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Library Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library of The Catholic University of America is to support the educational, instructional and research needs of the Law School’s faculty and students, while advancing the development of legal scholarship and law librarianship. The Library also serves as a source of legal information for the CUA community, our alumni, the practicing bar, and members of the general community, as defined in the Law Library Visitor Guidelines. 

The Library staff accomplishes this mission by: 

  • Building, organizing and preserving a collection of resources, balanced between traditional and new media, which supports the evolving teaching and research needs of the Law School faculty and students, with special emphasis on the subject matter of the Law School’s institutes, journals and clinical programs. 

  • Implementing services, instruction and technology to provide the best access to information and research expertise possible for our users. 

  • Supporting our unique Catholic heritage with resources, projects and collection development. We also recognize a special commitment to acquiring materials in law and religion. 

  • Fostering research, education and leadership in law librarianship by supporting staff participation in library professional organizations and mentoring opportunities for successive generations of law librarians. 

In this undertaking, we are dedicated to maintaining an environment that is conducive to study, research and scholarship reflective of the Statement of Aims and Goals of the Catholic University of America to be a place that is “intellectually stimulating and characterized by the generosity and mutual support required for collegial life and personal growth.” 

A Brief History of the Law Library

The Catholic University School of Law was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1897. For more than 50 years the school was housed in McMahon hall on The Catholic University campus – a location it occupied until merging in 1954 with the Columbus University Law School, an institution originally created by the Catholic men’s organization, the Knights of Columbus, for returning World War I veterans. At the time of merger the law school changed its name to the Columbus School of Law of The Catholic University of America. As part of this consolidation, the law school not only moved to a downtown location at 1323 18th Street, N.W., the former home of John Foster Dulles, but also inherited a large nighttime division. One of the earliest records of the size of the library’s collection, 23,000 volumes, was reported just after consolidation of the two law schools at the Dulles venue. It is generally believed that the majority of the books in the collection came to the library from the Columbus University.

Move Back to Campus 

Twelve years later, in 1966, the law school moved back to the University’s campus to occupy a new building, Leahy Hall, which by then housed some 414 day and evening students, and whose library had shelving for 85,000 – 90,000 volumes. It was about this time that the library also took the name of a former Dean, Reverend Robert J. White. By 1970 the library reported that the collection had grown to 60,000 volumes. However, much of the library’s content was the result of frequent visits to the Library of Congress’s Gift and Exchange Unit where Library Director John Valerie and Associate Director Patrick Petit selected needed volumes from materials categorized as duplicate items that the Library of Congress no longer wanted. These duplicates filled large gaps in the holdings of the collection.

The major hurdle to increasing the size and scope of the collection was insufficient funding, and this issue would remain a handicap until 1988 when Professor Steve Margeton became the new library director. In 1989 funding for the library improved significantly as Dean Ralph Rohner designated a larger share of the law school budget for library materials and staff. The next two decades brought substantial collection growth. 

DuFour Law Library 

In 1994 the law school and library moved across campus to John McCormack Road. The library was then renamed the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library, honoring a local Maryland jurist and benefactor of the law school. The new library boasted a large microform reading room and shelving capacity for 225,000 hardcopy volumes, as well as provisions for compact shelving to accommodate the expanding collection.

Judge Kathryn J. DuFour

Adapted from the Maryland Women's History Archive with the permission of the Montgomery County Commission for Women. 

Judge Kathryn Lawlor Shook DuFour was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1910. She was raised in Hollywood, California. In Hollywood, she pursued a career as an actress and played some parts in a few films. Her mother, highly disapproving of her career, persuaded her to give up the movie business and to finish high school. After graduating from Hollywood High School, she married Lawrence Lawlor, a trial attorney with the Veterans Administration.

Due to her husband’s position, Lawlor moved frequently around the country, finally settling in Montgomery County, Maryland, in the early 1930s. In 1933, Lawlor entered Washington College of Law at American University in Washington D.C. “I got tired of waiting for my husband while he was trying federal cases, and went to law school myself,” she explained to a Montgomery County newspaper in 1960. After receiving a degree of J.D. from American University in 1936, Lawlor worked for the Legal Aid Bureau of Washington D.C. Then, she entered private practice, first in Washington and later in Silver Spring, Maryland. Lawlor was admitted to the D.C. bar in 1936, the Maryland bar in 1942, and to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948. She remained in private practice until 1955.

During those years, Lawlor was involved in the community and gradually became involved in political affairs. She was active in the Chevy-Chase Citizens Committee, where she served as its secretary-treasurer. A registered Republican, she convinced the Republican Party to promote her as a candidate. Lawlor was elected to the Montgomery County Council, serving from 1950 to 1952. She also served as President of the Republican Federation of Montgomery County. In 1953, Lawlor was appointed by the Maryland governor to fill a vacancy in the House of Delegates, where she served for one year.

In 1955 Governor McKeldin appointed her to a vacancy on the Circuit Court bench, and on May 13, 1955, Lawlor was sworn in as the first woman Circuit Court judge in Maryland. Her appointment caused a shock in the law community. One Frederick County lawyer called it a "disaster." The judge that Lawlor had replaced tried to persuade McKeldin to reconsider his appointment because the judiciary was "no place for a woman." "I was a judge who was a woman, not a woman who was a judge," Lawlor later disclosed to a local newspaper in 1985 recollecting the controversy of her appointment. According to Lawlor, the only problem confronting her as a woman on the bench was that people did not know whether to call her "Mrs. or Judge." "I am a judge, the same as a woman doctor is a doctor," Lawlor clarified. In 1956, she was easily elected for a 15-year term. Well known for her opposition to the death penalty, she became the first Maryland judge to publicly take a stand against capital punishment.

In 1957 Lawlor’s husband died after a long illness. Four years later, Lawlor married Donald G. Shook. In 1966, Lawlor Shook made history again. She became the first woman chief judge of Maryland’s Sixth Judicial Circuit Court, encompassing Montgomery and Frederick counties. Seven years later, her second husband died. In 1971, she married Raymond A. DuFour, and later in the year, Lawlor Shook DuFour retired.

After retiring, she became very active in the Roman Catholic Church. In 1979, she met Mother Theresa, and with her husband sponsored her trip to Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize that same year. Judge DuFour also became a benefactor of The Catholic University of America. In her honor, the Catholic University law library in 1994 was named the Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library. That same year, she named a full scholarship in memory of her daughter Joan Lawlor Emerson. The scholarship is given each year to a second year female student based on need, as well as academic standing and community service. "It is just so wonderful to hear that I could make a difference, enabling these students with some relief from the financial burden of law school and allowing them to get on with their lives," Lawlor Shook DuFour explained to the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America.

During her career, she received several honors. In 1952, she was the recipient of the Good Government Award from the Bethesda Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1958, she received the American University Alumni Association Distinguished Recognition Award. The Catholic University of America honored her with the 1999 James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, that is awarded for service to the Roman Catholic Church, The Catholic University of America, and the nation. When Sandra O’Connor was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, she sent a letter to Judge DuFour honoring her breakthrough in the judiciary. "You have helped paved the way all the way from Maryland," the letter stated.

In 2002, Judge Dufour was included in a list of 30 women of historical significance to Montgomery County, Maryland, developed by the Montgomery County Commission for Women, and in 2003, she was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame.

Judge DuFour passed away February 2005.

See also the article linked below from CUA Lawyer, Spring 2003, page 8