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Rex E. Lee papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2017
The Rex E. Lee personal papers are divided into eight series. They are: I. Reference Files, 1978-1989; II. Jennings, Strouss, & Salmon, P. L. C. Law Firm, 1967-1995; III. Brigham Young University Law School, 1972-1978; IV. Assistant United States Attorney General, 1975-1976; V. Solicitor General, 1981-1985; VI. Brigham Young University President, 1910-1996; VII. Awards, Commendations and Plaques, 1963-1996; and VIII. Memorabilia, 1981-1983.

The Reference Files series is divided into two sub-series: Personal, 1978-1985 and Solicitor General, 1981-1985. The Personal sub-series documents Rex E. Lee's active involvement in the legal profession. It contains information on the American Bar Association, the conferences and seminars that Lee attended, his involvement with Brigham Young University, legal case files, and a section marked REL Personal that deals with his personal life. The Solicitor General sub-series documents Rex E. Lee's work as Solicitor General of the United States. It contains subject files, administrative files, legal case files, as well as files on the Supreme Court of the United States and the White House.

The Jennings, Strouss, & Salmon, P. L. C. Law Firm series documents a portion of Rex E. Lee's legal activities outside of the public arena. It contains correspondence about legal matters between Lee and the law firm.

The Brigham Young University Law School series documents Lee's involvement in the establishment of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University. It contains correspondence and a draft of Lee's book on the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Assistant United States Attorney General series documents Lee's activities as an assistant United States attorney general. The series consists of personal correspondence, chronological correspondence, and correspondence with Brigham Young University. Also included are random subject files.

The Solicitor General series documents Lee's activities as Solicitor General of the United States of America. It contains correspondence, case arguments, Supreme Court briefs, slip opinions, and two Congressional directories.

The Brigham Young University President series documents Lee's activities while he served as President of Brigham Young University. It contains files on his inauguration, files documenting his legal activities while BYU president, talks given by Lee, correspondence, clipping files, publications by or about Lee, miscellaneous personal materials, and a small selection of photographs of Lee and his family.

The Awards, Commendations and Plaques series documents the esteem that the legal profession and others held for Lee.

The Memorabilia series contains clippings related to Lee's service as Solicitor General.

Dates

  • 1910-1996

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Restricted. Closed for 100 years from the date of creation of the records, and thereafter open to the public in accordance with the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Restriction Policy. Requests to access restricted materials in the University Archives should be submitted to the University Archivist.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Rex E. Lee papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services. and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Extent

186 boxes (95 linear ft.)

Abstract

The Rex E. Lee personal papers document the varied aspects of Lee's life. They include materials from his work with the Jennings, Strouss, & Salmon law firm, the establishment of Brigham Young University's J. Reuben Clark School of Law, Lee's service as assistant United States Attorney General, his service as United States Solicitor General, and his tenure as president of Brigham Young University.

Biographical History

Rex E. Lee grew up in St. Johns, Arizona, and served in the Mexican Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After graduating from Brigham Young University and the University of Chicago Law School, he served as a successful lawyer, as founding dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, as both United States assistant attorney general and solicitor general, as a Supreme Court lawyer, and as president of Brigham Young University. He passed away in March of 1996.

Rex Edwin Lee was born February 27, 1935 in St. Johns, Arizona. He showed considerable potential in school and his teachers pushed him to excel. He spent summers working in the sawmill business that his family owned--the sawmills were located in Arizona and New Mexico. By his sophomore year in high school, Rex had set his sights on becoming a lawyer. When the time came to choose a college, his teachers counseled him to attend the University of Arizona and his family counseled him to attend Brigham Young University. A deal was struck that he would attend Brigham Young University for one year and if he didn't like it he could then transfer to the University of Arizona.

