University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

William Stewart Simkins papers, 1862-1876, 1889-1929, 1947-1962, 1980

Creator Simkins, W. S. (William Stewart), 1842-1929
Title: William Stewart Simkins papers
Dates: 1862-1876, 1889-1929, 1947-1962, 1980
Identification: camh-arc-004134
Extent: 3 inches
Language: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

Biographical Note

A long-time professor at the University of Texas School of Law, William Stewart Simkins (1842-1929) originated many law school traditions. Simkins, a South Carolina native, attended the Citadel and as a Confederate soldier participated in firing on federal forces at Fort Sumter in April 1861. After the Civil War, Simkins moved to Monticello, Florida, with his brother, Eldred J. Simkins. There they organized the Florida Ku Klux Klan, an event which Simkins recalled in his Thanksgiving speech of 1914, and which subsequently was reprinted in the UT alumni magazine The Alcalde.

Simkins and his brother moved to Texas in 1873. William Simkins practiced law in Corsicana, Texas, until 1885, when he began a practice with his brother in Dallas. In 1894, he was an appellant in two cases heard before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1899, Simkins joined the law faculty of the University of Texas. The law school mascot, an imaginary creature called "Peregrinus," originated from a Simkins equity class lecture. In about 1900, a drowsy student confessed his ignorance of a Roman legal term and guessed that "Peregrinus" must be an animal. Simkins was subsequently referred to as "Old Peregrinoos." Many of Simkins' publications became standard law school textbooks, including his texts on equity, contracts, estates, and titles.

Simkins married Lizzie Ware in 1870; they had five children. After becoming a law school professor emeritus in 1923, Simkins continued to lecture weekly until his death in 1929.

In 2010, the University of Texas governing board removed Simkins' name from a dormitory named after him in the 1950s, citing his involvement in the KKK. The dormitory was renamed "Creekside Residence Hall."

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, a Confederate army commission, an early Texas land deed, a University of Texas School of Law pamphlet, and obituaries comprise the William Stewart Simkins papers. Of note is Simkins' hand-written description of the origin of the UT Law School mascot, the "Peregrinus."


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no use restrictions on this collection. Publisher is responsible for complying with copyright law.

Index Terms

Personal Names
Simkins, W. S. (William Stewart), 1842-1929
Corporate Names
Confederate states of America. Army
University of Texas. School of Law
Universities and colleges--Faculty

Separated Material

A silver cup has been separated to the Material Culture unit.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

William Stewart Simkins Papers, 1862-1876, 1889-1929, 1947-1962, 1980, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Colleen Hobbs, August 2019.

Accession Number


Detailed Description of the Collection


2L18 [SRH1230009467] Confederate Army commission, April 17, 1862
Simkins photographs
2W99 [SRH1230020093] Portrait, Monticello, Florida, oval, 8" X 10", 1870
Portrait, 10" X 14", undated
Portrait photocopy with law text, undated
2L18 [SRH1230009467] Deed, handwritten, May 26, 1876
2W99 [SRH1230020093] U.S. Supreme Court certificate to W.S. Simkins, 19" X 14", October 16, 1892
2L18 [SRH1230009467] Library of Congress, Office of Register of Copyrights form to W.S. Simkins, August 4, 1908
W.S. Simkins letters to Mrs. Harris Masterson (2), September 24, 1926
W.S. Simkins letter to Bob, December 1929
Simkins obituaries and memorials
2W99 [SRH1230020093] Dallas Morning News, front page, "Col. W.S. Simkins, beloved university professor, is dead", February 28, 1929
2L18 [SRH1230009467] "Colonel W.S. Simkins: A Gentleman of the Old School," The Alcalde, photocopy, April 1929
Memorial Record book with Simkins' newspaper obituaries, 1929
Texas Law Review, W.S. Simkins obituary by H.Y. Benedict, circa 1929
Resolution from the Auxiliary Guild in memory of William Simkins, handwritten, March 12, 1929
Texas Bar Journal, including "Peregrinus" article by Orrin W. Johnson, February 1947
Daily Texan newspaper clipping regarding Simkins documents, May 15, 1958
2W99 [SRH1230020093] "The Legend of Col, Simkins," by Robert Dale Jones, Austin American-Statesman, June 1, 1958
2L18 [SRH1230009467] "Life of My Father" by Elizabeth Simkins Masterson, including notes and correspondence, 1960
Letter from Hoskins M. Sclater to Mrs. Masterson regarding Simkins coat of arms, January 18, 1962
Traditions of Law School, pamphlet, 1980
Simkins family genealogy notes, family tree, and genealogical chart, undated
Simkins' description of UT School of Law Peregrinus mascot, hand written, undated
2W99 [SRH1230020093] "12 Miracle Men," description of 1899 Sewanee University football team, photocopy, undated
2.325/P118 [SRH1230002227] Personnel of the Texas State Government with Sketches of Distinguished Texans, by L.E. Daniell, annotated, with inscription by William Stewart Simkins III, 1889
Simkins Federal Practice, by W.S. Simkins, 1923