McCormick, Charles Tilford (1889–1963)

By: Helen Hargrave

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

Charles Tilford McCormick, law professor and author, was born on June 29, 1889, in Dallas, the son of Joseph Manson and Mary (McCoun) McCormick. After attending the Dallas public schools he entered the University of Texas, where he received his B.A. degree in 1909. He received an LL.B. degree cum laude in 1912 from Harvard Law School and began to practice in his father's Dallas law firm. McCormick served in the United States Army from 1917 to 1919 and rose to the rank of captain. In 1922 he returned to the University of Texas as a professor of law and began more than forty years as a distinguished teacher, scholar, and writer. In 1926 he went to the University of North Carolina School of Law, where he served as dean from 1927 to 1931. He taught at Northwestern School of Law from 1931 to 1940. In 1940 he returned to the University of Texas as dean of the law school. He modernized the curriculum, established a legal aid clinic, recruited an outstanding young faculty, and initiated other needed improvements that enhanced the prestige of the law school. Upon his resignation as dean in 1949 McCormick became distinguished professor of law. He was made dean emeritus in 1961 and retired from the university at the end of the 1962 fall semester.

He published Handbook of the Law of Damages (1935), Texas Law of Evidence, with Roy Robert Ray (1937), Cases and Materials on Federal Courts, with James H. Chadbourn (1946), and Handbook of the Law of Evidence (1954). He wrote later editions with the same and additional authors and published more than fifty scholarly articles. Among his professional honors were his appointments by the United States Supreme Court to the first Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Rules of Civil Procedure, and by President Dwight David Eisenhower to the National Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise Committee. McCormick was a member of the American Law Institute; the American, Texas, Illinois, and Chicago bar associations; the Philosophical Society of Texas; and Phi Delta Phi. He was president of the Order of the Coif and of the Association of American Law Schools. He received an honorary LL.D. degree from Southern Methodist University in 1945.

He married Ireline DeWitt on October 19, 1920. He was a member of All Saints Episcopal Church in Austin, where he served as a vestryman, a senior warden, chancellor of the parish, and a trustee of Grace Hall. He died in Austin on December 22, 1963, and was buried at Austin Memorial Park. A scholarship for law students was established at the university in his honor in 1964, and a professorship was established in 1965.

Austin American-Statesman, December 23, 1963. Vertical Files, Austin History Center. Who's Who in America (1962–63). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Helen Hargrave, “McCormick, Charles Tilford,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 17, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995

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