorial Library is established with an estate gift and a bequest of 5,087 volumes from the brother of Professor Algernon Sidney Biddle.
The Biddle family makes continuous donations to the collection for years to come.
1888 C. S. Patterson C'1860 (1842-1924) is named Dean.
Admissions standards are established.
Degree program expands to three years.
Professor Algernon S. Biddle introduces the case method at Penn Law.
Aaron Albert Mossell is the first black man to graduate from Penn Law.
1891 Law Alumni Society is established.
1894 Biddle Professorship is the first endowed chair established at Penn Law and the only one until 1930.
1895 G. S. Harrison is named interim Dean of Law School.
1896 William Draper Lewis (1867-1949) is named Dean.
1897 Classes are held in Congress Hall in downtown Philadelphia.
William Ephraim Mikell is hired as the first full-time professor.
Development Campaign begins to raise $373,500 for the purchase of land in West Philadelphia and the construction of the Law School Building. Major benefactors include Thomas McKean, the Price family, and Mrs. George W. Biddle.
1898 Margaret Center Klingelsmith L'1898 (1859-1931) begins 34-year career as head librarian of Biddle Library.
LL.M. degree is first offered.
Cope & Stewardson Architects begin construction of the Law School Building.
1900 Law School Building is dedicated and feted in ceremonies over two days in February. Attendees include U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, representativesfrom Cambridge and Oxford, and China's Ambassador to the United States.
AALS is founded.
1901 John Marshall Law Club for women is started.
1902 Seven law clubs are active.
1909 The Law Department is renamed and structured as the School of Law.
1914 Law professor William Ephraim Mikell is named Dean.
1916 U.S. enters World War. Of 309 students that join the military, 25 are killed and 13 are wounded.
1918 U.S. Naval personnel commandeer rooms of Law School Building for study, training, and physical education of military.
1919 Law School graduates only 13 students.
1923 William Draper Lewis is force behind the establishment of the American Law Institute. He is named its first director and it is located at Penn Law.
1927 Sadie Turner Mossell (Alexander) is the first black woman to graduate from Penn Law School.
1929 Herbert Funk Goodrich (1889-1962) is named Dean.
1941 Law professor Edwin R. Keedy (1880-1958) is named Dean.
1945 Earl G. Harrison C'20, L'23 (1899-1955) is named Dean from Truman Administration.
1948 Owen J. Roberts C'1895, L'1898 (1975-1955) retires from U.S. Supreme Court and is named Dean.
1952 Jefferson Barnes Fordham (1905-1997) is named Dean.
1955 Law School undertakes $2.5 million fundraising campaign for facilities.
1957 A. Leo Levin introduces the course Trial of an Issue of Fact and holds class seminars at his home.
1958 Roberts and Pepper dormitories and Stern dining hall open.
1963 The new wings of Roberts and Pepper Halls are opened on site of former tennis courts. Attendees at opening include U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren and Associate Justices William J. Brennan, Jr. and John Marshall Harlan.
The Goat sculpture, Hsieh-Chai, is installed at point of intersection.
1968 Twelve of 26 faculty members, along with 137 students sign an anti-war statement circulated throughout American law schools. Student activists write "Proposal for Change" advocating for reforms in faculty teaching methods and curriculum.
JD/M.C.P. degree is first offered.
1969 The Law School opens up faculty meetings to include two student representatives.
Martha Alschuler Field is the first woman to join faculty.
Robert A. Gorman conducts research and survey that results in massive curriculum reform proposal.
Edward V. Sparer joins faculty and starts Health Law Project.
1970 Law professor Bernard Wolfman (1924- ) is named Dean.
The Law School Building is renovated and renamed Lewis Hall.
Black Law Students Union (BLSU) is formed.
JD/MBA degree is first offered.
1972 Student representatives are given voting power at faculty meetings.
1973 Mark Spiegel becomes first director of Clinical Program.
1974 Hon. A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., joins adjunct faculty and introduces his course Race, Racism, and American Law.
1975 Louis H. Pollak (1922- ) is named Dean.
Nancy Bregstein L'76 is named first woman editor-in-chief of the Law Review.
Ralph Smith is first black man to join faculty.
1977 Regina Austin L'73 is first black woman to join faculty.
1979 Law professor James O. Freedman (1935- ) is named Dean.
1982 Law professor Robert H. Mundheim (1933- ) is named Dean.
1985 Public Service requirement established for second- and third-year students.
1989 Colin S. Diver (1943- ) is named Dean.
70-hour mandatory public service requirement is established.
Penn undertakes $1 billion capital campaign.
Law School surpasses $45 million goal by forty percent.
1992 Roberts and Pepper dormitories and Stern dining hall are demolished to make room for Tanenbaum Hall.
1993 Nicole E. Tanenbaum Hall is dedicated and opened. Funded with a gift from Myles Tanenbaum W'52, L'57, the building houses the Biddle Library, student journal offices, seminar and class rooms, and a cafeteria.
1995 Howard Gittis W'55, L'58 funds the renovation of the first floor of Lewis Hall to provide professional offices for the Clinical Program.
1998 Institute for Law and Philosophy is established.
Henry Silverman L'64 makes gift of $15 million, at the time the largest outright gift ever to an American law school. The gift funds renovations of Lewis Hall and provides for a professorship, legal research, and scholarships.
2000 Law professor Michael A. Fitts (1953- ) is named Dean.
Lewis Hall is re-dedicated as Silverman Hall after two-year renovation.
Levy Conference Center funded by Paul (L'72) and Karen Levy is opened in the former Sharswood Hall offering a multi-media conference and meeting facility

The timeline is from the Penn Law Journal Fall 2000 Sesquicentennial issue. For more information about the Sesquicentennial see the website For more information about the Law School visit


Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 12, November 14, 2000

| FRONT PAGE | CONTENTS | JOB-OPS | CRIMESTATS | SENATE: Proposed Policy: Copyrights & Commitment of Effort for Faculty | PENN LAW: Sesquicentennial | BENCHMARKS: Law School History | PENNs WAY 2001: Week 2 | TALK ABOUT TEACHING ARCHIVE | BETWEEN ISSUES | NOVEMBER at PENN |