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The Papers of Professor Carl McFarland

Identifier: MSS-85-3

Scope and Contents

The papers of Carl McFarland, contained in 28 boxes (136 linear ft.), were deposited at the Law Library by his widow, Pat McFarland, on February 1, 1985. Most of the collection had been stored in file cabinets in his study at home.

These papers, which are almost entirely professional, have been arranged in groups corresponding to the stages of McFarland's career. The earliest records originated during his tenure at the Department of Justice in the 1930's, and contain valuable information concerning the Wagner Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and other New Deal legislation. McFarland's work as chairman of the American Bar Association's committee on administrative law, which resulted in the 1946 passage of the Administrative Procedure Act, is fully documented, as is his brief term as chairman of the Civil Service Commission's Hearing Examiner Board. While there is little material documenting his term as president of the University of Montana, there are records of his activities on the Hoover Commission, the President's Conference on Administrative Law, and the Virginia Code Commission. McFarland's role as literary executor for former Attorney General Homer S. Cummings is documented in detail.

Later files include many drafts of a proposed casebook, Legislation and Administrative Law, as well as much teaching material, primarily notes and exams from courses taught at the University of Virginia. These files contain many folders of research notes and clippings related to his various professional interests. A list of published material found in the collection is enclosed in the control folder.

McFarland's correspondents include Griffin Bell, Raymond Bice, William J. Brennan, Mortimer Caplin, Tom Clark, Homer S. Cummings, Hardy Dillard, Northcutt Ely, Paul Freund, William Harbaugh, Frank Hereford, William Leuchtenberg, Miles Lord, Pat McCarran, Frank Murphy, Allan Nevins, Monrad Paulsen, Stanley Reed, Jack Ritchie, Franklin Roosevelt, Emerson Spies, Robert F. Wagner, Henry A. Wallace, and Sumner Welles.

McFarland's papers will be of interest to scholars of administrative and legislative law, as well as the New Deal era.

There are no restrictions on the use of the Carl McFarland papers.


  • Creation: 1927-1986


Biographical / Historical

Born in Seattle, Washington, in 1904, Carl McFarland received his B.A. (1928), his M.A. (1929), and his LL.B. (1930) from the University of Montana. In 1932 he earned an S.J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a year later his dissertation, Judicial Control of the Federal Trade Commission and Interstate Commerce Commission, was published. Returning to Montana in the fall of 1932, McFarland joined the law firm of Toomey and McFarland in Helena. Early in 1933, he accepted the Montana State Supreme Court's offer to act as Commissioner of the codification of the Montana statutes. He had barely begun this work when he left to join the Department of Justice in Washington. First employed as a special assistant anti-trust attorney, McFarland was later appointed assistant attorney general. In charge of the vast Lands Division, he was instrumental in drafting much New Deal legislation. Also during this period McFarland co-wrote Federal Justice with Attorney General Homer S. Cummings. He received the American Bar Association’s first Ross Award in 1934.

By 1939, both men had left the Justice Department. McFarland joined Cummings in private practice at the latter's Washington firm of Cummings and Stanley (later called McFarland and Sellers). Beginning in 1940, McFarland was active in American Bar Association committees, chiefly the Legislation and Administrative Law Committee. In this capacity he was the principal draftsman of the Administrative Procedure Act, the federal statute which provides for the governing of more than one hundred governmental agencies, and which was voted into law in 1946 without a single dissent in either house. For his contributions to this legislative achievement, McFarland was awarded the American Bar Association's Gold Medallion. Following the passage of the bill, he served a brief term as Chairman of the Civil Service Commission's Hearing Examiner Board in 1948-1949. Leaving private practice in 1951, McFarland began an eight-year stint as president of the University of Montana. He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia Law School in 1959. His courses included Administrative Law and Legislation. An authority on legislative and administrative law, McFarland served on the Hoover Commission, the President's Conference on Administrative Procedure in 1954-1955, and the Virginia Code Commission. He was consultant to the Virginia Commission on Constitutional Revision, and chairman of the 1968 United States Public Land Law Revision Commission. He died in 1979.


16 Cubic Feet (28 archival boxes, plus photographs and some oversized materials.)

Language of Materials



Professional legal papers that document McFarland's work in administrative law at the Department of Justice, the Hoover Commission, the Virginia Administrative Procedure Act and as President of the University of Montana. There is correspondence, research materials, student notebooks and miscellaneous materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was given to the Law School by Pat McFarland in February of 1985, 1989, 1990, 1999.

Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections Repository

Arthur J. Morris Law Library
580 Massie Road
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22903 United States