Inventory of the Papers of Frances Farmer Farmer, Frances, PapersMSS 93-1

Inventory of the Papers of Frances Farmer

A Collection in
The Arthur J. Morris Law Library, Special Collections
Collection Number MSS 93-1


University of Virginia, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

Special Collections
Arthur J. Morris Law Library
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
Phone: (434) 924-3023
Fax: (434) 924-7238

© 2010 By the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Cecilia Brown
December 1993

Special Collections, University of Virginia Law Library
Collection number
MSS 93-1
Inventory of the Papers of Frances Farmer
Physical Characteristics
Six boxes plus numerous photographs and oversized items
The papers of Frances Farmer, Law Librarian at the University of Virginia from 1942-1976, consist of her personal and professional correspondence and other documents, ca. 1930-1992. The collections of 4 boxes of documents (2 linear feet), memorabilia, and dozens of photographs was transmitted to the Law Library upon her death in September of 1993.

Administrative Information


There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Inventory of the Papers of Frances Farmer, MSS 93-1, Box Number, Special Collections, University of Virginia Law Library.

Biographical/Historical Information

Frances Farmer was born in Keysville, Virginia on December 9th, 1909, but she spent most of her younger years in Richmond, where she moved with her family in 1915. She attended John Marshall High School (1923-1927), and then studied at Westhampton College, where she majored in history and had considerable success in the debating society. After her junior year of college she enrolled at T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and received her LL.B. in 1933. The only female in her law class, she graduated with honors and was awarded the O.H. Berry Medal, given to the "best all-around graduate in law." She passed the State Bar Examination in December of the same year.

In October of 1931, Frances Farmer began to work for Dr. Ray Doubles, Dean of the University of Richmond Law School as part-time secretary, a position she kept after her graduation. Despite her outstanding academic record, she learned that good positions for female lawyers were extremely difficult to find at that time.

Meanwhile she became very active in Richmond community affairs. She held a number of offices in the Richmond Branch of University Women (AAUW) (1934-36) and was secretary of the Virginia Consumers' League (1935), the Virginia Social Science Association (1935), and the Virginia Women's Council of Legislative Chairmen of States Organizations (1936). She was also member of the Board of Directors of the Richmond League of Women Voters and the local Y.M.C.A.

Farmer's experience as law librarian began when she entered law school and became the assistant law librarian, in addition to secretary to the dean. In 1934, in the absence of the law librarian, she undertook all the administrative work of the library, including accessioning, selecting and purchasing books, keeping financial records, etc. After completing a course in law library administration at the School of Library Service at Columbia University, she was appointed Law Librarian at the University of Richmond in 1938. In that year she joined the American Association of Law Libraries and became a member of the Committee on the Library Journal (1938).

In July 1942, Farmer accepted the position of senior cataloguer and executive secretary at the University of Virginia Law Library with an annual salary of $2400.00. At that time the library had fewer than 40,000 books, all of them uncataloged, and she was hired to carry out the cataloguing project and to begin a purchase program. In 1943 she began teaching legal bibliography and the following year was appointed Law Librarian. Under her leadership the library grew to 100,000 cataloged volumes by the early 1950s.

Because state funding was never adequate for the growth of a major law library, at the outset Farmer sought the support of the Law School Alumni Association which she found willing to match or exceed state money. Thus began a life long partnership which helped to make the Law Library one of the top ten in the nation. In return Farmer gave unstintingly to the Alumni Association, masterminding and for many years overseeing the annual spring alumni weekend and serving sixteen years as secretary/treasurer of the Association.

Farmer eventually gained faculty status at the Law School, making her its first female law professor. She was also active in professional organizations. She had lifetime membership in the American Association of Law Libraries which she served as president in 1959-60. In addition, she was a member of the Virginia State Bar and the State Bar Association, was active in University of Richmond alumni groups, and held membership in Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif. She was a consultant to many U.S. law libraries and to the government law library in Nigeria. In February-March of 1975 she was one of the three American law librarians who served as faculty members of the First Conference of Law Librarians in Nigeria, at the Nigerian Law School on Victoria Island, in Lagos. She was active in promoting interest in microforms for law libraries and was appointed by the Attorney General of Virginia in 1976 to explore computerized legal research for Virginia lawyers and public officials.

