New exhibit: “Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education”

Frontispiece from "Repertorium aureum" (1495)
October 4, 2018

Through the centuries, legal education has both shaped legal literature and been shaped by it. “Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education,” the latest exhibition from the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, shows how the content and design of early law books were employed by both teachers and students.

The exhibition is curated by Ryan Martins (Law 2020), Rare Book Fellow, and Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian.

Three books dominated legal education in Western civilization for almost fifteen centuries: Justinian’s Institutes, Littleton’s Tenures, and Blackstone’s Commentaries. The exhibition shows how publishers adapted each of these works to meet the evolving needs of law students.

The exhibition also examines four genres of legal literature that served as tools for students: visual aids, notebooks, study guides, and law dictionaries.

“Learning the Law: The Book in Early Legal Education” is on display October 1 to December 14, 2018, in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, located on Level L2 of the Yale Law School (127 Wall Street, New Haven CT). The exhibition is open to the general public 10am-6pm daily, and open to Yale affiliates until 10pm.

For more information, contact Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, phone (203) 432-4494 and email <>.

The student's law-dictionary (1740)

The student’s law-dictionary, or, Compleat English law-expositor (London, 1740)..

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