From the Cornerstone: What Can We Learn From Great Minds of 1958?

Author: 
Marsha Ferziger Nagorsky

As we mentioned in the last issue of the Record, the Law School opened two time capsules in Fall 2009 that had been interred in the cornerstone of our building. The cornerstone and its contents were laid on May 28, 1958, and were intended to be opened 50 years later.

While we were a bit late in opening it, we were quite pleased with what we found. Two sealed copper boxes were inside, one containing the contents of the original 1903 cornerstone time capsule of Stuart Hall (the home of the Law School from 1903-1959) and one containing items from 1958. The 1903 box held photographs of the first faculty members of the Law School, several newspapers announcing the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt at the laying of the 1903 cornerstone, and a variety of documents related to the first year of the Law School's existence. One of those documents, the annual Announcements (which we still publish today) contained the Law School's very first schedule of classes, which is reproduced here.

The contents of the 1958 cornerstone included some relatively mundane items, such as the 1958 alumni magazine, a program from the laying of the 1958 cornerstone, and a small newspaper clipping from the Chicago Tribune. The treasure in this box was a set of a dozen letters from luminaries of the time, requested by Edward Levi. Then-Dean Levi had asked the authors, as quoted in the response from Judge Learned Hand, to write a comment on the "conditions concerning the administration of justice, the economic order, the conditions of security and freedom, or the international order." The letters were from five Supreme Court Justices-William J. Brennan, Tom C. Clark, William O. Douglas, John M. Harlan, and Charles E. Whittaker-plus District and Circuit Court Judge Hand; newspaper magnates Orvil Dryfoos, Publisher of the New York Times, and Don Maxwell, Editor of the Chicago Tribune; scientist Edward Teller; Professor Carl Joachim Friedrich of the University of Heidelberg and Harvard; philosopher Jacques Maritain; and Roscoe Pound of Harvard Law School.

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