Item Details

The Law Office Papers of William F. Long and R. Watson Sadler

The practice of Long and Sadler as documented in this collection was characteristic of legal work in a small town in the early twentieth century. The cases are virtually all civil, primarily trusts and estates, real estate, insurance, torts, and divorce. From the earliest period of Long's practice, there are very few documents: one case file, two bound abstracts of title, and a ledger book dating from the early 1900s. After 1914 Long's time was apparently taken up primarily by his duties as Commissioner of Accounts, although he also served as attorney in trust and estate cases and handled some divorces. The bulk of the cases documented here, therefore, are Sadler's. The papers were acquired in their original, usually numbered folders. Although they may once have been filed in numerical order, they were in no particular order when they arrived. The name index file, consisting of 3 x 5 cards containing the name and a number for each client, does not necessarily correspond to the number on the case file for that particular client. The numbers (if present) and any other information on the original folders were transcribed to new folders, including the designation "colored" for African-American clients. The case files have been arranged in alphabetical order by client name, or in some cases plaintiff name. Cases that Long handled as commissioner were numbered and filed along with those he handled as attorney, so they remain amid the others. Following the case files are bound copies of abstracts of title, ledgers containing financial records both for the practice and for individual clients, and personal/professional files for Long and Sadler, especially financial records. This collection is remarkable because it covers more than fifty years of continuous practice. The documentation of Sadler's twenty-five years in the office provides a clear impression of his work: the types of cases he took, the socio-economic range of his clients, and his case load. For those years the collection is especially rich in detail about the lives of Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents, the property they bought, sold and left to heirs, and their disputes over inheritance. Some of the clients were prominent and well-to-do, for example, John West who early in the century owned a great deal of property downtown, but many others were either financially comfortable or poor. There are quite a few divorces, a number of which involve dissertion during World War II. Although it lacks significant cases or famous clients, the collection is representative of a large body of legal work for the period it covers.
ACQUISITION INFORMATION DATE RECEIVED 1988 DONOR INFORMATION The Law Office Papers of William F. Long and R. Watson Sadler were transferred to the Law Library in 1988 by the Manuscripts Department of Alderman Library and are on loan from the Albemarle County Historical Society. The Historical Society received the papers along with the office building owned by William Long at the time of his death in 1967.
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