Scanning Nuremberg: Blue grapes again and smoking gun #2

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written June 1, 2015

Scanning Nuremberg shares the observations and insights of Matt Seccombe, Nuremberg Trials Project Metadata Manager/Document Analyst, as he analyzes documents for digitization as part of the HLS Library’s Nuremberg Trials Project website

The agenda for May was analyzing the defense material for Mettgenberg, Nebelung, and Oeschey; this covered 23 files, 259 documents, and approximately 1200 pages. Compared to recent months, the document count went down but the page count went up, as a number of long documents from Oeschey’s court cases gave us economies of scale. Mettgenberg and Nebelung made the now-familiar bureaucratic argument that they simply did office work; Oeschey was a Special Court judge, with more to answer for, and he made a voluminous and more interesting case.

The prosecutor’s use of a defendant’s evidence: By a lucky coincidence, one of Oeschey’s document books had been the in-trial copy read and used by one of the prosecutors (named Wooleyhan), and it has Wooleyhan’s marks and notes about points on which he cross-examined Oeschey and information concerning other defendants. This is the closest we’ve come to being able to see the documents at work in the trial.

The Blue Grapes on the table again: As noted previously, some evidence touches on Judge Rothaug’s reserved table at the Blaue Traube restaurant, where he gathered his circle of friends (or co-conspirators, depending on one’s viewpoint). Oeschey takes pains to say that he kept his distance from that table. (I expect Rothaug will go to great lengths to show that these meals were purely social and nutritional, not political and criminal.)

Smoking gun number 2, or, the other shoe drops: Smoking gun #1 was the document from 1939 in which Hitler announced that he had the authority to reverse any judicial decision that he didn’t like. Gun #2 comes in the summer of 1942 as Minister of Justice Thierack started to implement Hitler’s demand for a systematically Nazi judicial system. In August Oeschey wrote to his brother: “it is an absurdity to tell the judge in an individual case which is subject to his decision how he has to decide. Such a system would make the judge superfluous; such things have now come to pass. Naturally it was not done in an open manner; but even the most camouflaged form could not hide the fact that a directive was to be given. Thereby the office of judge is naturally abolished and the proceedings in a trial become a farce.”

Unfortunately for us, Oeschey continues, “I will not discuss who bears the guilt of such a development.” One suspect was Thierack’s use of “Judges’ Letters” to instruct all senior judges about the “reform” of the system that he was pursuing. Another was the practice of prosecutors conferring with the judge before a major case to discuss the issues and the predicted punishment. Not surprisingly, Oeschey’s letter got a lot of attention from prosecutor Wooleyhan.

Peculiar word of the month: “represculation.” That invites some imaginative speculation, but the rest of the document suggests it was the result of some verbal confusion compounded by a typo.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

The Harvard Law School Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have already digitized NMT 1 (U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al.), NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), and NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), and we’re in the process of digitizing our remaining holdings. We expect to have NMT 3 (The Judges’ Trial) completed and available to the public by the summer of 2015.

Although the digitization of the remaining trials will also be complete by the end of this year, they will require analysis and tagging work before they can be released to the public.  We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact Kim Dulin.

Roof update!

We have an update on our ongoing roof replacement project!

This weekend, probably on Saturday morning, the construction workers will be constructing a protective cover over the main entrance of Langdell Hall. There may be some disruption during the process, but we hope it will happen early enough to have minimal impact.

For safety, the new edifice will remain up for the remainder of the project, currently slated to finish in November.

Areeda Hall roof construction by Timothy McAllister

Areeda Hall roof construction by Timothy McAllister, Research Librarian And Business And Corporate Law Specialist

German Passports and Identification Documents: A History

In browsing the library’s German stacks recently (“KK” call numbers – 3rd floor of the Lewis/ILS building) I discovered a very cool book: an illustrated history of German passports and identification documents from the middle ages to the present.

Der Passexpedient: Geschichte der Reisepässe und Ausweisdokumente – vom Mittelalter bis zum Personalausweis im Scheckkartenformat
Andreas Reisen
Nomos Verlag, 2012

Andreas Reisen (whose last name, interestingly, is the infinitive form of the German verb “to travel”) must have had a lot of fun researching this book and exploring historical and modern examples of German passports and travel/identification documents.  Some have been scanned and included as illustrations, making the book appealing even to those who don’t read German.

