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Dr. Samuel Peterson: Looking Back 100 Years

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The Samuel Peterson Diaries were purchased by Tarlton Law Library in 2007 and added to Rare Books and Special Collections. This virtual exhibit was originally designed to complement a physical exhibit displayed in the Susman-Godfrey atrium of Jones Hall in Spring 2008. The Rare Books and Special Collections department at Tarlton Law Library serves as the repository for the Law School's historical materials and includes over a century of yearbooks, the papers of former professors and deans, photographs and other materials. Dr. Samuel Peterson had his B.A. Yale 1895; Ph.D., ibid., 1897; LL.B., ibid., 1898; D.C.L., ibid., 1899; Instructor in Political Science and Law, University of North Dakota, 1901-1902; Assistant Professor of Political Science and Law, ibid., 1902-1904; Adjunct Professor Political Science, The University of Texas, since 1904. - from 1907 Cactus Peterson, an Adjunct Professor of Political Science, taught at the University of Texas from fall 1904 through spring 1907, leaving in 1907 to enter private practice with Otto Taub in Houston. His legacy rests in fifteen diaries which cover over a decade of his life, including the years 1904, 1906, and 1907. These diaries preserve a personal record of life in Texas and the University at the turn of the century, when the Law School was the Law Department, law classes convened in the Old Main building, and an offer of employment came by telegraph wire. During his time at UT, Peterson witnessed the establishment of Delta Chi, a law fraternity still active nationally, and participated in rituals such as the Law Department Smoker, which have since faded into history. He studied for, took, and passed the Bar Exam. He worried about his weight, fretted about public speaking, and struggled with the heat of Texas summers. Enjoy the exhibit, and consider how much and how little has changed in 100 years.

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