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William Draper Lewis Papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center [Contact Us]3401 Market Street, Suite 210, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

William Draper Lewis was born in Philadelphia in 1867, the son of Henry and Fannie Hannah Wilson Lewis. He attended the Germantown Academy and then Haverford College, receiving a B.S. in 1888. In 1891 he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a LL.B. and Ph.D. During his student years, Lewis lectured at Haverford College on economics and at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School on legal historical institutions. In 1892 he became editor of the American Law Register, one of the oldest legal periodicals of the time. He resigned these posts in 1896 when appointed Professor of law and Dean of the Law School.

As the Dean of the Law School he worked at expanding the school and in 1900 the present building on the Penn campus was erected. Aside from physical plant improvements, he advocated for the appointment of full-time law teacher dedicated to instruction and scholarly contributions; he persuaded the publishers of the American Law Register to turn over the magazine to the University; he broadened the curriculum of the Law School; and he strengthened the collections of the Biddle Law Library. Ultimately these revolutionary academic, organizational, and physical facility improvements brought the Law School into the first rank of legal institutions in the United States. He served as Dean until 1914 but continued on the faculty until 1924 when the pressure of his work as director of the American Law Institute forced him to resign.

In addition to his advances in academia, Lewis made significant contributions to the field of law. In 1923 he was elected as the first chairman of the Penal Reform Society of Pennsylvania. He authored many articles, some of which include: "Federal Power over Commerce and Its Effects on State Action," Our Sheep and the Tariff," and "Restraint and Infringement of Incorporated Rights." He edited many works among them his own editions of "Greenleaf's Evidence," "Wharton's Criminal Law," and "Blackstone's Commentaries." Lewis, the founding director of the American Law Institute, worked at publishing restatements of the common law which would serve as the authoritative compendium of the American Law as it then existed. He served as director until ill health forced his retirement in 1947.

He had become highly involved with the Progressive Party by 1912, unsuccessfully running for the Governorship of Pennsylvania. He served as the chairman of the platform committee of the first and second Progressive National Conventions in Chicago in 1912 and 1916. His liberal political attitudes were recognized in 1918 with his appointment as the chair of the commission to draft a Public Utility Regulation Law for Pennsylvania. He also served as secretary of the commission appointed in 1920 to draft a revised State Constitution. Lewis died in 1949.

This collection is particularly rich for researchers interested in the early career of William Draper Lewis. His association with the University of Pennsylvania is well documented. There is very little, however, for his later years and virtually nothing on his involvement in Progressive politics or the organization of the American Law Institute.

Loose correspondence and letterpress books make up the bulk of the collection. His correspondence is largely professional in nature, but there is a good sampling of personal correspondence. The personal letters cover a range of topics including: fund raising for Haverford College, family letters, renting property in Bar Harbor ME, and other personal matters. His professional correspondence address his teaching and administrative career with the University of Pennsylvania and legal correspondence regarding particular cases. His scholarly contributions and publications are discussed in his letters. Correspondence with George Wharton Pepper proliferates. In addition to being close friends the two edited the Digest of Decisions together. There are many letters from George E. Nitzsche, the Registrar for the Law School, and later Recorder for the University.

Five cases constitute the legal files. They include: Smallberger v. Pennsylvania Railroad, United Gas Improvement Co. v. Northwestern Ice Manufacturing Co., Anselmo Susanich, Hollis v. Brown, and the Philadelphia Election Case. There are letters, decrees, rulings, plaintiff's and appellant's points, receipts, accounts, statements, affidavits, briefs, notes, motions, arguments, and other miscellaneous paperwork associated with the legal work. There is a small group of manuscripts; the titles of which include: "The Borderlands of Federal and State Legislation," Cases on Law of Association, Cases on Specific Performance, "Fallacies of Free Trade," "How an American City Can Become a Modern Municipality," "On Free Trade," "On Fundamental Ideas," "Our Sheep and the Tariff," and "The Principles of the Two Great Parties." There are also lecture notes on all phases of law and government. Finally, there are a few speeches delivered from 1895 until 1946.

The William Draper Lewis Papers are organized into four series: Correspondence, Legal, Manuscripts/Writings, Lectures, and Speeches. The Correspondence series is arranged chronologically and the other series alphabetically.

This collection was transferred from the Law School on January 3, 1968. The loose correspondence was salvaged from a flood in the mechanical rooms of the Biddle Law Library and transferred on February 13, 1991. The collection was reprocessed in April, 1991.

University of Pennsylvania: University Archives and Records Center
Finding Aid Author
Theresa R. Snyder
Finding Aid Date
April 1991
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Collection Inventory

