John Henry Wigmore, a legal scholar best known for authoring the classic Treatise on Evidence, joined the faculty of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in 1893 and became the first full-time dean of the Law School in 1901. During his tenure as dean, which lasted until 1929, Wigmore transformed the Law School into a world-class institution, recruiting prominent faculty, innovating legal education in his construction of the curriculum, establishing various law publications, and leading the effort to build a Chicago campus for Northwestern’s professional schools. After stepping down as dean, he continued on as a professor and remained a pivotal figure at Northwestern Law until his death in 1943.
During World War I, Wigmore took a leave of absence from his duties as dean to serve as a major in the office of the Judge Advocate General of the United States Army. The Army made good use of Wigmore’s legal expertise; he was a key figure in the administration of the Selective Service Act and helped draft the Soldiers’ and the Sailors’ Civil Relief Act of 1918. As a testament to his involvement at the top levels of the war effort, he was promoted twice, and returned to the Law School in 1919 as a colonel.