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Washington State Legal History Collections

Updated June 21, 2013.
Prepared by Mary Whisner for Legal History Seminar, Prof. Walter J. Walsh, and annotated by Lisa Wagenheim, reference intern, summer 2001.

The year 2001 marked the centennial of the first graduating class of the University of Washington School of Law. In celebration, the Gallagher Law Library has compiled a list of sources that contain historical information about the Washington legal community and the University of Washington Law School that are available in the Library. Below is an annotated list of those resources. The historical collection can be a useful tool for academic and practitioner-focused research as well as a rich set of resources for tracing the careers of family members or colleagues.

Washington State Bench & Bar Collection

Arthur S. BeardsleyArthur Beardsley was the head law librarian at the University of Washington School of Law from 1922 to1944.

Dr. Beardsley was a lawyer, a librarian, and an historian. In 1939, Arthur Beardsley and Judge Donald A. McDonald began collecting newspaper clippings and photographs of Washington State lawyers and judges in an attempt to compile a history of Washington State's legal community. Dr. Beardsley used the detailed research to write a manuscript about Washington's legal history. The result of this meticulous research was a 42-chapter manuscript called The Bench and Bar of Washington: The First Fifty Years, 1849-1900. This work was never published, but the Gallagher Law Library has a copy of the manuscript.

Dr. Beardsley preserved the materials that he used to write his manuscript, and the Gallagher Law Library has continued to preserve these materials both in bound volumes and file folders.

Arthur Beardsley's contribution to the preservation of Washington State's legal history is significant. The Bench and Bar clippings and files can be useful for families of past Washington State lawyers and judges, who are interested in understanding their relative's contribution to the legal community. The clippings and files are also useful tools for scholarly research regarding Washington State legal history.

Bench & Bar Files
What Files with letters, clippings, photos, etc., relating to Washington State attorneys and judges (mostly 1960s and earlier). Contents vary widely. Filed by name.
Where File cabinets in a nonpublic area.
Finding Tool Brandy Whittington, Index to the Washington Bench & Bar Clippings (1999), KF354.W3 W37 Index at Reference Area and Reference Office; index is also available at (also linked from catalog record for Index to the Washington Bench & Bar Clippings). Please read the compiler's notes before looking at the index. Please note: this index only includes information about the files folders and does not include information about the bound volumes.
Access Request files at the Circulation Desk.
Notes Many of the Bench and Bar file folders contain newspaper clippings, photographs, and correspondence between Arthur Beardsley and lawyers or relatives of lawyers. The contents in the files are not permanently affixed to the file folders. All material is loose and some of the files are empty or sparse.


Washington Bench & Bar Clippings
What Bound volumes with newspaper clippings relating to Washington attorneys and judges. 143 volumes cover 1850-1979, generally in chronological order. Most of the volumes cover the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Volumes are arranged by year, part, and page number.
Where A nonpublic area.
Finding Tool Card file in the Reference Area, arranged by name. Look for citations with the format: 1959 pt.2:165. (Some cards have citations with Roman numerals; these are from an earlier indexing system and are no longer retrievable.)
Access Request volumes at the Circulation Desk.

The bound volumes contain clippings from more than a century. Many of the volumes are in poor condition and must be handled with great care.

In addition to the Bench and Bar Clippings, researchers interested in individuals and events in Washington history might want to use the Pacific Northwest Regional Newspaper and Periodical Index. Originally begun as a card file in 1936, this database covers newspapers, pamphlets, and other materials from the 1850s to present. It is maintained by the University of Washington Libraries - Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives.

Access to the Washington State Bench & Bar Collection

The Gallagher Law Library's Washington State Bench and Bar Collection consists of file folders and bound volumes that are located in nonpublic areas for preservation purposes. The staff of Circulation Services provides access by retrieving the clippings and files. Retrieval requests may be submitted at the Circulation Desk on L1. A list of names in the file folders is available online and in the Reference Area and the Reference Office (call number KF354 .W3 W37). The names in the bound volumes are only available in the printed card catalog in the Reference Area.

Visitors who want to use the Bench and Bar materials should register at the Circulation Desk. Patrons must leave an ID as security. Patrons must personally return the Bench and Bar materials to staff at the Circulation Desk.

Access to the Bench and Bar materials is also provided through the fee-based Copy & Send service.