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Box 1 Folder 1
Box 1 Folder 2
Box 1 Folder 3
Box 1 Folder 4
Box 1 Folder 5
Jan.-Feb. 1901.
Box 1 Folder 6
Mar.-Apr. 1901.
Box 1 Folder 7
May-June 1901.
Box 1 Folder 8
Box 1 Folder 9
Aug. 1901.
Box 1 Folder 10
Sept. 1901.
Box 1 Folder 11
Oct.-Dec. 1901.
Box 1 Folder 12
Box 1 Folder 13
Jan.-Feb. 1902.
Box 1 Folder 14
Mar. 1902.
Box 1 Folder 15
Apr. 1902.
Box 1 Folder 16
May-June 1902.
Box 1 Folder 17
July-Dec. 1902.
Box 1 Folder 18
Box 1 Folder 19
Box 1 Folder 20
Box 1 Folder 21
Box 1 Folder 22
Jan.-Mar. 1905.
Box 1 Folder 23
Apr.-May 1905.
Box 1 Folder 24
Box 1 Folder 25
Box 1 Folder 26
Aug. 1905.
Box 1 Folder 27
Sept.-Dec. 1905.
Box 1 Folder 28
Box 1 Folder 29
Box 1 Folder 30
Box 1 Folder 31
Dec. 15, 1891-Oct. 29, 1894.
Box 1
Oct. 30, 1894-Mar. 6, 1895.
Box 1
Mar. 7, 1895-June 21, 1895.
Box 1
June 21, 1895-Oct. 30, 1895.
Box 1
Oct. 30, 1895-Dec. 7, 1895.
Box 1
Dec. 7, 1895-Jan. 11, 1896.
Box 2
Jan. 3, 1898-Mar. 1899.
Box 2
Mar. 13, 1899-June 26, 1901.
Box 2
June 28, 1901-Apr. 3, 1903.
Box 2
May 23, 1905-May 23, 1907.
Box 2
May 24, 1907-June 10, 1908.
Box 2
Scrapbook, 1906-1926.
Box 2

Correspondence and Subpoenas.
Box 3 Folder 1
Plaintiff's Points.
Box 3 Folder 2
Appellant's Points.
Box 3 Folder 3
Box 3 Folder 4
Box 3 Folder 5
United Gas Improvement Co. v. Northwestern Ice Manufacturing Co., 1891-1892 -- Memoranda and notes.
Box 3 Folder 6
United Gas Improvement Co. v. Northwestern Ice Manufacturing Co., 1891-1892 -- Report of Auditor.
Box 3 Folder 7
United Gas Improvement Co. v. Northwestern Ice Manufacturing Co., 1891-1892 -- Accounts.
Box 3 Folder 8
Susanich, Anselmo, 1891-1895 -- Receipts and accounts.
Box 3 Folder 9
Susanich, Anselmo, 1891-1895 -- Correspondence, 1893-1895.
Box 3 Folder 10
Susanich, Anselmo, 1891-1895 -- Insurance, 1892-1894.
Box 3 Folder 11
Box 3 Folder 12
Lease and correspondence between Hollis and Cope.
Box 3 Folder 13
Statements, affidavits, and appeal.
Box 3 Folder 14
Miscellaneous notes.
Box 3 Folder 15
Precedent setting cases, 1843-1885 -- notes.
Box 3 Folder 16
Box 3 Folder 17
Morris, Paschall H. -- Will, 1893.
Box 3 Folder 18
Box 3 Folder 19
Decrees, rulings.
Box 3 Folder 21
Correspondence, subpoenas.
Box 3 Folder 20
Box 3 Folder 22
Motions, arguments.
Box 3 Folder 23
Contestant's and Appellee's Paper Book, testimony and proceedings.
Box 3 Folder 24
Separate Opinions.
Box 3 Folder 25
Box 3 Folder 26

The Borderlands of Federal and State Legislation.
Box 3 Folder 27
Cases on Law of Association, 1910.
Box 3 Folder 28
Cases on Specific Performance, 1903.
Box 3 Folder 29
Fallacies of Free Trade.
Box 3 Folder 30
Federal Power over Commerce.
Box 3 Folder 31
How an American City Can Become a Modern Municipality.
Box 3 Folder 32
Law School.
Box 3 Folder 33
On Free Trade.
Box 3 Folder 34
On Fundamental Ideas.
Box 3 Folder 35
["Our Sheep and the Tariff"].
Box 3 Folder 36
["Our Sheep and the Tariff"].
Box 3 Folder 37
The Principles of the Two Great Parties.
Box 3 Folder 38

Biddle's Torts.
Box 3 Folder 39
Definitions of Remoteness -- notes.
Box 3 Folder 40
[Complete Digest of Parson's Laws] -- notes.
Box 3 Folder 41
Box 3 Folder 42
Box 3 Folder 43
Duties Connected with the Armies -- notes.
Box 3 Folder 44
Estate and Trusts -- Cases.
Box 3 Folder 45
Box 3 Folder 46
Box 3 Folder 47
False Imprisonment.
Box 3 Folder 48
Justification for Assault and Battery.
Box 3 Folder 49
Loss of Service, Child and Servant.
Box 3 Folder 50
McColloch v. Maryland.
Box 3 Folder 51
Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Politics -- Outlines.
Box 3 Folder 52
Pennsylvania Government.
Box 3 Folder 53
Philadelphia Government.
Box 3 Folder 54
Philadelphia Government -- Executive Powers.
Box 3 Folder 55
Philadelphia Government -- Public Works.
Box 3 Folder 56
Political Economy.
Box 4 Folder 1
Rights of Things.
Box 4 Folder 2
Stephens on Pleading.
Box 4 Folder 3
Trespass -- Real and personal.
Box 4 Folder 4
United States Constitution.
Box 4 Folder 5
United States Government -- Outlines.
Box 4 Folder 6
Untied States Government -- Congress.
Box 4 Folder 7
United States Government -- Executive Office.
Box 4 Folder 8
United States Government -- Judicial.
Box 4 Folder 9
United States Government -- Departments.
Box 4 Folder 10

Box 4 Folder 11
Box 4 Folder 12
1944-1946, n.d.
Box 4 Folder 13
Miscellaneous -- Marriage License, 1892.
Box 4 Folder 14

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