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A Window into Wellman: Processing the Richard V. Wellman Papers

September 18, 2008

wellman.jpgLast spring, the Archives was happy to receive a grant from the ACTEC Foundation to process the papers of Richard V. Wellman. 

Dick Wellman was a professor at University of Michigan Law School and, later, University of Georgia School of Law.  But he is probably best known as the chief reporter (and, later, Executive Director of the Joint Editorial Board) for the Uniform Probate Code, first promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law (NCCUSL) and the American Bar Association in 1969.  Like the Uniform Commerical Code, the Uniform Probate Code sought to streamline and simplify a vast area of the law: in this case, laws governing wills, estates, and intestacy.  Wellman’s papers represent a significant addition to the NCCUSL Archives, which are located right here at Penn Law.

Wellman’s efforts to encourage states to adopt the UPC lasted his entire career, even up to his death in 2005, as evidenced by the correspondence that the Archives has between Wellman and state representatives from that year.  Wellman’s lifelong advocy for the UPC was not gone unnoticed; at a 2001 symposium on the UPC at Albany Law School, a colleague tasked with introducing Wellman referred to the professor as, simply, “Mr. UPC.”

The generous funding from ACTEC has allowed us to hire a graduate student in library science to process Wellman’s papers under my supervision.  Her name is Doris Wang.  She’ll be writing some blog entries every now and again to provide you with a window into the process by which an archival collection is organized and made available to researchers.  She’ll also attempt to provide you with a better understanding of how Wellman’s papers reflect the nature of his groundbreaking work on the UPC.  Some of those papers include:

  • Wellman’s hand-drafted notes on early versions of the UPC
  • The first official draft of the UPC from a 1967 meeting.
  • State-by-state files kept by Wellman in his efforts to get the UPC enacted and the issues surrounding those efforts.

Doris and I look forward to helping you learn more about the professional career of this important figure in American law.