Rare Books Blog

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.”


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.


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.


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.

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