Arthur S. Beardsley's Histories

Arthur Beardsley had a long-term scholarly interest in the history of the bar in Washington which led to the bench and bar collections described above. Products of that research include:

Arthur S. Beardsley, The Bench and Bar of Washington: The First Fifty years, 1849-1900. (Manuscript written between 1940 and 1944)
KF354.W3 B43 at Special Collections / Rare Folio
3 boxes. Manuscript (typescript) in acid-free boxes. Library has manuscript and a photocopy. Manuscript is in four boxes; photocopy is in three.

Access: Ask for assistance at the Circulation Desk.

Arthur Beardsley Papers: First Draft Manuscript, Etc. Arthur Beardsley's Correspondence Regarding Old Washington Attorneys and Judges: Letters Dated 1942 [i.e. 1941] and 1943.
KF354.W3 B44 at Special Collections / Rare Folio
Folio. 2 boxes. Papers include first draft manuscript of his Bench and Bar of Washington and correspondence regarding early Washington attorneys and judges dated 1941 to 1943. Chiefly onionskin carbon copy.

Access: Request volumes at the Circulation Desk.

The Bench and Bar of Washington, the First Fifty Years, 1849-1900, by Arthur S. Beardsley. The Compilation of a Preliminary Index to Personal Names of Part One (1959). 101 p. Thesis (M.L.S.)--University of Washington.
KF354.W3 B43 Index at Special Collections / Rare Folio

Access: Ask for assistance at the Circulation Desk.

Arthur S. Beardsley, The Codes and Code Makers of Washington, 1889-1937 (1939). "Reprinted from Pacific Northwest Quarterly, volume 30, no. 1, January,1939." Available on JSTOR (UW Restricted)
KFW78.8.C6 B43 1939 at Classified Stacks and Special Collections / Washington.

Arthur S. Beardsley, Compiling the Territorial Codes of Washington (1937). "Reprinted from the Pacific Northwest Quarterly, volume 28, number 1." Available on JSTOR (UW Restricted)
KFW78.8.C6 B44 1937 at Classified Stacks and Special Collections / Washington.


Other Special Indexes

In addition to the Washington Bench and Bar Clippings, there are four other card files in the Reference Area that provide access to information about Washington lawyers and associations. Each file is arranged in alphabetical order by name. The Gallagher Law Library also has other sources for information about the Washington State legal community.

Index Photos Numerical. Refers to a collection of numbered photographs. Not retrievable at this time.

Indexed Biographies. Refers to sources other than the Washington State Bench and Bar Collection, including the Roll of Attorneys in Washington Reports.

Washington State Bar Association proceedings. Available in Classified Stacks.

  • Report of Proceedings, 1894-1927. KF332.W3 W31
  • Proceedings, 1930-71). KF332.W3 W312
  • Note: proceedings were not produced after 1971.

Vital Cases. Refers to defining Washington cases in the reporters (e.g., Washington Reports). Reporter volumes available in the Reference Area (and other locations).



The Gallagher Law Library has a collection of briefs from the Washington Territorial Court, Washington State Courts, the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, and the United States Supreme Court. For a list of briefs, formats, and locations, see the Briefs and Oral Arguments guide.


A Few General Tips

Remember to use general library resources. For example:

Old volumes of the Washington State Bar News could contain valuable information about lawyers, the bar, and legal developments. Articles about Washington legal history might be published anytime. For instance, an article on the history of official court reporting in Washington appeared in the Nov. 2005 issue of the Washington State Bar News (Tim Fuller, "The Most Accurate and Useful Law Books Possible": Wash.Terr., Wash., Wn.2d, and Wn.App--Milestones of Office Case Reporting in Washington, Washington State Bar News, Nov. 2005, at 22).
KF332.W3W354 at Classified Stacks & HeinOnline [UW Restricted]

Old volumes of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory will give you biographical information about lawyers and the make-up of their law firms.
KF190.M3 at Compact Stacks

Treatises and practice manuals from a given period will tell you about the state of the law at that time. (Note: in the Library catalog, you can conduct a keyword or subject search and then limit your results to books published within a certain span of years.

The Law Library has many publications from the Law School-professors' course materials, student papers, annual reports, accreditation self-study reports, course catalogs, alumni publications, etc. (Some materials-such as faculty meeting minutes-are in University Archives.) Search the Library catalog for "University of Washington. School of Law" as an author or browse the Classified Stacks under KF282.W33.

Mary A. Hotchkiss, ed., University of Washington School of Law: Celebrating 100 Years (a special issue of Profile) contains essays about the history of the School of Law.
KF292.W33 A54 v.11 at Reference Area and Special Collections / Washington

If you want to locate cases where a particular attorney was counsel of record, use the following searches:

Other University of Washington libraries, especially Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives will have valuable information for local history (including legal history!).


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