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George Washington Biddle

November 07, 2023

Prominent Philadelphia attorney George Washington Biddle is the founder of Biddle Law Library.

The founder of the Biddle Law Library, George Washington Biddle donated over 5,000 law books to the University of Pennsylvania in 1887 in memory of his son George.

Biddle was a prominent Philadelphia attorney who studied law under his uncle James C. Biddle and John Cadwalader. He practiced law while contributing his time to public causes, serving on the Philadelphia Common Council and as leader of the Philadelphia Bar for 20 years.

He also represented the First Senatorial District in the Convention of 1873, helping revise and amend the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

Biddle’s photograph is by Frederick Gutekunst, a prolific German émigré photographer who was well known for his portraits of American Civil War generals and leaders in business and politics, and for his panoramic landscape views.

When Gutekunst was a boy, his father urged him to become a lawyer, but Gutekunst found the work so dry and uninteresting that he would spend most of his dinner allowance on materials for chemistry experiments. This led to an interest in the new art of daguerrotyping, and then photography.

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