Rare Books Blog

Charles du Moulin, Consilia quatuor (1552)
July 28, 2010

 

Another provenance puzzle solved! I was intrigued by the inscription on the title page of Charles du Moulin’s Consilia quatuor (Paris, 1552), because I had remembered seeing the same inscription on a law dictionary I had purchased when I was at the Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin: Jakob Spiegel’s Lexicon Iuris Civilis (1554).

The colleague who took my place at Tarlton, Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch (Rare Books Librarian and Archivist) was kind enough to decipher the inscription, and provided considerable detail on the book’s early owner.

The inscription reads “Bibliotheca Slakoverdensis Scholarum Piarum”, i.e. the library of the Piarist college in Schlackenwerth, the modern day Ostrov, Czech Republic. The Piarists are a monastic order dedicated to education. The order’s official name is Order of Poor Clerks Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (Ordo Clericorum Regularium Pauperum Matris Dei Scholarum Piarum).

In an email to me, Elizabeth explained that the order “was founded by Saint Joseph Calasanz, and recognized by Pope Paul V in 1617. In 1622, Gregory XV approved the Constitutions, and conferred the privileges of the mendicant orders upon the order. In 1666, Anna Magdalena Duchess von Sachsen-Lauenburg founded a Piarist college in what was then Schlackenwerth. The complex was consecrated in 1674. The community disbanded in 1876. Major donations to the library included the collection of Princess Maria Piccolomini. In 1910 the library was sold by the last owner – the municipality of Ostrov - to a Viennese second-hand bookshop. There are still quite a few books from this library for sale. For more information, see Wenzl Sommer, Kurze Geschichte der Stadt Schlackenwerth in Verbindung mit dem Piaristen-collegium: Nebst Anhang: Der grosse Brand am 9. Mai 1866 (Selbstverlag des Verfassers, 1866), available in Google Books.”

Thanks to Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch for solving this puzzle for me. An image of Tarlton’s Lexicon Iuris Civilis, with the inscription “Bibliotheca Slakoverdensis Scholarum Piarum”, can be seen on Tarlton’s website, announcing their current exhibit, “Rare Law Dictionaries at Tarlton Law Library.” If you’re in the Austin area, this exhibit is well worth a visit.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

 

July 21, 2010

You can now take a video tour of the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, thanks to Yale Law School’s Office of Public Affairs.

The 20-minute tour is available as Rare Books Library Tour - Part 1 and Rare Books Library Tour - Part 2, in the Yale Law School’s YouTube channel. You can also view the entire video on Yale Law School’s website.

Kaitlin Thomas, Office of Public Affairs, organized the project and conducted the interview. Dan Griffin of Information Technology Services was the videographer and editor, and provided the voice-over. Thank you Kaitlin and Dan!

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

May 4, 2010

I received dozens of wonderful thank-you letters from the fourth-grade students of Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, who visited on April 22, like the one pictured here from Chandler. I read every single one of them. Judging from the letters, the Supreme Court Bobbleheads were a huge hit, as were the medieval manuscripts in our exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.”

Chandler was one of several students who asked questions in their letters. Good questions from good students deserve good answers.

Chandler asks: “Do the old books need to be in hot or cold temperature?”

Cooler temperatures are better for old books, Chandler. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical reactions that cause the materials in books to deteriorate. Warm temperatures, combined with high humidity, can also cause mold spores to wake up and begin reproducing. It is also important to keep old books at an even temperature, because changes in temperature can cause the books to change their shape. In the Law Library’s Rare Book Room, we keep the temperature at a steady 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of 45%. You can learn more from a leaflet titled Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality: Basic Guidelines for Preservation, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Sydney writes: “I never thought the sun could destroy or ruin all those beautiful books! So, what sort of things do you put in the exhibits while the sun is out in summer?

Sunlight cannot reach our exhibit cases, Sydney. In addition, we have taken several steps to limit the chance of damage from light. The plexiglass on the exhibit cases filters out almost all of the ultraviolet light. We also have sleeves on the flourescent light tubes, to cut down the general level of light. For more information, see Protection from Light Damage, a leaflet from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Ever writes: “I still can’t believe that the Yale students get to touch, hold and read the books. Wouldn’t the books just break into little pieces?”