In the fall of 1953, Rex and three friends loaded their possessions into a 1943 Chevrolet and made the 600-mile trip to Provo, Utah. They arrived in Provo late in the evening to discover that the supply office for their dormitory was closed and so, while they were able to get into their rooms, they had no mattresses, no sheets, no blankets or pillows, and no electricity. Rex felt very alone and was ready to return to Arizona. He instinctively knelt in prayer and the stifling discouragement soon gave way to a healthy anxiety. After one quarter, Rex had decided that BYU was where he wanted to complete his undergraduate education. After completing his first two years of college, Rex accepted a call to serve as a missionary in the Mexican Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After his mission, Rex returned to BYU in 1958 to finish his undergraduate education. Soon after his return to campus he bumped into Janet Griffin, whom he had met on his mission, and began to court her. They were married in the Mesa Arizona Temple on July 7, 1959. Rex served as student body president of BYU from 1959-60 and upon graduation was accepted to study law at the University of Chicago. Rex graduated first in his law school class in 1963 and accepted a one-year appointment as a law clerk for Justice Bryon R. White of the United States Supreme Court.

When Rex's appointment with Supreme Court ended in 1964, he moved his family to Arizona, where he had been hired by the Phoenix law firm of Jennings, Strouss, Salmon & Trask. Rex was made a partner in this law firm three years later. In 1971 the Lees learned that BYU's board of trustees had announced that the university was going to establish a law school. Rex was soon visited by Ernest L. Wilkinson who invited him to come to Salt Lake City to meet with the committee charged with finding a dean for the new school. Several months later, Rex received a phone call from Harold B. Lee inviting him to become the law school's founding dean. Rex served as dean until 1976 when Edward H. Levi (then the U. S. attorney general) invited him to serve as assistant attorney general over the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice. Rex accepted the invitation and served until January 1977. He then resumed his duties as dean of the law school. In 1981 Rex was nominated for Solicitor General of the United States and his nomination was approved in July by the full Senate. He served from 1981 until 1985 when he resigned.

Following his resignation he accepted a position with the Washington, D. C. law firm Sidley & Austin with a focus on appellate cases. This decision seemed to mean giving up his association with BYU's law faculty. He approached the BYU administration to tender his resignation and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the university had no problem with him splitting his time between the law school and the firm as long as the Lees lived in Provo--a solution that proved acceptable to everyone. This arrangement continued until 1989 when Rex was called to serve as President of Brigham Young University at which time he continued as a member of the law firm Sidley & Austin. Rex served as university president until 1995 when he resigned due to failing health.

Rex and Janet G. Lee raised a family of seven children--Diana, Tom, Wendy, Michael, Stephanie, Melissa, and Christie--while Rex pursued his career. The importance of his family was brought home to Rex in 1987 when he learned that he had cancer. Aggressive treatment caused the cancer to go into remission. The cancer reappeared during his tenure at Brigham Young University and eventually claimed his life on March 11, 1996.

Arrangement

The Rex E. Lee personal papers arrived in the University Archives in several accessions between 1985 and 1997. The majority of the records were in a useable state and their original order was maintained. The Rex E. Lee personal papers are divided into eight series. They are: 1. Rex E. Lee reference files, 1978-1989; 2. Rex E. Lee: Jennings, Strouss, & Salmon, P. L. C. law firm records, 1967-1995; 3. Rex E. Lee: Brigham Young University Law School files, 1972-1978; 4. Rex E. Lee: Assistant United States Attorney General files, 1975-1976; 5. Rex E. Lee: Solicitor General files, 1981-1985; 6. Rex E. Lee: Brigham Young University Presidential files, 1910-1996; 7. Rex E. Lee awards, commendations and plaques, 1963-1996; and 8. Rex E. Lee memorabilia, 1981-1983.

The reference files series is divided into two sub-series: Personal, 1978-1985 and Solicitor General, 1981-1985. Both sub-series are arranged alphabetically by subject.

The Jennings, Strouss, & Salmon, P. L. C. law firm series is arranged semi-chronologically in two main groups: 1990s and 1960s.

The Brigham Young University Law School series is arranged chronologically.

The Assistant United States Attorney General files series is arranged chronologically (correspondence) and by subject.

The Solicitor General series is divided into five sub-series: Correspondence, 1973-1985; Arguments, 1981-1985; Supreme Court Briefs, 1979-1984; Slip Opinions, 1983-1985; and Congressional Ddirectories, 1985-1986.

