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U T School of Law Class Composites 1844 to 1959


The Department of Law 1883-1889

In 1881 the Texas State Legislature approved an act to establish the University of Texas. The University opened with two departments: an academic department, with six professors, and a law department, with two.  The law department matriculated 50 students in the 1883-1884 school year – thirteen of those received a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1884. By 1889 the number of law students in attendance had reached 91. The west wing of the “University Building” was completed by January 1884 on the original forty acres, and students and faculty were able to move from their temporary quarters in the capital building into the new facility. Law classes met in the basement of what was to become known as Main, and later still “Old Main.”

Exterior of Old Main circa 1887-1894

The course of law in this period took two years, and although a “collegiate” education was not required, it was recommended. By the end of the decade if applicants were not graduates of an “approved” high school or “reputable” college they were required to pass examinations covering Composition, Mathematics or Latin, and English or U. S. History, or remedy the deficit by enrolling in appropriate course in the academic department. No tuition was required of residents of the State of Texas, although there was a matriculation fee of $20. In addition, out of state students were charged a tuition fee of $20.

Reports from the board of Regents to the Legislature provide detailed information on admissions and matriculation, courses of study, expenses, and university programming.

Click on the links below to view or search the composite picture for that year.