William R. Roalfe
Law Librarian, 1930-1946, Law Librarian and Professor of Law, 1946

After serving as the law librarian at the University of Southern California under Dean Justin Miller for three years, William R. Roalfe joined Miller at Duke Law in 1930, as the university’s first full-time law librarian.  Under his direction the library grew from 12,500 volumes in 1930 to over forty thousand in 1932, and became the largest law library in the South.  In 1946 the library reached seventy-nine thousand volumes.  Roalfe was highly involved in the American Association of Law Libraries.  He was President of the Association from 1935 to 1936, an Executive Committee member from 1934-1937 and 1943-1944, and frequently served on other committees in the Association.  He wrote several books,  and submitted articles to Law Library Journal on a regular basis.  His suggestions for the mission and structure of the Association, known as the Roalfe Plan, guided the organization for several decades.  Roalfe left Duke in 1946 to become the law librarian at Northwestern.

Roalfe completed an LL.B. in 1922 at the University of Southern California and practiced law for several years, then became the law librarian at his alma mater in 1927.  During World War II Roalfe worked as an attorney for the Office of Price Administration.  He received an honorary LL.D. degree from Temple University in 1959.  Roalfe remained on the faculty at Northwestern, receiving emeritus status in 1965.  He died in 1979.


Biographical Statement, William R. Roalfe Papers, 1930-1962 [perma.cc/5JK6-HKFZ], American Library Association Archives (last viewed April 20, 2015)

Duke University, School of Law, Bulletin of Duke University School of Law [serial]

Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part I)[https://perma.cc/K4QM-XH3A], vol. LXVI, no. 3, July 1989 North Carolina History Review 321

Robert F. Durden, The Rebuilding of Duke University's School of Law, 1925-1947 (Part II)[https://perma.cc/V2QP-KHR2], vol. LXVI, no. 4, October 1989 North Carolina History Review 443

Robert F. Durden, The Launching of Duke University, 1924-1949 (1993)

William R. Roalfe, The Duke University Law Library: An Account of Its Development, 35 Law Library Journal 41 (1942)

William R. Roalfe
Historic Faculty