Rare Books Blog

Russian Blackstone 1781
February 16, 2016

The Rare Book Collection’s Slavic holdings are now described in “Slavic, East European and Central Asian Libguide: Law Library”, courtesy of the Yale University Library Slavic & East European Collection. The guide includes a downloadable list of our Slavic law books, which include 24 Russian titles, seven Czech, five Hungarian, four Polish, and one Slovenian. Chief among these is the 232-volume Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi Imperii (Complete Collected Laws of the Russian Empire) (1839-1916). Our most recent Slavic acquisition is volume 2 of the 3-volume Russian translation of Blackstone’s Commentaries (1780-1782), pictured here.

A big thanks to my colleague Agnieszka Rec, PhD candidate in Yale’s Department of History, for compiling and publishing this guide.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian
 

Portrait of Cinque
February 10, 2016

The Lillian Goldman Law Library is proud to join with the Yale Black Law Students Association in remembering the most famous event in New Haven’s history, the Amistad case. In 1839 a group of Africans liberated themselves from the Spanish slave ship Amistad, and their abolitionist lawyers then defeated efforts to return them to slavery.

An open house in the Rare Book Room, at 6pm on February 10, will feature many of the library’s primary primary sources on the Amistad case, including contemporary newspaper accounts and the notebooks used by Roger Sherman Baldwin to prepare his arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. The Amistad, 40 U.S. 518 (1840) (see below).

For those who can’t attend the open house, an album on the Law Library’s Flickr site, “The Amistad Case,” has images from the Law Library’s Amistad collection.

Following the open house, there will be a screening at 6:30pm of Stephen Spielberg’s 1997 film, Amistad, in Room 120, Yale Law School. Please join the Yale Black Law Students Association and the Law Library for this Black History Month event.

Here are a few online resources on the Amistad case:

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Source: Roger Sherman Baldwin (1793-1863). Notebooks relating to the Amistad trial, [1840].

February 8, 2016

Modern academic dissertations are typically rather dull visually, consisting almost entirely of typescript. In early modern Europe, however, dissertations could be quite ornate. The Rare Book Collection recently acquired one of these, a 1692 dissertation from the University of Innsbruck with a lovely portrait of the young emperor Joseph I of the Holy Roman Empire (1678-1711), shown below. The presence of the portrait suggests that the emperor or his representative may have attended the formal defense of the dissertation. The portrait is framed by allegorical figures: on the left, Religion is trampling down Heresy, while on the right Justice beheads a Turk. The artist, Bartholomäus Kilian, came from a family of German engravers.

The dissertation, Manipulus decimarum, sive, Quaestiones X. canonicae et plures controversiae de decimis (Innsbruck: Benedict Carol Reisacher, 1692), is by Kaspar Ignaz von Künigl (1671-1747), later a notable bishop of Brixen, a city in the Italian Alps to the south of Innsbruck. The dissertation is a methodical legal analysis of controversies surrounding tithes.

Thanks to Leo Cadogan Rare Books, whose detailed and learned description provided most of the details given here.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Portrait of Emperor Joseph I, Holy Roman Empire

Free Mooney! Labor's Champion
February 1, 2016

A hundred years ago, a bomb explosion was the pretext that San Francisco authorities needed to prosecute the militant left-wing labor organizer Tom Mooney on trumped-up murder charges. Mooney’s false conviction set off a 22-year campaign for his exoneration. The Yale Law Library, with a collection of over 150 items on the Mooney case, has mounted an exhibition marking the centennial of Mooney’s arrest.

“Free Tom Mooney! The Yale Law Library’s Tom Mooney Collection” is on display through May 27. The exhibition was curated by Lorne Bair and Hélène Golay of Lorne Bair Rare Books, and Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian at the Yale Law Library.

The campaign to free Tom Mooney created an enormous number of print and visual materials, including legal briefs, books, pamphlets, movies, flyers, stamps, poetry, and music. It enlisted the support of such figures as James Cagney, Theodore Dreiser, Upton Sinclair, and George Bernard Shaw. It made Mooney, for a brief time, one of the world’s most famous Americans. The Law Library’s collection is a rich resource for studying the Mooney case, the American Left in the interwar years, and the emergence of modern media campaigns.

The exhibition is on display February 1 - May 27, 2016, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT). Images of of many of the exhibit items can be viewed in the Law Library’s Flickr site.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

 

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