Saturday, November 27, 2010

27 November 1900: Mysterious Spanish Text Arrives at University of Georgia Law School

On this day in 1900, the Athens Daily Banner published the following story on page 5, column 2 of their newspaper:

Professors in the University Wrestle Over it.

A few days since there came through the mail a book of about two hundred and fifty pages with the following address upon it:

"United States of America, if no law school in Florida, then to a law school in Georgia."

The book came very naturally to the University of Georgia and forthwith fell into the hands of Prof. Sylvanus Morris, Dean of the Law faculty.

On opening the book it was found to be an address delivered before the University of St. Thomas, in Manila. It was in Spanish, and for once the genial law professor was stumped. Two hundred and fifty pages of Spanish was a task too great for him.

So he at once sent the book to Prof. Joseph Lustrat, of the department of French, Italian and Spanish, telling him that he was burning with anxiety to know the contents of the book and requesting him to translate it at once and return the translation to him at his earliest convenience.

Prof. Lustrat replied the next day that he had started upon his work and that within the next three years he would finish the work. He informed Prof. Morris that it was a most delightful book and that after perusing a few pages he had slept peacefully and profoundly.

The book is open to perusal by the law students.

Professor Lustrat was the best choice to work through the translation, for while he was, of course, fluent in Spanish, he also had a law degree from the Sorbonne, and would be familiar with any legal descriptions in the text. The three-year estimate for the translation was due to the small size of the University at the time. Only 279 male-only students were enrolled at UGA in 1900, and even department heads spent a good deal of their time teaching.

Whether he ever completed the translation for Professor Morris is unclear; in 1901 Prof. Lustrat took a short leave of absence, and it is possible the contents of the text would not have been newsworthy enough for a follow-up story in the local paper. (The Red and Black at the time was almost exclusively coverage of the football team and literary societies.) Professor Lustrat became head of the Romance Languages department in 1898, and served in that capacity until his death in 1927; Professor Morris served as Dean of Law until his death in 1929. By then, University enrollment had exploded to 1,834 students, and been co-educational for a decade.

Learn More:

No comments:

Post a Comment