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Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Class Composite Photographs

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About the collection

The Moritz College of Law Class Composite Photographs Collection chiefly consists of individual photographs of faculty and students assembled as a “composite” for the graduating law classes, dating from 1902 to the present. The collection includes the original photographic prints or more recent reprints that vary in quality and condition and generally range in size from 12 x 18 inches, up to 28 x 22 inches or larger. Composites feature the names of individual faculty and students who are pictured, but may not include photographs of every class member. Occasionally, a student is pictured with more than one class. Composites are available for most, but not every class year.

The composite photographs of The Ohio State University College of Law graduating classes dating from 1902-1996 have been selected for digitization and preservation in the University’s digital repository known as the Knowledge Bank. Print copies of all of the composites are displayed inside the main entrance to the Moritz Law Library.

Background and history of the collection

When the earliest class composite was assembled in 1902, the College was already well-established under its first full-time dean, Dean William F. Hunter, and had joined the American Association of Law Schools as a charter member. Nearly a decade after the first law classes were held in fall 1891, the College was about to move into permanent quarters in the newly-constructed Page Hall, which would house the law school for more than 50 years. Page Hall is featured prominently in many of the early composites for each class subsequent to its opening in 1903.

Over the decades, the class composite photographs reflect the changing societal and historical circumstances impacting the College and the nation. Both women and minorities were included among the law graduates from the earliest days, although not in great numbers until much later. Spurred by the social upheavals of the late 1960’s, law school initiatives also accelerated at this time to increase the diversity of the student body.

Both World Wars disrupted classes and affected student enrollment which dropped precipitously during wartime. During World War I, classes were halted for a time and no composite is available for the class of 1919, which included only a few graduates. Early in the next decade, with enrollment still low, composites for the classes of 1924 and 1925 apparently were never compiled.

The student body grew from the late 1920’s into the Depression era of the 1930’s and student involvement also increased at this time. The Student Bar Association was organized in 1934 and the class President begins to be identified on the composites, together with other class officers, student leaders and law journal editors in later years. As the country entered World War II, student enrollment plummeted again. Law school classes continued during the war, but composites were not created for the smaller graduating classes of 1944 and 1945.

By the late 1940’s, student enrollment began to expand as returning veterans pursued higher education and a new law curriculum was established. Class sizes continued to grow steadily throughout the 1950’s. By the end of the decade, with new programs and a larger faculty under the leadership of Dean Frank R. Strong, the law school relocated to the new Law Building on High Street, dedicated in April 1960.

The 1970’s and 1980’s marked a period of especially rapid growth for the law school, with average class sizes nearly doubling from those of the mid-1960’s. Increased University support and sustained recruitment efforts helped to promote enrollment and the diversity of entering classes. Significant alumni involvement in fund-raising, including the highly successful Centennial Campaign as the College observed its 100th anniversary in 1991, helped to fund a major building renovation and new addition, and contributed to the development of new programs and student services that continues to the present.

Today, law school classes are held in Drinko Hall, dedicated and named in 1992 for John D. Drinko, Class of 1944. The practice of developing a composite for each graduating class continues-- now representing alumni of the Moritz College of Law, named in 2001 in honor of Michael E. Moritz, Class of 1961. In the 21st century, as Moritz graduates enter the legal profession in an increasingly complex and global world, it is hoped that the new digital collection of Law Class Composite Photographs will prove useful and instructive to alumni and others wishing to research family genealogy or explore the College’s earlier history.

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