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Memorial Pages for Former Gallagher Law Library Directors

Short biographies of former directors of the Gallagher Law Library

Viola Bird

Viola died June 7, 2007, on her 102nd birthday.Viola Bird

Born Viola Avis Foster in Fall River, Wisconsin, she grew up in Long Beach, California. She returned to Wisconsin to attend and graduate from Lawrence College in Appleton, becoming the first member of her family to receive a college degree. While there she met her future husband, Winfred W. Bird, to whom she was married for forty-seven years, until Win's death in 1976. The young couple resided in Seattle where Win was a faculty member of the Speech Department at the University of Washington. When Win enlisted in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Viola worked outside the home and volunteered more than 1000 hours with the Aircraft Warning Service.

Following the war, she completed the law degree she had started twenty- three years earlier receiving her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 1950. Rather than practice law, she went on to earn a Master of Law Librarianship, which led to her 20-year career as the Assistant Law Librarian at the U. of W. working with her mentor and friend Marian Gallagher. In return she mentored countless young people, instilling in them a confidence and leadership ethic, which was mentioned over and over by guests at her 100th birthday celebration.

In 1971 she was elected President of the American Association of Law Libraries. She retired from the U.of W. in 1973 to begin a new career as the founding law librarian for Preston Thorgrimson Holman & Ellis. At the age of 81 she tried to retire again but after just one day, found herself teaching in the Highline Community College Adult Literacy Program. There she enjoyed a new group of friends from all over the world. At this time she was living at Wesley Terrace in Des Moines.

During these later years she pursued her computer skills and at her death, willed her computer to the young daughter of one of her dear Mexican students, again mentoring the next generation. During her lifetime she traveled extensively, learning about and enjoying the cultures and people of six continents. Viola was a member of the University Temple United Methodist Church for 78 years and 61 years ago became a charter member of chapter CY of PEO. She did not want a memorial service feeling that her 100th birthday party, attended by friends from as far away as Singapore, was a fitting celebration of her life. She donated her remains to the University of Washington Medical School with which she had participated in medical studies for 30 years.

Viola is survived by her daughter, Betsey Downing, grandchildren, Kathie Price, Patti Campbell, Chris Turman, Linda Soukup and 9 great grandchildren. Her daughter, Marilyn Valentine preceded her in death, in December 2006. Memorial contributions in her name can be made to Bridges to Prosperity a volunteer based charity that seeks to empower poor African, Asian, and South American rural communities through footbridge building thereby advancing access to schools, jobs, clinics and markets. (

Published in print on 6/24/2007 in the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I.

Marian Gould Gallagher

The University of Washington School of Law Library was renamed in 1981 to honor Marian Gould Gallagher's "invaluable contributions to the University's law school and professions of law and librarianship. Her efforts on behalf of the law library have not only helped to create a great library facility but also have been instrumental in putting together one of the great law schools in the nation," according to then-Law School Dean, George Schatzki.

A portrait of Mrs. Gallagher, who worked at the library for thirty-seven years, hangs inside the entrance to the Law Library on floor L1.Marian Gould Gallagher

Penny Hazelton wrote this memorial:

Trying to write anything about Marian Gallagher's life, especially for those who will not have the privilege of  knowing her, is like trying to carry milk across the room in a sieve--a lot is lost in the process.

Marian's seventy-five years of living stopped short in October [1989] when she suffered a heart attack, but those of us who knew her realize that her spirit and ambitions live on.

Marian Gould grew up in Burlington, Washington, until she went to college at the University of Washington, where she received her undergraduate, law, and librarianship degrees. After two years as Arthur Beardsley's assistant law librarian, Marian left to become the head law librarian at the University of Utah. Though she planned to spend only one year in Utah, she stayed five because she "had so much fun down there." Finally, one night, she recalled walking completely around a Utah reservoir, "trying to make the moon make a path on it, the way it does on Puget Sound. And it wouldn't do it." So in 1944 she came back home with her new husband, Wayne Gallagher. Her career as director of the University of Washington Law Library spanned another thirty-seven years, until her retirement in 1981.

A comprehensive review of Marian's accomplishments would take many pages, but I will try to condense them here.

On the local front, she built a wonderful library collection and gathered a staff to whom service was paramount. Her Current Index to Legal Periodicals, started as a current awareness service in 1958 for her faculty, is now sold worldwide and is available on Westlaw, in floppy disk or paper format, and can be transmitted electronically. Marian was also an active committee member in the local and state bar associations, the local AALL chapter (WestPac), and contributed her talents to the University and to library communities statewide. Mrs. Gallagher's close relationship with the local bar endeared her to many and has given the law library a fine reputation locally.

Marian's role as director of the law librarianship program through the University of Washington's library school has had a remarkable impact nationally and internationally. Educating eighty law librarians during her thirty-seven years was no easy task. But she brought charm, wit, professionalism, and practicality to her classroom. Many owe their interest and success in law librarianship to her guidance and direction. Even those who were not her formal students have been influenced by her knowledge and competence as a law librarian.

