In 1874, during the celebration of the Yale Law School's "Semicentennial Anniversary," Theodore Woolsey, a former Yale President and Professor at the Law School, claimed that the Law School had been founded in 1824 when a group of students were listed as "Law Students" in the Yale Catalogue. These students studied in a small proprietary law school started by Seth P. Staples and operated, in 1824, by Samuel J. Hitchcock and David Daggett. Their listing in the catalogue seems to indicate a connection between the Staples-Hitchcock-Daggett school and Yale College. Since 1874, Yale historians and the Yale Law School itself have designated this 1824 connection as a founding, though with some apparent hesitation.
This Note examines fresh evidence about the origins of the Yale Law School, including the affiliation of the Staples school with Yale College. It begins by analyzing the documents on which the 1824 founding date is based. Using this evidence, along with biographies and obituaries of Yale students, I show that, in fact, students in the Staples school were listed prior to 1824 under the category of "Resident Graduates." After examining Harvard College Catalogues, I show that Harvard Law School students were also listed as "Resident Graduates" during its early period.
Sansbury, Michael T., "When Was The Yale Law School Really Founded?" (2001). Student Legal History Papers. Paper 5.