She retired in August of 1976, and became library consultant to the Center of Oceans Law and Policy at the Law School. The same year she was designated Professor Emerita by the Board of Visitors of the University, and her alma mater awarded her an honorary degree in recognition of her outstanding achievements in law librarianship.

Farmer co-wrote with Ray Doubles a Manual of Legal Bibliography (The Michie Company, 1947) and edited The Wilson Reader (Oceana Publications, 1956). In retirement she compiled an oral history of the second century of the Law School.

A Law School Alumni Association resolution recognizing Frances Farmer's contributions at the 30-year mark stated, "As a result of her creative mind, an inexhaustible supply of energy, resourcefulness and ability, and her indomitable spirit, the Law Library at the University of Virginia has grown and prospered."

Frances Farmer died in Charlottesville on September 13, 1993.

Scope and Content

The papers of Frances Farmer have received minimal organization to make them readily accessible. Her files labeled "personal correspondence" are arranged chronologically (1931-1992), and concern both personal and professional matters. Other files that were organized by subject remain as they were. These documents are primarily administrative regarding the Law Library. There are also copies of her speeches, memorabilia, numerous copies of newspaper clippings, awards, and resolutions. Finally, there is an extensive collection of photographs of Farmer, her family, and members of the Law School community.

Contents List

  • Box 1-2
    Frances Farmer Personal Correspondence. (10 folders), 1931-1992
    Physical Location:
  • Box 2
    Notes of condolence upon the death of F.F.'s parents, 1940
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Awards, 1953-1974
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    F.F. Biographical Information, 1909-1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Law Library Catalogue Project, 1965-1966
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Center for Oceans Law and Policy. Correspondence, 1977-1983
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Conferences, articles. Miscellaneous papers, 1959-1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Family Correspondence, 1907-1958
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Information Handling Services (IHS). Special file, 1975
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Law School Alumni Association, 1975-1978
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Law Library Report, 1975-1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    Lexis. Legal Computerization Services, 1974-1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 3
    LSAA LibraryCommittee. Correspondence, 1967-1969
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Memberships, professional associations, committees,
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Miscellaneous programs and other memorabilia,
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    The Morris Project. Cataloguing Department, 1968-1969
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Newspaper clippings (and photocopies, 1929-1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Nigeria Trip, 1975
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Phi Beta Kappa. Bicentennial Committee. Beta Chapter, 1975-1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Poems and other writings from Scrapbook, [ca. 1930s]
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Retirement, 1976
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Richmond A.A.U.W. Scrapbook. Newspaper clippings (and photocopies), 1935-1936
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Speeches and other writings, [1930s?]
