A Guide to the Charles S. Potts Papers, 1886-1960
Born in Weatherford, Texas, Charles Shirley Potts (1872-1963) studied at Weatherford College and the Parker Institute before earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin (UT) in 1902. Following a brief stint as an assistant professor of economics and history at Texas A&M University, Potts graduated from the UT Law School in 1909. A founding member of UT’s Texas Law Review, he joined the university’s political science department in 1911 and the law faculty in 1914. Two years later, he married Ada Hardeman Garrison, with whom he had two daughters.
In 1926, Potts received a doctorate in juridical science form Harvard University and the next year was appointed dean of the two-year-old Southern Methodist University Law School. During his tenure at SMU, the law school was accredited by the American Bar Association (1927), joined the Association of American Law Schools (1929), and instituted evening classes by merging with the YMCA’s Dallas School of Law (1938). Additionally, Potts researched and wrote numerous publications, primarily on criminal, procedural, and constitutional law in Texas, including Custody of State Funds (1902), A School History of Texas with Eugene C. Barker and Charles W. Ramsdell (1912), Criminal Law: What’s Wrong with It? (1929), and Studies in Criminal Procedure (1951). Following his retirement in 1947, Potts became an assistant district attorney for Dallas County and continued to represent the SMU Law School as Dean Emeritus.
McKnight, Joseph W. "Potts, Charles S."Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed February 21, 2011. http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo32.
Santa Cruz, Paul H. "Dedman School of Law Records: A Guide to the Collection." Southern Methodist University Archives, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University. Accessed February 21, 2011. http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00118/smu-00118.html.
Composed of correspondence, subject files, organizational files, legal documents, creative works, and printed material, the Charles S. Potts Papers, 1886-1960, documents the professional and scholarly activities of Potts while at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) and University of Texas at Austin (UT). General correspondence and subject files, primarily containing correspondence and printed material, document Pott’s work on behalf of the SMU Law School and with legal and academic colleagues, including Roy Bedichek, Tom Connally, E. E. Clack, W. S. Hale, John A. Lomax, and others. Correspondents discuss class reunions, possible law course subjects, Texas state legislation, and Pott’s articles on criminal procedure, among other topics. Organizational files chronicle Pott’s work as dean and dean emeritus of SMU’s Law School as well as his professional involvement with the Texas Bar Association, the American Arbitration Association, the Southwestern Social Science Association, the Texas Social Welfare Association, and other local, state, and national bar associations. Legal documents include Pott’s 1891 teaching contract with the Archer, Texas, Board of Schools; his 1900 teaching certificate; and a memorandum of agreement for the publication of A School History of Texas. Creative works consist of book reviews, obituaries, radio broadcasts, songs, and speeches by Potts as well as speeches by others. Printed material mainly comprises UT publications and programs.
This collection is open for research use.
Charles S. Potts Papers, 1886-1960, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers