Rare Books Blog

The Constitution of the United States (Hartford, 1788)
February 24, 2014

The Rare Book Collection’s resources on U.S. constitutional history were spotlighted in a video produced for Yale Law School Professor Akhil Reed Amar’s online course, “Constitutional Law.”  The video is available on YouTube, and can be viewed via the link below.

Teaching Assistant Lauren Biksacky hosted the video interview. The featured items included our first edition of The Federalist (1788), the proceedings of the Massachusetts ratification convention, and one of the earliest Connecticut printings of the U.S. Constitution, a 1788 Hartford printing that is bound with a set of early Connecticut session laws that once belonged to Seth P. Staples, one of the founders of the Yale Law School (pictured here).

Professor Amar’s popular “Constitutional Law” class is a massive open online course (MOOC) that is reaching tens of thousands of students around the world, giving them the chance to learn from one of the leading Constitutional scholars of our time. Anyone with an interest can sign up, for free, for the 12-week online course, at the course website, https://www.coursera.org/course/conlaw. Coursera is a collaborative project of universities and institutions from around the world, including Yale, with the goal “to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

 

 

 

New exhibit: "350 Years of Rebellious Lawyering"
February 20, 2014

In conjunction with the 20th Annual Rebellious Lawyering Conference at the Yale Law School, the Law Library’s Rare Book Collection has a new exhibit, “350 Years of Rebellious Lawyering,” showcasing nine historic examples of public interest lawyering.

Leach, The bribe-takers of jury-men partiall, dishonest, and ignorant discovered and abolished

William Leach. The bribe-takers of jury-men partiall, dishonest, and ignorant discovered and abolished; and, honest, judicious, able, and impartiall restored. London, 1652.

“Leach brought his experience as a common attorney, as well as a defendant, to the public discussion of legal reform that followed the execution of Charles I in 1649. … In The Bribe-Takers of Jury-Men (1652) he complained that the fall in money values allowed such disreputable types as ‘needy alehouse-keepers’, who were subject to pressure from their bailiff customers, to sit on lower court juries.” – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


Pearce, The poor man's lawyer

Thomas Pearce. The poor man’s lawyer, or, Laws relating to the inferior courts laid open. London, 1755.

“Therefore Gaolers are the Oppressors of the People; and their Fees are Extortion; and that Thief-Catchers, Hussars and Pandours, are a Confederacy of wicked People, chiefly designed to entrap poor unwary People; and are the chief Causes of Hurrying poor abandoned Wretches into their Wiles and Contrivances.” – page 71.


Eckartshausen, Handbuch fur Kriminalrichter

Karl von Eckartshausen (1752-1803). Handbuch für Kriminalrichter. Munich, 1792.

“The present work deals with historical jurisprudence (early legislation of the ancients as well as Germans and the English) and criminology; included are the theories of Beccaria and von Soden. There is a section dealing with the bad state of prisons.” – Jeffrey D. Mancevice, Inc., August 2008 List, no. 20.


Considerazioni di Francesco Mario Pagano sul processo criminale

Francesco Mario Pagano (1748-1799). Considerazioni di Francesco Mario Pagano sul processo criminale. Milan, 1801.

“Following on from Beccaria and Montesquieu, Pagano was convinced that by means of a reform of penal law existing social and political structures could be changed, if there was enough will for reform. Pagano was one of the most active and influential members of the republican government in Naples in 1799. With the return of the Bourbons he was arrested and executed, despite the guarantees given to the Republicans in the capitulation agreement.” – Susanne Schulz-Falster Rare Books (April 2010)


Argument of William H. Seward in defence of William Freeman

Argument of William H. Seward in defence of William Freeman, on his trial for murder. Auburn, N.Y., 1846.

Freeman, an African American, murdered an entire family with an axe. “His trial, and particularly his defense by former Governor William H. Seward, aroused great excitement because of the plea of insanity. … The case did much to insure a better hearing for the insane who, until then, received small consideration in the courts.” (McDade, Annals of Murder).


Boston slave riot, and trial of Anthony Burns

Boston slave riot, and trial of Anthony Burns. Boston, 1854.

“The trial and rendition of Anthony Burns was one of the most dramatic and famous incidents in the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act” (Finkelman, Slavery in the Courtroom). Several of Boston’s leading lawyers, including Richard Henry Dana, argued unsuccessfully for Burns’ release. After a disastrous attempt to rescue Burns, he was sent back to slavery under heavy military guard.


Argument of Clarence Darrow in the case of the Communist Labor Party

Argument of Clarence Darrow in the case of the Communist Labor Party in the Criminal Court, Chicago. Chicago, 1920.

“I am interested in the verdict of this jury as to whether this country shall be ruled by the conscienceless men who would stifle freedom of speech when it interferes with their gold; or whether this jury will stand by the principles of the fathers and, whether so far as you can, you will stop this mad wave that threatens to engulf the liberty of the American citizens.” – page 11


 pardon Tom Mooney-innocent

Governor Young: pardon Tom Mooney-innocent. San Francisco, 1930.

Tom Mooney (1882-1942), a militant labor organizer, and his colleague Warren Billings were framed on murder charges in 1916. Their death sentences were commuted to life in prison. This pamphlet is part of the decades-long campaign to win their release, which resulted in Mooney’s pardon in 1938. The Law Library has close to 30 items on the Mooney case.


Mr. Natural in Bailed out

Legal Self-Defense Group. Mr. Natural in Bailed out. Boston, 1971?

“Drawn in the style of Robert Crumb, and featuring his character ‘Mr. Natural,’ but signed ‘by a Follower of R. Crumb.’ The Legal Defense Group appears to have been a section of the Massachusetts Lawyers Guild, a left -wing legal consortium devoted to civil liberties.” – Lorne Bair Rare Books, Catalog 12, no. 94


“350 Years of Rebellious Lawyering” was curated by Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, and Ryan Greenwood, the 2013/14 Yale Law Library Rare Book Fellow. The exhibit is open to the public, 9am-10pm daily, February 20 - April 30, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Institutionum: seu elementorum d. Iustiniani (Nuremberg, 1529)
February 10, 2014

Rare book bindings are fascinating objects, which are often beautifully decorated with intricate images. Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) offers exciting new possibilities for safely capturing a book’s surface decorations, revealing details that cannot be seen using traditional methods or the naked eye. A new exhibit of books treated to these innovative techniques is now on display at the Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“Reflections on Bindings: Using New Imaging Technology to Study Historical Bindings,” features books from the Rare Book Collection of the Law Library, which have been analyzed using RTI to show exquisite details from early modern blind-stamped bindings. These details can help us to identify the book’s early owners and understand attitudes about the books within the bindings.

The analysis was expertly undertaken by members of Yale University Library’s Conservation & Exhibition Services team, who curated the exhibit. The curators are Chief Conservator Christine McCarthy and Conservation Assistants Fionnuala Gerrity, Ansley Joe, and Karen Jutzi.

The exhibit is open to the public, 9am-10pm daily, February 3 - May 24, 2014, on Level L2 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

For more information, contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, at (203) 432-4494 or <mike.widener@yale.edu>.

Shown at left is one of the books on display, Institutionum: seu elementorum d. Iustiniani (Nuremberg, 1529).

February 6, 2014

Annotated student books and student notebooks form another trove among the Beinecke’s Taussig manuscripts. A wide range of these can shed light on the structure of legal education, classroom interpretations of the law and noted lecturers, and the reading and notetaking habits of young law students.

Some student books in the collection provide views of a broader humanities education. A student notebook of William Worth (1677-1742), a churchman and classical scholar, offers one example. Much like Blackstone later, Worth became a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, but continued on to earn his B.D. in 1705 and a D.D. in 1719. From 1705 he was also archdeacon of Worchester, and added benefices over a full career. As a scholar, Worth edited Tatiani Oratio ad Graecos, Hermiae irrisio gentilium philosophorum (1700) – also online – and assisted on other works.

Worth was perhaps the kind of “monastic” student Blackstone believed Oxford should no longer cater to, though his notebook reflects moral and historical readings appropriate to the humanities rather than divinity. Among Worth’s readings was also law, in an abridged Of the Law of Nature and Nations (1672) by Samuel Pufendorf (1632-94). The text is a reminder that fundamental legal works on natural law and the law of nations were not just abstract “legal philosophy” but also important for early modern and Enlightenment moral theory, and sat comfortably beside exemplary works of ancient and contemporary history on student shelves.

The Worth notebook at the Beinecke, dated January 31, 1714, contains excerpted works ranging from the serious to the somewhat whimsical. The notebook also has two beginnings, being written front-to-back, flipped over and written back-to-front, with a run of blank pages in the middle. The works, which Worth closely paraphrased or copied without adding his own opinions, partly reveal the balance of history and moral theory, rhetoric, philosophy and literature, with which an Oxford student might be familiar. The excerpts are from:

“An Abridgement of Pufenforf’s Law of Nature and Nations”; “The Gentleman’s Calling” by John Fell (1625-86), an Oxford Dean and disciplinarian; a “Life of King Henry VIII”; Aristotle’s Rhetoric; Cicero’s “Treatise concerning Old-Age” (De senectute); a fragment on “Reading History”; “Mr. Locke on Humane Understanding”; “The History of the First Earl of Cork”; the “last will and testament” of William Petty (1623-87), apparently the English economist, scientist and philosopher; various recipes, including how to make invisible ink, how to marinate 100 herrings, and how to make soap-cakes; and a few copied poems and letters.

–RYAN GREENWOOD, Rare Book Fellow

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