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    F.F.'s Will, 1982
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    The Woodrow Wilson Reader, 1956
    Physical Location:
  • Box 4
    Miscellaneous printed material,
    Physical Location:
Miscellaneous Objects
  • Box 5
    7 framed portraits of F.F. and her parents.
    Physical Location:
  • Box 5
    1 framed note from Hardy C.Dillard.
    Physical Location:
  • Box 5
    1 gold medallion for Best Graduate in T.C. Williams School of Law.
    Physical Location:
  • Box 6
    1 framed portrait of Florence Farmer.
    Physical Location:
  • Box 6
    Various address books.
    Physical Location:
  • Box 6
    One rubber stamp.
    Physical Location:
  • Box 6
    F.F.'s academic hood.
    Physical Location:
  • A.A.L.L. groups (4 photos), n.d.
  • Battle, John Governor with Senator Kennedy and John Parker. First Law Day, 1958
  • Carlyle, Irving E., President of Law School Association, 1953-1954
  • Class of '24. Law Day, 1964
  • Class of '28. Law Day, 1963
  • Class of '29. Law Day, 1964
  • Class of '30. Law Day, 1963?
  • Class of '30. Law Day, 1965
  • Class of '50. Law Day, 1965
  • Class of '48 and '49 at picnic, n.d.
  • Farmer, Florence Womack, ca. 1900
  • F.F. as a little girl, ca. 1910-1913
  • F.F. and Arthur Morris, 1969
  • F.F. and Bernard Chamberlain at Law Day Committee Meeting, ca. 1974
  • F.F. and Larry Pheers[?] at Old Fort Comfort, Va, ca. 1930
  • F.F. and Peggy Van Cise. First years in Charlottesville, ca. 1942
  • F.F. and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson, 1956
  • F.F. and unidentified college friends, ca. 1930s
  • F.F. and unidentified friends at Jack Dempsey's Broadway Bar. New York City, ca. 1938-1939
  • F.F. at Columbia Library School with unidentified friends, 1938-1939
  • F.F. at her desk, ca. 1970s
  • F.F. at home, ca. 1970
  • F.F. at a hotel in Minneapolis, when she was President of the AALL, 1959-1960
  • F.F. birthday party and Christmas tree, ca. 1970s
  • F.F. Christmas with unidentified friends, 1976
  • F.F. First year in Charlottesville, ca. 1942-1943
  • F.F. in her office at UVA, ca. 1942-1944
  • F.F. graduation portrait. Westhampton College, Richmond Va, 1931
  • F.F. in AALL meeting in Michigan, ca. 1942
  • F.F. in her house, ca. 1970
  • F.F.'s house and garden, n.d.
  • F.F. in her last years, ca.1980-1990s
  • F.F.'s paternal grandfather?, ca. 1890-1900
  • F.F. photo proofs, ca. 1970
  • F.F. portrait at the Law School, ca. 1976
  • F.F. various portraits, 1930s-1970s
  • F.F. Presentation of Charles T. Norman Award for Best All-around law graduate of 1933 from the University of Richmond School of Law, 1974
  • F.F. at class reunion at Westhampton College, 1933
  • F.F. speaking [at AALL dinner?], ca. 1953
  • F.F. taking art class in Charlottesville, 1940s
  • F.F. with unidentified family and friends, 1940s
  • F.F. with Barbara Murphy and Janet Camillo at new Lexis terminal, 1976
  • F.F. with Dr. Taslim O. Elias. Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. February-March, 1975
  • F.F. with Hardy C. Dillard and Dean Ribble, 1960s
  • F.F. with Justice Stanley F. Reed. Presentation of Law Library's 100,000th volume, 1953
  • F.F. with Senator John Warner and Elizabeth Taylor, 1977
  • F.F. with Waller Barrett (member of the Board of Visitors), Frank L. Hereford, (President of UVA), B.F.D. Runk, William L. Duren and Lewis Hammond. Named Professor Emeritus. April, 1976
  • F.F. with some Law Library staff, ca. 1942
  • F.F. with unidentified students, 1952
  • F.F. with unidentified students, ca. 1950s
  • Farmer, Horatio Weldon, Florence Womack and Frances, ca. 1911
  • Farmer, Horatio W. [F.F.'s father], ca. 1900
  • Farmer, Horatio W. and Florence Womack, ca. 1900