The Correspondence sub-series is divided into four sub-sub series: Memoranda, 1982-1985; Personal Legal Correspondence, 1973-1983; Chronological Correspondence, 1981-1985; and Invitations, 1981-1984.

The Memoranda sub-sub series is arranged chronologically. The Personal Legal Correspondence sub-sub series is arranged chronologically by type of correspondence. The Chronological Correspondence sub-sub series is arranged in reverse chronological order. The Invitations sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Arguments sub-series is arranged alphabetically by case name.

The Supreme Court Briefs sub-series is arranged chronologically by court term and thereafter numerically by court number.

The Slip Opinions sub-series is arranged chronologically.

The Congressional Directories sub-series is also arranged chronologically.

The Brigham Young University Presidential files series is divided into eight sub-series: Inauguration, 1989; Legal Files, 1910-1996; Talks, 1982-1993; Correspondence, 1976-1996; Clippings, 1978-1996; Publications by or about Lee, 1981-1996; Miscellaneous Personal Materials, 1962, 1988-1996; and Photographs, n. d. and 1994.

The Inauguration sub-series is arranged chronologically.

The Legal Files sub-series is divided into seven sub-sub series: United States Supreme Court, 1965-1989; United States Court of Appeals, 1965-1980; Supreme Court of Arizona, 1965 & 1980; Miscellaneous Legal Briefs, 1910-1987; Jerry Carr Whitehead v. Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, 1992-1996 (Restricted); and Case Files, 1983-1996.

The United States Supreme Court sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The United States Court of Appeals sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Supreme Court of Arizona sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The State of Arizona Court of Appeals sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Miscellaneous Legal Briefs sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Jerry Carr Whitehead v. Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline sub-sub series (Restricted) is divided into two sub-sub-sub series: History of Complaints, 1992-1993 and Whitehead Pleadings, 1994-1996. Both sub-sub-sub series are arranged chronologically.

The Talks sub-series is arranged by type of talk (i. e. religious or secular).

The Correspondence sub-series is arranged chronologically.

The Clippings sub-series is divided into four sub-sub series: Periodicals, 1989-1995; Miscellaneous, 1978-1995; Photocopies of Pictures, 1990-1995; and Press Clippings, 1987-1996.

The Periodicals sub-sub series is arranged alphabetically by title.

The Miscellaneous sub-sub series is arranged by topic.

The Photocopies of Pictures sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Press Clippings sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Publications by or about Lee sub-series is divided into five sub-sub series: Law Reviews, 1982-1996; Magazines, 1981-1996; Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year, 1989-1995; Law Books, 1981-1995; and Videos, 1989 & 1995.

The Law Reviews sub-sub series is arranged randomly by title of the law review.

The Magazines sub-sub series is arranged alphabetically by title.

The Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Law Books sub-sub series are arranged randomly in two records center cartons.

The Videos sub-sub series is arranged chronologically.

The Miscellaneous Personal Materials sub-series is divided into two sub-sub series: Legal Files, 1988-1996 and Personal Files, 1962, 1995-1996. The Legal Files sub-sub series is arranged chronologically as is the Personal Files sub-sub series.

The Awards, Commendations and Plaques series is arranged randomly in several oversize boxes.

The Memorabilia series pertains to the Solicitor General series but was discovered after that series had been completed and is an addition to the collection. It is arranged chronologically.

Other Finding Aids

A more detailed finding aid is available in print in the repository.

Custodial History

The Rex E. Lee personal papers were donated to the Brigham Young University Archives by Rex and Janet Lee in several accessions between 1985 and 1997.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Rex and Janet Lee; 1985-1997.

Appraisal

Utah and American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th Century Western & Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy, 5.VII, 2007).

Related Materials

See also The story of Rex Lee, the father of Rex E. Lee (UA 5536).

Processing Information

Processed.
Title
Register of the Rex E. Lee papers
Status
in_progress
Author
J. Gordon Daines III, University Archivist
Date
January 2003
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English
Sponsor
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

Contact:
1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States