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Office of General Counsel records

 Collection
Identifier: RG-02-010
In 1975 Johns Hopkins University decided to establish the Office of General Counsel due to increased litigation in American society, the Federal Government's regulation of various aspects of the University's academic and non-academic activities, and the new and, at times, complex business and other relationships the University was entering into with outside parties. Series 1 of the records of the Office of General Counsel include contracts, agreements, deeds, leases, wills, receipts and bills of sale, all pertaining to the University. The records in Series 1 pre-date the establishment of a legal office within the University and consist of legal documents dating from 1882 to 1975; there is also one document dated December 20, 1839, which is the original deed for Homewood, conveying the property from Charles Carroll, III to Samuel Wyman. The records are arranged alphabetically by the names of the parties, except for documents relating to the acquisition of campus land, which are filed under "Homewood Property." The records include contracts, agreements, deeds, leases, wills, receipts and bills of sale, all pertaining to the University. There is also some correspondence with the University's legal representatives and other parties. Series 2 consists of subject files from the early years of the Office of General Counsel. Spanning the years 1974 to 1997, the records document the diversity of cases and activities in which the office was involved.

Dates

  • 1839 - 1997
  • Majority of material found within 1882 - 1997

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Most of this collection is closed to all users except the office of origin. Please see Conditions Governing Access notes for each series for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Extent

15.43 Cubic Feet (27 containers)

Biographical / Historical

Until 1975, the Johns Hopkins University had no internal Office of General Counsel but instead consulted local attorneys or law firms to undertake any necessary legal work. During the first seventy-five years of its existence, the University relied heavily on its own trustees for legal services, as many of them were attorneys. On the first Board of Trustees was Charles J. M. Gwinn, who handled Johns Hopkins' will, and Reverdy Johnson, Jr., who conducted the negotiations for the appointment of Daniel C. Gilman as first president of the University. Richard M. Venable, who served on the Board from 1898 to 1910, directed the consolidation of all the gifts of land that went to make up the Homewood Campus. In fact, the prominent Baltimore law firm of Venable, Baetjer and Howard (of which Hopkins trustee Edwin G. Baetjer was also a partner) continued to serve the University for many years. Other trustees who performed legal services for Hopkins include Carlyle Barton, Eli Frank and John J. McCloy. During this period of informal counsel, important legal documents were stored in the Office of the Treasurer.

On July 1, 1951, the law firm of Niles, Barton and Wilmer began providing legal services to the University on retainer, and Charles E. Quandt, who was originally with the Applied Physics Laboratory, served the University on behalf of the firm on a half-time basis. Niles, Barton and Wilmer subcontracted some types of legal services to other firms or attorneys; Walter Finch, for example, handled patent applications for the University. In 1973, Frederick T. DeKuyper, Labor Relations Officer, Personnel, began to practice law informally at the University and, the following year, Robert C. Bowie, Vice President for Business Management, requested that he prepare a management paper addressing the question: should the University form its own internal legal office or continue to use outside counsel? The administration decided to establish the Office of General Counsel due to the increased litigation in American society, the Federal Government's regulation of various aspects of the University's academic and non-academic activities, and the new and, at times, complex business and other relationships the University was entering into with outside parties.

In August 1975, Estelle A. Fishbein was appointed General Counsel, and Frederick T. DeKuyper was named Assistant General Counsel. In 1991, the position of General Counsel was elevated to the status of a vice presidency and Estelle Fishbein became Vice President and General Counsel.

Scope and Contents

Series 1 of the records of the Office of General Counsel include contracts, agreements, deeds, leases, wills, receipts and bills of sale, all pertaining to the University, 1839-1975 (Bulk: 1882-1975). The records in Series 1 pre-date the establishment of a legal office within the University and consist of legal documents dating from 1882 to 1975; there is also one document dated December 20, 1839, which is the original deed for Homewood, conveying the property from Charles Carroll, III to Samuel Wyman. The records are arranged alphabetically by the names of the parties, except for documents relating to the acquisition of campus land, which are filed under "Homewood Property." The records include contracts, agreements, deeds, leases, wills, receipts and bills of sale, all pertaining to the University. There is also some correspondence with the University's legal representatives and other parties. Series 2 consists of subject files from the early years of the Office of General Counsel. Spanning the years 1974 to 1997, the records document the diversity of cases and activities in which the office was involved.

Custodial History

The Subject Files series records had been stored in the Homewood Garage for some time prior to their transfer.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These records were transferred by the Office of General Counsel in 1980, 1989, and 1997, with possible transfers at other times between 1980 and 1997.

Accruals

Accession Numbers: 80.26, 89.21, and unknown accessions happening between 1989 and 1997.

Processing Information

Originally processed by Wayne Kimball, Maryanne Courtney, Jennifer Allain Myrick. Jordon Steele conducted additional processing, principally involving redescription of the collection, in 2020.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA