Rare Books Blog

August 5, 2009

The Rare Book Collection’s image galleries on Flickr are now part of the Yale Law Library’s Flickr site. All the previous content is still there – Legal Trees, Dutch Court Scenes, and Provenance Markings – and I continue to add images to these sets. New sets include:

  • 21 images from Francesco Maria Pecchio’s profusely illustrated Tractatus de aquaeductu (1713), a 4-volume treatise on the Roman law of aquaducts and riparian rights (see an example at right).
  • Images of Justitia (or Themis), or “blind-folded Justice with her scales.”
  • Title pages from a half-dozen 18th-century German legal dissertations. Our rare book cataloger, Susan Karpuk, spoke at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries on how to decipher their long-winded and complicated titles.
  • Two pamphlets relating to the prosecution of William Lanson, a leader of New Haven’s African-American community in the early 19th century. Lanson built the original Long Wharf and several other developments. In 1845 Lanson was accused of operating a house of ill repute. Isaiah Lanson’s Statement and Inquiry, Concerning the Trial of William Lanson (1845) is a defense of Lanson by his son Isaiah, and William Lanson’s Book of Satisfaction (1848) is William Lanson’s own defence, including a poem describing the events.

More to come…

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

July 30, 2009

… Benjamin Yousey-Hindes of Stanford University. Congratulations, Ben!

I am doubly pleased to announce this award: first because Professor Morris Cohen is the Director Emeritus of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, and a friend & mentor to so many of us in the rare law books community; and second because Benjamin Yousey-Hindes has done splendid work for the Rare Book Collection. He co-curated our exhibit, The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library, and is presently preparing a second exhibit, scheduled for Spring 2010, which will showcase volumes in our collection that incorporate recycled manuscript fragments in their bindings.

The award is sponsored by the Legal History & Rare Books Special Interest Section (LHRB-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries. Ben’s winning paper is “A Case Study of Canon Law in the Age of the Quinque compilationes antiquae: The Trial for Balaruc,” which I’ll let him describe:

The “Trial for Balaruc” is based almost entirely on a collection of documents that were assembled by the medieval bishops of Maguelone in southern France. Among these documents is a lengthy set of transcripts from a canon law trial in the 1220s. These trial documents can be used to reconstruct two distinct series of historical events: the physical conflict over the walled village of Balaruc (1222-1226), and the legal process that resolved that conflict (1226-1229) … In the paper, I not only reconstruct the narrative of the physical and legal struggle over Balaruc, but also show how the parties shaped their arguments and testimony based on emerging canon legal principles such as restitutio in integrum, and coercion by fear and threats. The underlying message in the paper is that researchers must strive to understand the wider juridical context of their legal sources, for sometimes those sources have been shaped by legal debates and norms that are not overtly articulated in the sources themselves.

See the complete interview with Ben in the Summer 2009 issue of LH&RB, the newsletter of the LHRB-SIS. Ben is a doctoral candidate in medieval history at Stanford University, and plans to pursue a career in rare book librarianship. He definitely has the instincts for a good librarian; see his Internet Sources for Medieval History website.

The formal presentation of the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Prize took place July 26 at the Jacob Burns Law Library, George Washington University, as part of the AALL annual meeting in Washington, DC. Thanks to Scott Pagel, director of Jacob Burns Law Library, for hosting a wonderful reception.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

 

(L-R) Karen Beck (Boston College Law Library), Katherine Hedin (University of Minnesota Law Library), Jennie Meade (George Washington University Law Library), Mike Widener (Yale Law Library), Benjamin Yousey-Hindes (Stanford University), and Joel Fishman (Duquesne University Law Library). Karen is the outgoing chair of the LHRB-SIS, Katherine & Jennie are co-chairs of the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition, and Joel was one of the primary instigators in establishing the prize. Photo by Kasia Solon, Rare Books Librarian, Jacob Burns Law Library.

June 15, 2009

Harold I. Boucher was a great friend and supporter of law libraries and legal history, and a personal friend of mine. I am sad to report that he passed away on May 27, 2009, in San Francisco, a month shy of his 103rd birthday. Mr. Boucher was a proud 1930 graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California-Berkeley, and a former partner of the leading San Francisco law firm of Pillsbury Madison & Sutro. I believe the title he was proudest of was Honorary Order of the British Empire, conferred on him by Her Majesty Elizabeth II. For details of Mr. Boucher’s life and career, see his obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I first met Mr. Boucher in about 1997 when I was running the Rare Books & Special Collections department at the Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin. He phoned to get information about our copies of John Cowell’s law dictionaries. I was thrilled that someone was interested in our collection of law dictionaries, and I began sending him articles and other items of interest. We had many long phone conversations over the years, and I always looked forward to them.

He published his extensive research into Cowell:Harold I. Boucher, Suppression of Interpreter and Denouncement of Dr. Cowell: the King James Version (1997). One of his discoveries arose from his professional interest in the law of wills and estates. The first edition of Cowell’s Interpreter has no entries for “codicil” or “will,” which is surprising given that Cowell was a civilian. There is an entry for “testament,” but all it says is “See will.” So, it’s sending you down a blind alley! The identical error is repeated in the 1637 and 1658 editions, but in the 1672 edition, finally, there are full entries for both “testament” and “will.”

Mr. Boucher was an unabashed Anglophile, as his Honorary O.B.E. demonstrated. He was especially interested in the 17th century, and his sympathies lay squarely with the Cavaliers and not the Roundheads. As our relationship developed, he began donating a number of fine volumes from his personal collection: the first edition of Cowell’s Interpreter (1607) and the 1708 edition; Thomas Wentworth’s Office and Duty of Executors (1703); the 1629 edition of John Rastell’s Termes de la Ley; William Bohun’s Privilegia Londini: or, The rights, Liberties, Privileges, Laws, and Customs, of the City of London (1723); and Tragicum theatrum actorum (1649), with its account and engraving of Charles I’s execution.In addition, Mr. Boucher provided the funds for the library to acquire several other fine volumes, such as Richard Hooker’s Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie (1618), William Hakewill’s The Libertie of the Subject: Against the Pretended Power of Impositions (1641), The Trials of Charles the First, and of Some of the Regicides (1832), and Cowell’s Institutiones iuris Anglicani (1630).

I am grateful that Mr. Boucher chose to continue supporting acquisitions when I moved to the law library here at Yale. He generously supplied the funds for us to acquire Essex’s Innocency and Honour Vindicated, or, Murther, Subornation, Perjury, and Oppression Justly Charg’d on the Murtherers of that Noble Lord and True Patriot, Arthur (late) Earl of Essex by Laurence Braddon (1690), with a frontispiece mapping the murder scene in the Tower of London, and John Brydall’s Jura Coronae: His Majesties Royal Rights and Prerogatives Asserted Against Papal Usurpations, and All Other Anti-monarchical Attempts and Practices (1680).

I had the great pleasure of meeting Mr. Boucher face to face only once, in the rare book room of Wildy & Sons at Lincoln’s Inn Archway in London. Roy Heywood of Wildy was kind enough to host our meeting.

I’ll miss Harold Boucher, and I join his family & friends who mourn his passing and salute his life.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

Harold I. Boucher, Mike Widener, and Roy Heywood. Rare book room, Wildy & Sons, Lincoln’s Inn

Archway, London, June 2002.

Map of the murder scene, from Laurence Braddon, Essex’s Innocency and Honour

Vindicated, or, Murther, Subornation, Perjury, and Oppression Justly Charg’d on

the Murtherers of that Noble Lord and True Patriot, Arthur (late) Earl of Essex

(London, 1690), gift of the late Harold I. Boucher, Esq., to the Lillian Goldman Law

Library, Yale Law School.

 

 

 

May 23, 2009

The following select bibliography includes the sources consulted in the preparation of this exhibit. The image is of the opening leaf of the Liber Assisarum, a collection of Year Book cases from the reign of Edward III (manuscript in Law French, ca. 1450).

English law reports

American law reports

  • Aumann, Francis R. “American law reports: yesterday and today.” Ohio State University Law Journal 4:3 (June 1938), 331-345.
  • Briceland, A. V. “Ephraim Kirby: pioneer of American law reporting, 1789.” American Journal of Legal History 16 (Oct. 1972), 297.
  • Duffey, Denis P., Jr. “Genre and authority: the rise of case reporting in the early United States.” Chicago-Kent Law Review 74:1 (Winter 1998), 263-275.
  • Harrington, William G. “A brief history of computer-assisted legal research.” Law Library Journal 77:3 (1984-85), 543-556.
  • Joyce, Craig. “The rise of the Supreme Court Reporter: an institutional perspective on Marshall Court ascendancy.” Michigan Law Review 83:5 (Apr. 1985), 1291-1391.
  • Joyce, Craig. “Wheaton v. Peters: the untold story of the early reporters.” Yearbook (Supreme Court Historical Society) 1985, 35-92.
  • LaPiana, William P. “Dusty books and living history: why all those old state reports really matter.” Law Library Journal 81:1 (Winter 1989), 33-39.
  • Surrency, Erwin C. “Law reports in the United States.” American Journal of Legal History 25:1 (Jan. 1981), 48-66.
  • Young, T. J., Jr. “Look at American law reporting in the 19th century.” Law Library Journal 68 (Aug. 1975), 294-306.

General works

MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian

“Landmarks of Law Reporting” is on display April through October 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

May 5, 2009

W. T. S. Daniel (1806-1891), A Letter to Sir Roundell Palmer … on the Present System of Law Reporting, Its Evils, and the Remedy (London, 1863?).

W. T. S. Daniel was active in many areas of law reform, and in 1863 he began working for a better system of law reporting. There was wide dissatisfaction with the existing system. The authorized reports were tardy and expensive, prompting competition from weekly legal newspapers. Daniel outlined his solution in this open letter to his ally, Attorney General Sir Roundell Palmer. His efforts resulted in the creation of the Incorporated Council for Law Reporting, which began issuing an official series of reports under the auspices of the bar, which continues to this day.

Daniel presented this copy to “Th. Carlton”, and also amended the title.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

“Landmarks of Law Reporting” is on display April through October 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

May 5, 2009

Ephraim Kirby (1757-1804), Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Superior Court of The State Of Connecticut, from the Year 1785, to May 1788 (Litchfield, Conn., 1789).

Although American courts were producing a small number of written opinions after the Revolutionary War, those opinions failed to be collected or published in any systematic manner. Kirby’s Reports, a collection of Connecticut Superior Court cases published in 1789, was the first volume of law reports published in America. Ephraim Kirby was educated at Yale University and practiced law in Litchfield, Connecticut before being appointed the first Superior Court Judge of the Mississippi Territory by President Jefferson.

This volume is from the library of Simeon E. Baldwin, the professor credited with saving the Yale Law School in the late 19th century. It previously belonged to his father, Roger Sherman Baldwin, one of the attorneys for the Amistad captives.

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

“Landmarks of Law Reporting” is on display April through October 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

May 5, 2009

George Caines (1771-1825), Cases Argued and Determined in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and Correction of Errors, in the State of New-York (New York, 1805).

There was no formalized system of reporting in the U.S. until 1804, when both the New York and Massachusetts legislatures provided for official reporters with paid stipends. George Caines was appointed the first official law reporter for the New York Supreme Court. However, Chief Justice James Kent ousted Caines after only one year, complaining that “his work is too full of mistakes.”

MIKE WIDENER

Rare Book Librarian

“Landmarks of Law Reporting” is on display April through October 2009 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Level L2, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

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