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New Collection in the Archives: Richard V. Wellman Papers

March 11, 2009


Thanks to a grant from the ACTEC Foundation, the Biddle Law Library Archives was able to process the papers of Richard V. Wellman, the primary architect of the Uniform Probate Code.  A finding aid for the processed collection can be found here.

At 28 linear feet, the Wellman Papers comprise one of the largest collections in the Archives of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL). The NCCUSL Archives primarily consists of the papers of individuals who have worked on various projects by NCCUSL, an organization that endeavors to promote greater uniformity in the law by drafting uniform laws and model acts.  As NCCUSL Archivist (one of my many hats around the Library), I am responsible for maintaining both electronic and print records related to these NCCUSL projects.  Professor Wellman’s papers represent the latter.  

Born in 1922, Wellman taught at the University of Michigan and the University of Georgia.  He is perhaps best known as the chief reporter for the Uniform Probate Code, first promulgated by NCCUSL and the American Bar Association in 1969.  Like the Uniform Commerical Code, the Uniform Probate Code sought to streamline and simplify a vast and complex area of the law: in this case, laws governing wills, estates, and intestacy.  The Wellman Papers include correspondence, meeting materials, and drafts related to Wellman’s work on the Uniform Probate Code as well as other UPC-related projects.  The collection should prove to be a boon for researchers interested in the history of the law of wills and estates, as it is probably the largest known body of probate-related archival material.

When word got out that we were processing Wellman’s papers, I was notified that another institution had papers related to Wellman’s work for the California Law Revision Commission.  We recently accessioned these papers and they should be available soon as part of the processed collection.

Please contact me for more information about the Wellman Papers and other collections in the NCCUSL Archives.