Law school celebrates anniversary


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The University of Iowa College of Law opened its doors and began educating students a century and a half ago.

This year, the law school marks its 150-year birthday celebration through various events including an exhibit in the Old Capitol Museum.

“The exhibit has been very popular to people affiliated with the school,” said Kyle Norman, an Old Capitol tour guide.

Norman said even former UI President Willard “Sandy” Boyd, the law building’s eponym, stopped by the exhibit.

It is a celebration of the many achievements the law school has made in its 150 years of existence, said curator Trina Roberts.

Founded in 1865 in Des Moines, the law school moved to Iowa City in 1868; it is the oldest law school west of the Mississippi.

It became the first law school in the nation to have a female law student graduate when Mary Wilkinson received her bachelor of laws diploma in 1873.

A picture of the school’s first graduating class hangs in the exhibit and shows less than 15 graduates.  Today the law school receives almost 1,500 applications annually and goes on to approve nearly half of those.

After the law school moved to Iowa City, it went through many different buildings including Gilmore Hall and the Law Commons.

In 1986, the $25 million Boyd Law Building was completed; it now boasts the second-largest law library in the nation, said museum guide Taylor Finch.

Even the Old Capitol played host to the law school at one point, Roberts said.

“It’s really interesting to think of law students taking classes in this very same building many years ago,” she said.

The exhibit also showcases many cartoons by famed cartoonist Honoré Daumier on loan from the UI Museum of Art, Finch said.

Daumier was intrigued by law and based most of his cartoons around politicians and lawyers.

Roberts said Daumier’s work is seen as a bridge between art and law, which is why they thought it would make a great addition to the exhibit.

The celebration of the law school’s 150 years has not just been a worthwhile experience for the visitors but for the employees of the museum as well.

J.C. Gallett, who works at the museum, said the different exhibits — including the law-school exhibit — bring rewarding experiences to his workday.

“One day, you’re working spreadsheets, and the next day you’re showing off, or researching books and artifacts that are more than 100 years old,” he said.

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