Rare Books Blog

February 9, 2013

We sincerely thank the following individuals for their help in making this exhibit possible.
      – Michael von der Linn & Michael Widener

 

Virginia Apple
State of Connecticut Judicial Branch

Whitney Bagnall

Kate Baldwin
Litchfield Historical Society

The Hon. Henry S. Cohn

Judge of the Connecticut Superior Court

Linda Hocking
Litchfield Historical Society

Shana Jackson
Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School

Mark Jones
Connecticut State Library

Debra R. Kroszner
Office of Public Affairs, Yale Law School

Bill Landis
Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library

Christine Pittsley
Connecticut State Library

Emma Molina Widener
Southern Connecticut State University

 

The image: Catalogue of the Litchfield Law School, from 1793 to 1827 inclusive (Litchfield, Conn.: S. S. Smith, 1828). Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library.

“From Litchfield to Yale: Law Schools in Connecticut, 1782-1843,” curated by Michael von der Linn and Michael Widener, is on display through May 30, 2013, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

 

February 9, 2013

Until the end of the nineteenth century most students prepared for the bar through an apprenticeship or self-study. These methods were often criticized by elite lawyers, who believed legal education would be more rigorous and thorough if it was taught in a classroom. By the late-eighteenth century a few colleges offered law lectures, beginning in 1779 with the College of William and Mary, but these lectures were designed not to train lawyers, but rather to educate future political leaders and businessmen.

Vocational legal education in America began with Tapping Reeve’s establishment of the Litchfield Law School in 1784. The success of Reeve’s program, and its perceived value, inspired the establishment of three other schools in Connecticut: Seth Staples’s in New Haven, Zephaniah Swift’s in Windham, and Sylvester Gilbert’s in Hebron.

Into the second decade of the nineteenth century Connecticut had more law schools than any other state in the union. Their proprietors had similar backgrounds. Born into comfortable circumstances, they were mostly graduates of Yale College, who became some of Connecticut’s leading attorneys. Their ability at the bar brought them wealth, fame, and high social status. They tended to be politically and socially conservative. Civic-minded and active in politics, they were involved in public service as legislators, judges, and local officials.

(1) Litchfield Law School. Years of operation: 1782-1833. Proprietor: Tapping Reeve, 1782-1820, James Gould, 1820-1833. Instructor: James Gould, 1798-1820. Number of students: 1,000+. (2) New Haven Law School. Years of operation: c.1800-1826. Proprietor: Seth Staples, c.1800-1824, Samuel Hitchcock, 1824-1826. Instructor: Samuel Hitchcock, 1820-1824, David Daggett, 1824-1826. Number of students: 67+ (lists of students prior to 1819 are unknown). (3) Gilbert’s Law School, Hebron. Years of operation: 1810-1818. Proprietor: Sylvester Gilbert. Number of students: 56. (4) Swift’s Law School, Windham. Years of operation: 1805-1823. Proprietor: Zephaniah Swift. Number of students: 12+ (records incomplete).

– Notes by Michael von der Linn

Map: Amos Doolittle & Mathew Carey, “Connecticut From the Best Authorities,” in The general atlas for Carey’s edition of Guthrie’s Geography improved (Philadelphia: Mathew Carey, 1795). Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

“From Litchfield to Yale: Law Schools in Connecticut, 1782-1843,” curated by Michael von der Linn and Michael Widener, is on display through May 30, 2013, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 9, 2013

“Advertisement.” In Catalogue of the Litchfield Law School, from 1793 to 1827 inclusive (Litchfield, Conn.: S. S. Smith, 1828). [Image cropped.] Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library.

For the most part, Connecticut law schools attracted students through the reputation of their instructors and the recommendations of former students. As indicated here, they also relied on circulars and advertisements. Several were published in prominent regional and national periodicals. Litchfield’s course was completed in fourteen months, but students were welcome to attend for briefer periods. The other three schools adopted Litchfield’s schedule (and charged similar fees).

John C. Calhoun, Letter of introduction to Tapping Reeve, 1810 Feb. 10. Courtesy of the Litchfield Historical Society.

The reputation of the Connecticut schools attracted students from nearby states and, over time, other regions of the country. John C. Calhoun, a future U.S. Senator, cabinet secretary, and Vice President trained at Litchfield, is a distinguished example. In this letter he introduces William Martin, a fellow South Carolinian who will be attending Litchfield. Martin did not choose Litchfield due to a lack of options in the South; by 1810 there were good law schools in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Certificate of Charles Adams’s attendance at Litchfield Law School lectures in the summer of 1812, signed by Tapping Reeve, 1812 Aug. 2. [Image cropped.] Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Certificate of Elijah P. Grant’s studies at Yale Law School from August 1831 to April 1832, signed by David Daggett and Samuel J. Hitchcock, 1832 Dec. 22. [Image cropped.] Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library.

