Boswell-Caracci Gift Speaks Volumes about the Importance of George Wythe’s Library

  • Celebrating History
    Celebrating History  Chris Caracci HON ’23 and James Boswell B.A. ’86 have an extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for rare books and well-honed expertise on Colonial American history. Their generosity is helping preserve the contents of George Wythe’s eighteenth-century library.  Photo by David F. Morrill
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For several years now, William & Mary Law School’s Wolf Law Library has been proudly displaying its George Wythe Room, a recreation of the contents of the eighteenth-century library of George Wythe, William & Mary’s—and the nation’s—first law professor.

And as of Friday, December 1, it’s now officially known as the George Wythe Boswell-Caracci Room.

Members of the law community, and George Wythe himself in the form of a Colonial Williamsburg reenactor, came together that evening to officially dedicate the room and the generosity of two donors who made it all possible, James Boswell B.A. ’86 and Chris Caracci HON ’23.

Wolf Law Library Director Leslie Street reminded attendees that Wythe taught students from his own library, exposing students to books in history, economics, rhetoric, philosophy, and literature, and encouraged students to learn Greek, Latin, and French.

“The preservation of this collection, as well as our efforts to continually build this collection to its completion, are evidence that the law library and the law school understands not only its historical significance, but that this collection today literally speaks volumes about the law school’s continued effort to educate and train the citizen lawyers of the 21st century,” Street said.

Street praised Boswell’s and Caracci’s extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for rare books and their well-honed expertise on Colonial American history.

“Their enthusiasm has led to the most sustained support for the Wolf Library that we’ve ever experienced,” Street said. “In building a special collection of historical materials they have enabled us to purchase, in recent years, 20 historical titles that George Wythe included in his library.”

Boswell likened visiting a collection of rare books to experiencing a work of art. To get the full impact, you have to see it in person.

“Only then do you understand the scope and the scale of the work of art,” Boswell said. “And so it is with libraries; they are best experienced in person. They should be immersive. They should draw you in. They should let you absorb the scope and the scale.”

Boswell said that the Wythe room accomplishes that goal and in so doing, “celebrates our past and reminds us about William & Mary’s impact on, and our faith in, the future.”

A 1986 graduate of William & Mary, Boswell earned his J.D. from the University of Georgia Law School, his master’s degree in government from Harvard University, an MBA from Eastern University, and a professional certificate in Strategic management from the Wharton School of Business.

He has spent nearly 30 years working at the intersection of business, law, and government, and taught business law and other related courses at William & Mary’s Mason School of Business and at other institutions.

A retired U.S. Air Force officer, Caracci is a 30-year veteran of The Walt Disney Company and an expert in leadership development and organizational culture and design. He consults with organizations worldwide in formulating strategies to improve their customer, client, and patient experiences. For 25 years, he has taught in the areas of business ethics, organizational behavior and development, service strategy, and leadership, and is an adjunct professor of global strategic management at the Mason School of Business.

The dedication event was rounded off with A. Benjamin Spencer, Dean and Trustee Professor of Law, offering a toast to Boswell and Caracci.

“May their passion for preserving George Wythe’s work inspire generations to come,” Spencer said. “May this room be a symbol of their enduring legacy and a reminder that the pursuit of justice is a noble endeavor that requires dedication, intellect and a profound appreciation for those who paved the way.”

For a list of books acquired through the George Wythe Boswell-Caracci Room Acquisition Fund, visit the Law Library’s Wythepedia page.