  • Glenn, Garrard. Dinner. Dedication of his portrait, [1947]
  • Grotius (Huig De Groot) signed D. Mytens. Photograph of famous portrait, 1637
  • Howard, Dick with Charles S. Robb (President of the Student Legal Forum) and Spiro T. Agnew, ca. 1972-1973
  • Innamorati, Ginna and Mathew. Christmas cards. F.F.'s relatives, 1984-1986
  • Kennedy, Edward, Jacqueline, John and Robert. First Law Day, 1958 March
  • Kuhn, Bowie, Commissioner of Baseball, 1977
  • [Lanning, H. Victor, Lt.?], ca. 1943-1944
  • Law Alumni Council. (2 folders), 1963, ca. 1977
  • Law Day. (7 folders), ca. 1960-69
  • Law Day. Auction. Negatives, 1977
  • Law Library Dedication, 1974
  • Law School Event, late 1960s
  • Law School Faculty. (4 photos), 1946, -47, -61, -68
  • Law School Faculty and Students, ca. 1949-1951
  • Libel Show. (3 photos), 1950s; 1965
  • Moot Court. (4 photos), 1963-66
  • Morris, Arthur J. (2 photos), 1969-70
  • Morris, Arthur and members of his family with Frances Farmer, ca. 1970
  • Morris, Arthur. Banquet in his honor at The Rotunda. December 4th, 1971
  • Parker, John C, ca. 1970s
  • Paulsen, Monrad, Dean. Presentation of Law Library's 200,000th volume, 1969
  • Pope, W.W. Capt. and Phil. Wedding. Las Vegas, Nevada, 1942
  • Price, Mr. and Mrs. Miles O, n.d.
  • Ribble, Mr. and Mrs. Presentation of the Frederick Deane Goodwin Ribble Bowl, 1963
  • Ribble, F.D.G. retirement ceremony, 1963
  • Ribble, F.D.G. Seven Society Award, 1963
  • Student-faculty tea. Law Library catalogue room, 1953
  • Supreme Court of the United States, n.d.
  • Virginia Law Review. Student staff, ca. 1958
  • Virginia Law Weekly. Student Staff, ca. 1958
  • Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, n.d.
  • Wheeler-Bennett, Sir John and Lady Ruth. Banquet to honor Arthur J. Morris at the Rotunda, 1971
  • Womack, Family. Florence, Carter hiding his foot behind Florence's skirt, and unidentified people, ca. 1906
  • Womack, Florence, Linda (girl sitting) and "Papa" with [mother?] and unidentified person, ca. 1900s
  • Womack, Florence and friends, ca. 1900
  • Womack, Mary, Papa, [Carter], Linda, Janie and Florence. F.F. maternal relatives. Keysville, Va, 1907
Photographs Duplicating Those Already Owned by Library
  • Dillard, Ribble and Ritchie, ca. 1950
  • Glenn, Garrard. Dinner. Presentation of his portrait, 1947
  • Law School Alumni Association. Meeting at Farmington Country Club. (4 photographs), ca. 1950-60
  • Law School. Clark Memorial Hall. Library. (3 photographs), n.d.
  • Law School Faculty. (2 photos), 1952
  • Law School Faculty. (9 photos), 1964
  • Law School Faculty, 1977-1978
Oversize Items
  • Miscellaneous newspapers clippings, 1929-1939
  • Virginia State Certificate of Appreciation, 1959
  • High Tide. Songs of Joy and Vision from the Present-Day Poets of America and Great Britain, 1916
  • Farmer, Ellery: Descendents of Thomas Farmer who came to Virginia in 1616, n.d.
Oversize Items
  • The Holy Bible, 1962
  • Directory of Alumni of the Law School, 1963
  • Farmer, Frances: The Wilson Reader, 1956
  • The Web, 1929-1933, 1951
  • The Marshallite, 1927
  • Boxes with FF's home furniture lists, and addresses.
  • Framed photograph of Frances Farmer.
  • Framed photograph of Bernard Chamberlain.
  • Frances Farmer Raven Award, 1983
Diplomas, Awards, etc.
  • Westhampton College, Bachelor of Arts, 1931
  • T.C. Williams School of Law, Bachelor of Law, 1933
  • Virginia Board of Law Examiners, License as an Attorney and Counselor at Law, 1933
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1956
  • Order of the Coif, 1968
  • University Extension, University of California, 1966
  • Resolution of Appreciation from Alumni Association, 1971
  • Resolution, "Unsinkable Fanny Farmer", 1974
  • Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Richmond, 1976