Rare Books Blog

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.


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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.”


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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!


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



March 18, 2010

The Green Bag, “An Entertaining Journal of Law,” has selected the Lillian Goldman Law Library to be the official archive of its Supreme Court Bobbleheads. To mark this momentous event, the Rare Book Collection has put a selection of Supreme Court Bobbleheads on display, on Level L2 of the Law Library, in the wall case at the entrance to the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Room.

Adam Liptak, the New York Times reporter who covers the U.S. Supreme Court, published an excellent article on the exhibit, “Relax, Legal Scholars: Bobbleheads Are Safe at Yale”, in the March 17, 2010 issue of the New York Times.

The Green Bag began issuing its Supreme Court Bobbleheads in 2003 with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Subsequently, the bobbleheads have come out roughly in order of seniority, with Justice David H. Souter being the most recent of the sitting Justices (issued shortly before his retirement from the Court).

The bobbleheads have a sophisticated iconography, as Ross E. Davies, editor-in-chief of The Green Bag, explained in the New York Times article: “The bobbleheads are, not to overstate it, a little bit more than toys. They’re portrayals of the work and character of these judges.” See “The Annotated Bobblehead: Justice John Paul Stevens,” at right, for an example.

So far, The Green Bag has issued bobbleheads of seven modern Justices (in order of appearance they are William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Harry A. Blackmun, and David H. Souter) and two historic Justices (Louis D. Brandeis and Benjamin Curtis, author of a famous dissent to the Dred Scott decision). Forthcoming are small bobbleheads of the first Supreme Court Justices (John Jay, William Cushing, and John Rutledge).

Yale’s Supreme Court Bobblehead Collection also includes dozens of “draft” bobbleheads, reflecting earlier stages in their design.

The Green Bag bobbleheads are not the first bobbleheads in the Rare Book Collection. That honor goes to the bobblehead of Yale law professor and Dean Emeritus Harold Hongju Koh, which was issued in 2006 as a fundraiser for the Yale Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society.

Thanks to Ross Davies and The Green Bag for making this acquisition possible, and to Fred Shapiro, our Associate Librarian for Collections & Access, who had the inspired idea of contacting The Green Bag.

The Supreme Court Bobblehead exhibit will be on display through the summer.

Rare Book Librarian

February 28, 2010

I have two people to thank for independently solving my Provenance Puzzle #2: my friend the San Antonio tax attorney and bibliophile Farley Katz, and Christopher Frey of Antiquariat Inlibris Gilhofer in Vienna.

The armorial stamp, shown at left, is of the Austrian nobleman Joseph Anton von der Halden (1665-1728) from Vorarlberg, who was created Baron in 1686. The letters around the border of the stamp, “I A E V D H F Z A H Z A V O”, stand for “Ioseph Anton Eusebius von der Halden Freiherr zu Authenried Herr zu Anhofen und Ochsenbrunn.”

This stamp is found on fourteen folio volumes that came to the Lillian Goldman Law Library as part of the Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. They are all bound in stamped pigskin over wooden boards with rounded spines.

Farley Katz provided his solution via the wonderful Can You Help? website sponsored by the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) and operated by Dr. David Shaw. It enables users to post images and descriptive information for bookplates, armorial stamps, and other provenance evidence that they cannot identify, in the hopes that others can provide answers. It’s crowd-sourcing for provenance research. Farley’s solution to Provenance Puzzle #2 can be found here.

Christopher Frey provided an additional source for von der Halden: Alexander Schneder, “Die Von der Halden in Vorarlberg. Eine genealogische Studie”, in Jahrbuch der Heraldisch-Genealogischen Gesellschaft ‘Adler’, Jg. 1951/54, Folge 3, vol. 3 (Vienna 1954), p. 30-43.

Quoting from Frey’s email to me: “We once had a set with these exact armorial stamps - Leibniz’s Codex juris gentium diplomaticus (Hannover, 1693), which later ended up in the library of King Ernst August I of Hanover (1771-1851). King George V of Hanover later presented the set to the historian Onno Klopp, who followed the King into exile to Vienna. The set then turned up in the library of the Vienna Discalced Augustinians, from where we acquired it.” It turns out that Frey’s firm sold this set to our next-door neighbors, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.


Additional help came from Susan L’Engle of the Vatican Film Library, St. Louis University, and from Klaus Graf.


