Rare Books Blog

We accuse : Bill Epton speaks to the court (front cover)
April 21, 2015

…50 years ago.

NEW YORK - Bill Epton stood before the court at his sentencing hearing and delivered the fiery speech “We accuse.” In it Epton, a community organizer, accused the government of violating his First Amendment rights and of committing crimes against humanity both at home and abroad. His political party published the speech a few days later and we recently acquired a copy.

Initially indicted by a grand jury for criminal anarchy, Epton was later convicted of “advocating” criminal anarchy and sentenced to a year in prison for every twelve counts found against him. This all happened because he and his lawyer led a protest march in defiance of a city-wide ban on demonstrations.

Why the protest? On July 16, 1964, an off-duty white police officer had shot and killed a 15-year old African-American boy in Harlem.

- ANNA FRANZ, Rare Book Fellow

Blackstone's Analysis of the Laws of England (1821)
April 13, 2015

“Blackstone’s Commentaries: A Work of Art?”

An exhibition talk by

Cristina S. Martinez, PhD

University of Ottawa


Friday, April 17, 2015


Room 122, Yale Law School

127 Wall Street, New Haven CT


A legal treatise as a work of art? Very few people would confuse the two, yet William Blackstone wrote about architecture before turning to law, and may have brought his orderly artist’s eye to bear in organizing the law in his landmark Commentaries on the Laws of England, an 18th-century bestseller and the most influential book in the history of Anglo-American law.

The Yale Law Library will host a talk by Dr. Cristina S. Martinez entitled “Blackstone’s Commentaries: A Work of Art?” in conjunction with the exhibition, “250 Years of Blackstone’s Commentaries.” Her talk will be accompanied by Mark Weiner’s video, “Blackstone Goes Hollywood,” which includes interviews with Mike Widener and Wilfrid Prest, co-curators of the exhibition.

The talk will take place Friday, April 17, in Room 122 of Yale Law School, 127 Wall Street, at 11am. It is free and open to the public.

Martinez received a PhD in Art History and Law from Birkbeck College, University of London. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa and a Faculty Member of the International Summer Institute for the Cultural Study of Law at the University of Osnabrück in Germany. She is the author of the forthcoming book Art, Law, and Order: The Legal Life of Artists in Eighteenth-century Britain (Manchester University Press) and contributed “Blackstone as Draughtsman: Picturing the Law” to the collection edited by Wilfrid Prest, Re-Interpreting Blackstone’s Commentaries (2014).

The exhibit “250 Years of Blackstone’s Commentaries” is on display through June 2, 2015, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on Level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School. The exhibition will then travel to London, where it will be on view September through November 2015 at the library of the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, and then on to Sir John Salmond Law Library, University of Adelaide, December 2015 to February.

The exhibit can also be viewed in the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site.

– MIKE WIDENER, Rare Book Librarian

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