Wythepedia Reaches Two Million Page Views, Resurrects Historic Research on Wythe

During the 1930s, historian and archivist W. Edwin Hemphill did ground-breaking research into the life of William & Mary Law School namesake, George Wythe. Hemphill master's thesis, "George Wythe, America's First Law Professor" (Emory University, 1933), concentrates on Wythe's teaching Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and Henry Clay. His Ph.D. dissertation, "George Wythe the Colonial Briton" (University of Virginia, 1937), is considered the best account of Wythe's early life.
Hemphill became interested in Wythe as an undergraduate at Hampden-Sydney College, in Virginia. An essay contest sponsored by a life insurance company gave him the idea that "George Wythe had as good a claim as any of his contemporaries in the golden age of Virginia leadership to the title of the 'Forgotten Man'." Hemphill originally intended to write a full biography of Wythe for his Ph.D., but because he uncovered a "superabundance" of materials, he limited his dissertation to the first fifty years of Wythe's life, up to the time of the American Revolution.
Among Hemphill's contributions to Wythe scholarship were his discoveries of the original witness testimony from the 1806 murder and forgery trials of George Wythe's grand-nephew, and an exchange of poems composed by Wythe and another founding father, William Ellery of Rhode Island, written while they were sitting at the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776.
William & Mary’s Wolf Law Library sought permission from Hemphill's family to add his original thesis and dissertation to Wythepedia —the online encyclopedia of George Wythe—making material previously accessible only as photocopies of the original typescript freely available on the Internet. Beginning in 2014, many of the library's student workers, including Jake Albert, Marc Greco, Anne Morris, Jennifer Morris, Lauren Riley, Daniel Thompson, Lydia Warkentin and Simon Zagata, spent hours arduously transcribing Hemphill's research.

About William & Mary Law School

Thomas Jefferson founded William & Mary Law School in 1779 to train leaders for the new nation. Now in its third century, America's oldest law school continues its historic mission of educating citizen lawyers who are prepared both to lead and to serve.
The completion of the Hemphill project coincided with another Wythepedia milestone. At the beginning of October, Wythepedia reached 2,000,000 page views.