Reception honors Morris Cohen and his gift

December 10, 2009

Over 50 of Professor Morris L. Cohen’s friends gathered on December 2 to honor him and the gift of his Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection to the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection.

Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Law at the Yale Law School, is one of the most influential law librarians of the 20th and 21st centuries. He was the director of the Lillian Goldman Law Library from 1981 to 1991, and previously was director of the law libraries at Harvard (1971-1981), the University of Pennsylvania (1963-1971), and the University of Buffalo (1961-1963). He is the author of Bibliography of Early American Law (7 vols.; 1998- ), a landmark in legal bibliography, and numerous other treatises and articles.

In his brief remarks, Professor Cohen told how the Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection began in the 1960s as a collaboration with his son Daniel, who collected early English and American children’s books. By the time he donated the collection in 2008, it contained over 200 law-related children’s books from the 18th century to the present. There is no other collection like it in the world. It provides valuable insights into how popular views of the legal system have evolved over the centuries. It also demonstrates Professor Cohen’s originality and skill as a collector.

The books themselves are simply delightful. At right is an image from one of my favorites, The Quarrel and Lawsuit Between Cock Robin and Jenny Wren (London, ca. 1840).

When Professor Cohen donated the Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection, the library promised to continue adding to the collection. We have added close to a dozen additional titles so far, and look forward to adding more. The most recent acquisitions include A Modern Newsboy at the Constitution Convention: A Short Play to be Used in a Constitution Day Program for High Schools in Cooperation with the Elementary Grades by J.M. Wilkoff (Pennsylvania Historical Commission, 1937), and an illustrated biography of the famous Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius aimed at young readers, Het leven en de lotgevallen van Hugo de Groot by A.C. Oudemans (Amsterdam, 1835).

For more information on the Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection, including a complete list of the books donated by Professor Cohen, see “Morris Cohen Donates Children’s Law Book Collection to Law Library” in the Yale Law School’s News & Events listings.


Thank you, Morris, for this collection and for all that you’ve done for me and the Law Library!


Rare Book Librarian

Professor Stephen Wizner, Professor Morris L. Cohen, and Gloria Cohen at the reception honoring Cohen’s gift of the Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection.

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