In most cases, bar associations would not admit a candidate to his examination unless he submitted a testimonial letter that confirmed his satisfactory completion of an apprenticeship. Applicants trained at law schools were not excluded from this requirement.

– Notes by Michael von der Linn

“From Litchfield to Yale: Law Schools in Connecticut, 1782-1843,” curated by Michael von der Linn and Michael Widener, is on display through May 30, 2013, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

February 6, 2013

A new Yale Law Library exhibit celebrates Connecticut’s role as the birthplace of vocational legal education in the United States.

The exhibit, “From Litchfield to Yale: Law Schools in Connecticut, 1782-1843,” is on display through May 2013 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School. It was curated by Michael von der Linn, Manager of the Antiquarian Book Department at The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., with help from Michael Widener, Rare Book Librarian in the Lillian Goldman Law Library.

Although Virginia’s College of William & Mary began offering law lectures in 1779, the Litchfield Law School in northwest Connecticut was the first school to provide a focused curriculum of legal training, beginning in 1782. The school’s success inspired the establishment of a law school in New Haven in about 1800, which eventually evolved into today’s Yale Law School. Two other law schools operated for several years in Hebron and Windham. In the early 19th century Connecticut had more law schools than any other state in the union.

On display are student notebooks, textbooks, letters and other documents of the schools and their instructors. Included are items on loan from the Litchfield Historical Society and from Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library.

The exhibit is open to the public, 9am-10pm daily, February 5-May 31, 2013 in the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School. It will also go online here in the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.

At right: Lectures on law delivered in Litchfield (Connt.) by the Hon. Tapping Reeve and James Gould, esqr. in 1809 & 1810 / transcribed by Josias H. Coggeshall. Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library.

January 26, 2013

My colleague at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Raymond Clemens, recently asked me for a list of the Law Library’s medieval manuscripts in vernacular languages. The list is in three parts: (1) complete manuscripts, (2) facsimiles, and (3) binding fragments. You can view images from each of the items in a gallery on our Flickr site, “Medieval manuscripts in vernacular.”

 

PART 1: COMPLETE MANUSCRIPTS

All of our complete medieval manuscripts are in Law French, the dialect used in English legal literature and common law pleading until the early 18th century. The image at right is from one of these manuscripts, a collection of case reports from the reign of Edward III known as the Liber Assisarum. Our collection has a number of manuscripts of Italian city statutes in the vernacular, but none of them are from the medieval era.

 

PART 2: FACSIMILES

The outstanding examples here are the four facsimiles of the medieval Saxon law code known as the Sachsenspiegel. These manuscripts are known collectively as the codices picturati (illustrated codices) because they are heavily illustrated with images designed to help the reader understand and navigate the code.

 

PART 3: BINDING FRAGMENTS

These fragments were recycled as binding materials. Several of them were featured in our Spring 2010 exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.” We have two Flickr galleries devoted to manuscript binding fragments: “Medieval binding fragments,” with 189 images, and a subset of these, “Medieval binding fragments - legal texts,” with 33 images.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

 

January 7, 2013

 

The Lillian Goldman Law Library is pleased to announce a Rare Book Fellowship to train the next generation of rare law book librarians. We encourage applications from recent graduates and from those who are about to finish a degree in Library Science

The Rare Book Fellow will be trained in all aspects of special collections librarianship, following a curriculum designed by the Rare Book Librarian, which includes a general orientation, experience in collection development, preservation, reference and cataloging. The Rare Book Fellow will work for nine months at a stipend of $4500 per month, plus health insurance through membership in the Yale Health Plan. The Fellow will also be given generous support for professional development.

The Rare Book Fellowship is a competitive fellowship. Preference will be given to candidates with skills in the foreign languages most heavily represented in Yale Law Library special collections (Latin, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Dutch), and to candidates with demonstrated interest in law, legal history, or special collections librarianship. Applications consisting of a cover letter summarizing the applicant’s qualifications and describing how this position will contribute to long-term career goals, CV or resume, and names and contact information of three (3) professional references should be sent electronically to Teresa Miguel-Stearns (teresa.miguel@yale.edu), Associate Law Librarian, no later than March 1, 2013. There is no application form.  Please be sure to include “Rare Book Fellowship” in the e-mail subject and cover letter.  Offer is contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

More information about the Fellowship can be found in the attached brochure and on the Fellowship’s website: /rare-book-fellowship.

 

December 20, 2012

Best wishes

for a HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON

and a Prosperous 2013!

 MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

Tree of consanguinity from a 15th-century Austrian manuscript of
Giovanni d’Andrea’s Super arboribus consanguinitatis et affinitatis.

Pages

Subscribe to Rare Books Blog