On the national front, she was an active member of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, and worked hard to promote professionalism and fun in the American Association of Law Libraries. Marian served as President of the Association in 1954-55 and is the only person to be honored twice as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award

She was also Chair of the AALL Committee on Relations with Publishers and Dealers when the AALL Clearinghouse Bulletin, the CRIV Sheet predecessor, began publication. Marian served on the President's National Advisory Committee on Libraries in 1967-68 and on other presidential committees and commissions under three Presidents. She held similar appointments under several governors of the State of Washington. Her appointments to many of these library-oriented working groups were significant for at least two reasons: she was often the only law librarian appointed, and she was a woman. Because of her expertise and generosity, she enhanced the legitimacy and stature of law librarians everywhere.

In great demand as a consultant, Marian worked with thirteen law schools in one period of only five years. She served on innumerable ABA/AALS Site Inspection teams, sharing her experience and expertise with others.

If I stopped there, this sketch of her distinguished career would be a very incomplete picture of the real Marian Gallagher. You would miss what I think she regarded as the most important part: her natural inclination to find the humor in most everything.  Marian was fun at work or play. She enjoyed life and made the best out of it. Marian was a rabid Husky football fan, loved to play golf, drink, and play poker.

Marian, affectionately known as Mrs. G., was well known for her wit and charm as a speaker or mistress of ceremonies. What many do not know is that she developed stage fright at an early stage in her career and knew she had to do something about it. She joined the Toastmistress Club and was "cured." What a cure! Her natural wit and timing coupled with experience made her one of the best at her craft. In 1970-71 she gave twenty-nine speeches or addresses!

Perhaps the best tribute is to quote Marian herself. She claimed to want the following characteristics in law librarianship students:

industrious, alert, charming, attentive to detail, refined, imaginative, unafraid of briefing for a judge or getting filthy shifting books, dependable, receptive to taking and following orders, able to direct underlings to inspired heights, incorruptible, sincerely interested, attractive, . . . amusing, cheerful, imperturbable, diplomatic, and Summa Cum Laude.

Mrs. G. was all of this and more. I am proud to be a law librarian because of the kind of person Marian was. She represented the best we could hope to achieve. Though she is gone, she leaves a lifetime of significant contributions and happy memories.  Thank you, Marian, for sharing yourself with so many.

From 82 Law Library Journal 399-401 (1990). Reprinted with permission.

For more information about Marian Gould Gallagher, see

  • Pegeen Mulhern, Marian Gould Gallagher's Imprint on Law Librarianship-The Advantage of Casting Bread upon the Waters, 98 Law Library Journal 381 (2006).
  • Morris L. Cohen, Marian Gallagher: A Memorial Dedication, 65 Washington Law Review 731 (1990). HeinOnline. UW Restricted.
  • Penny Hazelton, Marian Gould Gallagher: Who Was She Anyway, 65 Washington Law Review 739 (1990). HeinOnline. UW Restricted
  • J. Myron Jacobstein, Marian Gould Gallagher: A Tribute, 65 Washington Law Review 737 (1990). HeinOnline. UW Restricted.
  • Charles E. Odegaard, Recollections of Marian Gould Gallagher, 65 Washington Law Review 735 (1990). HeinOnline. UW Restricted.
  • PowerPoint Slideshow

Better Wilkins

Betty WilkinsBetty Wilkins, Law Library Director at the Gallagher Law Library (University of Washington School of Law) from 1982 to 1985 and Assistant and Associate Law Librarian from 1965 to 1982, died Monday April 26, 1999 following a short illness.

Betty was one of 17 law graduates of the UW class of 1938 and was in the first graduating class of the law librarianship program, finishing in 1940. She worked in the Law Library from 1938 to 1942 when she retired to raise her family. She practiced law from 1957 to 1965.

The headline in the Seattle paper in 1939 was "15 Men and Girl Admitted to Bar." Betty is quoted as saying, "Even if you don't intend to practice law, legal training can be valuable as background."

But, Betty did practice, and she did use her legal training in her years of work in the Gallagher Law Library.

During her work at UW, Betty was head of technical services and then public services. Betty probably hired more students and staff at Gallagher than any single librarian before or since. Over her 20 years of service, she worked as editor of the "Current Comments" column in the Law Library Journal and served as editor of the Current Publications in Legal and Related Fields.

Betty was one of those quiet workers who inspired excellence and dedication in others. She cared about people and the quality of life in the law library and law school.

Betty had a lot of class. I will miss her.

Betty's funeral service was held at St. Stephens Episcopal Church on Friday, April 30th. Betty is survived by her husband, Mr. Les Wilkins, 3 daughters and several grandchildren.

Penny A. Hazelton, Professor of Law and Law Librarian