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Founded in 1935, the law firm of Dallas F. Nicholas and William I. Gosnell was a general practice firm. Their association was a loose one; at times, they worked closely together, and the files reflect this with content and communication from both in a single file. At other times, they seemed to operate separately from one another with unique business letterheads and separate clients. During its history, the firm also included an associate partner named U. Theodore Hayes, who would go on to become the first African American Hearings Master in the Baltimore City Circuit Court.
The collection provides a rare view into a segment of society that has been, for the most part, ignored: the world of the mid-twentieth-century, African American attorney. As African American attorneys, Nicholas and Gosnell were among the first at a time when their numbers were few, yet they managed to make notable contributions in the struggle for civil rights. Within the African American community, these men, by benefit of their profession and knowledge, held positions of power and influence, and as such worked to improve their community from within.
Professor Larry Gibson donated the collection to the Thurgood Marshall Law Library in 2002. Processing began in the fall of 2002 and was completed in the fall of 2004. Project staff included Lauren Bailey, Erin Holcombe, and Bill Sleeman.
Access to the collection is by appointment only. Please contact Special Collections in the Library to make an appointment to access this collection.
Material is arranged and labeled in the original filing order by cabinet (left to right) and drawer (top to bottom). While a chronological arrangement generally predominates, there is, as the business of particular clients ebbed and flowed, some interfiling of materials.
Attorney/Client privilege. Library Staff at the Thurgood Marshall Law Library have examined current practices at several institutions, reviewed the ABA rules on attorney/client privilege and has discussed the issue with historians, archivists and attorneys. With this collection the Library has decided to open all material dated 30 years or more from the dissolution of Nicholas' and Gosnell's partnership. Researchers should secure the permission of any identifiable family members when considering the publication of specific personal information from the collection.
Photocopying of non-fragile material is available. Tax documents and individual financial statements may not be photocopied. Adoption records and related information are generally closed but can be accessed on a case-by-case basis. Permission to reproduce or quote from the collection generally in published research in any format may be requested in writing from the Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland School of Law, Special Collections, 501 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.
Cite as: The Legal Papers of Dallas Nicholas and William Gosnell. Thurgood Marshall Law Library, The University of Maryland School of Law.