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February 16, 2010


Fragment: Codex Iustiniani (Italy, probably Bologna)
Date: c. 1275-1325
Found in: Savoy (Duchy). Statuta Sabaudie. [Turin: Bernardus de Sylva, 1530.]

It was probably not mere coincidence that a leaf of the Corpus iuris civilis was used to cover this volume of legal statutes from the Duchy of Savoy. After all, Roman law as represented in the Corpus iuris civilis was the most influential source of legal thinking for medieval and early modern lawmakers. The Corpus iuris civilis was issued in three parts (the Codex, the Digest, and the Institutes) under the Emperor Justinian in 529-534. Issued from Constantinople at a time when the Roman Empire no longer had control over most of Western Europe, Justinian’s laws were introduced in Italy in the 550s, but fell out of use over the following decades. Late in the 11th century the Corpus iuris civilis was rediscovered and students in Bologna began to learn about the law of ancient Rome. The sophistication and scope of Roman law made it hugely popular, and along with canon law it was quickly adopted as the European common law (the ius commune).

The fragment displayed here is from the Codex Iustiniani, which was a collection of all the surviving imperial legislation issued since the time of the emperor Hadrian (d. 138). It contains all of Book 11, Title 1-3 and the beginning of Title 4. These passages contain regulations pertaining to the compulsory transport of public property by private ship-owners. Like the Bible (no. 2), the Liber extra (no. 17), and the Liber sextus (no. 18), the Corpus iuris civilis was heavily glossed in the Middle Ages. The gloss here has not been identified, but may be that of the Italian jurist Accursius (d. 1263) who compiled the most well-known gloss of the Corpus iuris civilis in the 1220s.

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Thanks to Richard Rouse (UCLA) for clarifying the origin of the manuscript fragment, and to Susan L’Engle (Saint Louis University) for the following: “Very little gloss, so probably pre-glossa ordinaria. Initials are blue, stroked in red, typical of Italy/Bologna. Sentence capitals in 1-line red.”

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .[at]yale.edu>

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.


February 16, 2010

Fragment: Decretales Gregorii IX, with gloss (Bologna or Avignon)
Date: c. 1240-50
Found in: Massa, Antonio. De usuris. Rome: Valerio Dorico, 1557.

The landscape of medieval jurisprudence changed radically in the 12th century, when the monk Gratian’s revolutionary collection of canons and decrees known as the Decretum began to circulate, quickly becoming the core textbook for canon law. During the decades that followed, scholars and students identified many issues that current canon law was unable to resolve, and because of this, more and more bishops sent queries to the papacy seeking guidance for cases in their diocesan courts. The letters that the popes sent back to these bishops were known as “decretals.” Since there was no system of court reporting, jurists who wished to keep abreast of the law would copy any decretal they came across. These informal private collections rapidly gave way to more systematic compilations that found their way into the canon law curriculum. Concerned by the lack of an “official” body of updated canon law, Pope Gregory IX instructed the canonist Raymond of Peñafort to assemble an authoritative supplement to the Decretum. The Decretales Gregorii IX (commonly referred to as the Liber extra) was made official canon law in September 1234.

The fragment visible here contains the end of Book 1, Title 14 and the beginning of Book 1, Title 15 in the second column, along with the standard academic commentary on that passage (known as the “gloss”) in the first column. The standard gloss for the Decretales Gregorii IX was written by the jurist Bernard of Parma in the 1260s. The beginning of Title 15 (on anointing the sick) is marked by illuminated initials in both the gloss and the main text. Inside the front cover of the wrapper (not visible here), a medieval reader has carefully marked a passage (from X 1.14.14) using a drawing of a small hand (a notation called a manicula). The passage reads, in translation, “For it is preferable, especially in the ordination of priests, to have a few good ministers than many bad ones, for if a blind man leads another blind man, both will fall into the pit.”

     – Notes by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, Stanford University

POSTSCRIPT: Richard Rouse (UCLA) believes the manuscript originates in Italy or Avignon; Susan L’Engle (Saint Louis University) believes the manuscript is from Bologna and dates it 1240-1250.

Larger versions of this and other images are available from the Medieval binding fragments gallery of the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site. If you can provide additional information about the manuscript fragment displayed here, you are invited to send an email to .

“Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings” is curated by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes and Mike Widener, and is on display through May 2010 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.


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