The Jefferson B. Fordham Digital Collection

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Digital Collection

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This collection contains the papers and photographs of Jefferson B. Fordham, which were graciously donated to the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law by his late wife, Rita Ennella Fordham, in 2012.

Jefferson Barnes Fordham, a vocal supporter of individual rights and racial equality, served as dean of the University of Pennsylvania's law school from 1952 until he reached emeritus status in 1970. From 1972 until his retirement, he was a professor of law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

As a law dean he testified at Congressional hearings and served on public panels, including one that advised President John F. Kennedy on ethics in government and the problems posed by conflicts of interest. He was a strong advocate of individual rights and racial equality. He was a prime mover in 1966 when the American Bar Association created a division on individual rights and responsibilities. It was the first broad-based group within the A.B.A. to focus on civil rights and civil liberties.

In Senate hearings in 1967, Dean Fordham urged a national fair-housing law. It was needed, he declared, because "housing -- one's living situation -- conditions access to or availability of other opportunities, notably in education and employment."

Professor Fordham was born in Greensboro, N.C. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina, where he also earned his master's degree. He received a law degree in 1930 at Yale University, where he was a member of the Order of Coif. He was in Government service in Washington and private practice in New York in the 1930's, and served in the Pacific as a lieutenant commander in the Navy in World War II.

He held professorships at Louisiana State University, Vanderbilt University and Ohio State University, joining the faculty in Philadelphia as a professor of law in 1952.