We have special rules for handling the books, Ever. The books must stay in our reading room, under my supervision. The readers use special foam cradles to support the books, they must use pencil instead of ink to take notes, and they must handle the books with care. However, we want students to use our books. The books come alive when they are used. Our job is not only to collect and protect these treasures, but also to share them with students and teachers.

Finally, to all the Ridge Road students who said they wanted to come visit again: Please do come back!

Best wishes,

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

April 22, 2010

On April 22 the Rare Book Collection hosted 84 4th-grade students from Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, CT. They toured our current exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.” They posed plenty of perceptive questions. It was a delight to have them.

They also got a kick out of our display of Supreme Court Bobbleheads…

Thanks to Ridge Road Elementary’s librarian, Lydia Westerberg, for organizing this visit, to the other Ridge Road Elementary teachers and parents who accompanied the students, and to my library colleagues Cesar Zapata and Kathy Eow for their help.

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

April 8, 2010

A brief research guide, Researching Race in the American Trials Collection, is now online. A link to the guide is in the Law Library’s Research page, under the heading “Legal Research Guides. While the guide’s focus is on trials involving slavery, segregation, and related issues, it’s also helpful for researching other topics in the American Trials Collection. Additional slavery resources are available via the Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal.

We’ve added about 100 titles to the American Trials Collection in the last year, including Trial of Thomas Sims, on an Issue of Personal Liberty (Boston, 1851), described by Paul Finkelman as the most complete record of “the first important and intensive investigation of the meaning of the 1850 [Fugitive Slave] Act” (Slavery in the Courtroom, p. 94). This pamphlet is also available online, courtesy of the American Memory website of the Library of Congress.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

March 31, 2010

Over 40 members of the Medieval Academy of America attended our open house on March 19, as part of the Academy’s 2010 Annual Meeting at Yale. The occasion was our current exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.”

After a brief presentation from the exhibit’s lead curator, Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, we set them loose to the exhibit, and an additional 40 volumes in our reading room. We provided forms for them to contribute information about the fragments; a parlor game for medievalists. One of them used his iPhone to show us where a musical fragment fits into the medieval liturgy. Several told us “you should email Professor X about this fragment.”

Those who generously contributed information included Elizabeth Brown (CUNY), George Brown (Stanford), Lisa Fagin Davis (Simmons College), Consuelo Dutschke (Columbia University), Dennis Dutschke (Arcadia University), Joseph Dyer (University of Massachusetts-Boston), David Ganz (King’s College London), Susan L’Engle (St. Louis University), William Mahrt (Stanford University), Hope Mayo (Harvard), Richard Rouse (UCLA), Matthew Salisbury (University of Oxford), Alison Stones (University of Pittsburgh), Rod Thomson (University of Tasmania), Linda Voigts (University of Missouri-Kansas City), and Mary Wolinski (Western Kentucky University). I am adding the information they provided to the online version of the exhibit.

Thanks to all who attended for making the open house a resounding success. One senior paleographer said, “I won’t remember a single paper that I hear at this conference, but I’ll remember this event.”

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

 

Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, the exhibit’s lead curator, introduces the exhibit to Medieval Academy of America members.

Medieval Academy of America conferees studying our exhibit, “Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings.”

Let the games begin! Medievalists examining some of the additional volumes with medieval manuscripts in the bindings, set out for them in the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room.

Photographs by Ty Streeter, Office of Public Affairs, Yale Law School.

 

 

March 27, 2010

The Yale Daily News published an excellent feature on the Rare Book Collection, “Amid legal scholarship, some wacky stacks”, on the front page of its March 26, 2010 issue. Thanks to reporter Danny Serna and photographer Joseph Breen for the considerable time and skill they invested. They were especially intrigued by our illustrated legal materials, such as the Supreme Court bobbleheads, law-related comic books, and the Morris Cohen Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection. Not many rare book collections are chacterized as “wacky.” They meant it as a compliment and I take it as a compliment. Wacky is good!

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

Books from the Morris Cohen Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection. Photograph by Joseph Breen, Yale Daily News.

 

 

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