Peter Christianson, class of 1977, donates rare 1876 UW Law School Diploma

Peter C. Christianson's graduation photo.
Peter C. Christianson’s graduation photo.

The Law School recently marked a reunion worthy of the school’s history and its graduates.  Pete Christianson, J.D. 1977, is a big Badger booster and avid collector of UW Homecoming commemorative buttons, and other memorabilia.  Mr. Christianson has a long family history as one of five generations of Badger lawyers.  His interest in UW Law’s history would connect him with the Old West and Henry Frawley, another UW Law School alum from 1876, when Frawley’s diploma was put up for auction this past July.  It was in the summer of 1877 Henry Frawley moved to Deadwood in the Dakota Territory, and went on to become a noted rancher and frontier attorney.  After the passing of the younger Henry “Hank” Frawley last year, his father’s 1876 law degree from the UW went up for bid.  Bidding started at $300 and Mr. Christianson got it for $500.

Christianson presenting the diploma
Mr. Christianson presenting the 1876 Frawley diploma to UW Law Faculty and Staff on February 2nd.

The plan then was to give the diploma as a gift to the Law School ahead of its 150th anniversary this year.  Mr. Christianson spoke and presented the Frawley law degree to the Law School at their Feb. 2nd Faculty Meeting.  Speaking with local columnist Doug Moe later, Mr. Christianson said of the time spent on the project, “It was a tremendous amount of fun, and I was just so happy after I bought it to find out they actually wanted it.”

The story gets more interesting.  As chance would have it, there is another diploma from 1876 hanging in the halls of the Law Library.  Clarion Augustine Youmans graduated in the same class as Henry Frawley.  Clarion Augustine Youmans made his fortune in Wisconsin and was a prominent resident of Clark County.  He wore many hats with great success during his lifetime as a farmer, lawyer, county judge, district attorney, and state senator.

Original reporting by Doug Moe A UW Law School diploma for the ages : Alum buys Deadwood resident’s paperwork at auction

Readers can learn more about Henry Frawley at the Deadwood Wall of Fame.

The Clark County Wisconsin History homepage hosts two biographies of Clarion Augustine Youmans.  The second entry has more information about him as a farmer.

Photo by Emilie Buckman, UW Law School Engagement & Outreach Coordinator

Author: Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian


Update 6/6/18:  OnWisconsin, the UW Madison alumni magazine, did a story about our two 1876s Law School diplomas.