When I mentioned this book to one of my colleagues, she asked, “They had passports in the middle ages?”  Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.  They weren’t little books filled with border guard stamps, however.  Instead, for example, they might have looked like this:

According to the caption, this is an “accompanying letter from Kaiser Carl V for Martin Luther for travelling to Worms” from 1521.  This letter was issued during a crucial period in the course of Luther’s life, as he had recently been excommunicated from the Catholic Church and was called to appear before the Diet of Worms to answer for his criticism of the church.  Ultimately, this journey, as a result of which he was a labeled a “convicted heretic,” was a significant stepping stone toward Luther forming the Lutheran Church.

By the 1800s, statutory requirements for passports in the area we now know as Germany were coming into force.  One example of this is the 1813 Allgemeines Paßregelement of the Royal State of Prussia. According to this law, foreign nationals, “regardless of profession, age, gender and religious belief, regardless if [they] arrive by water or land, or through an official post, or otherwise by wagon, horseback, or on foot, whether [they] would like to remain in our territories or simply pass through them,” must provide personal documentation that states one of several acceptable reasons for admission into Prussia.

(By the way, the publication in which this law originally appeared, Gesetz-Sammlung für die königlichen Preußischen Staaten, is available in print through the Harvard Depository.  Harvard’s print copy has also been digitized and is available through the HathiTrust database.  Click here to see page 47 of the 1813 volume, where this law was originally published.)

Examples of passports from the various governing entities in Germany in the mid-1800s follow a common format, with the person’s biographical information listed in the left-hand column, and the description of the reason the person is travelling on the right.

60 61

Photos, however, did not start appearing in passports until the early 1900s.

96

The second half of the book describes and shows the evolution of personal identification and travel documentation in Germany throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  It concludes by discussing the new personal ID card format that was introduced in 2010.

This is a fascinating historical survey of German passports and identification documents, thoroughly researched and well-illustrated with beautiful scanned images.  It’s well-worth a look, even if you don’t read much German.

852 RARE: Open for Research: The Papers of Abram Chayes and Louis Jaffe

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce the opening of two Modern Manuscript collections for research: The papers of Abram Chayes and Louis Jaffe.

The Abram Chayes Papers cover the entirety of his professional career as a Harvard Law School professor, lawyer, and public servant. The collection spans from the 1930s up to his death in 2000, and contains correspondence, casework, teaching materials, publications, and research materials. The majority of the collection is of a professional nature, though there are some personal materials, as well. His academic career is represented by a large amount of administrative and teaching materials, including memoranda, meeting minutes, exams, and course handouts. His work as an international lawyer is documented through a copious amount of court documents and correspondence. Meeting minutes, speech drafts, mementos from work-related events and trips document Chayes’s time as the Legal Advisor for the State Department.

 

Meeting Notes

Notes from a meeting discussing options during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Abram Chayes Papers, box 276, folder 6

 

The Louis Jaffe Papers cover Jaffe’s professional career, which included clerking for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, serving as dean at the University of Buffalo School of Law, and as a professor at Harvard Law School. Professor Jaffe received national recognition for his arguments and positions on the scope of judicial review of agency decisions, and for his analysis of the role of courts in the review of administrative agencies. The collection ranges from the 1930s up to his retirement in 1976, and contains correspondence, teaching materials, publications, case notes, writings and readings. The majority of the collection is of a professional nature, though there are some personal materials as well.

Both collections are open to all researchers and have an online finding aid: Louis Jaffe Papers and the Abram Chayes Papers. Anyone interested in using these collections should contact Historical & Special Collections to schedule an appointment.

 

Scanning Nuremberg: A smoking gun and the electrical wolf solved

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written May 4, 2015

Scanning Nuremberg shares the observations and insights of Matt Seccombe, Nuremberg Trials Project Metadata Manager/Document Analyst, as he analyzes documents for digitization as part of the HLS Library’s Nuremberg Trials Project website

The task for April was to analyze the defense documents of Ernst Lautz, who had a lot to answer for as the chief prosecutor of the notorious People’s Court. He answered at great length. In April I worked through 17 files, 287 documents, and approximately 900 pages. The document count set a monthly record but the page count was below average as Lautz’s attorney submitted many 1 or 2 page exhibits and the economies of scale went into reverse.

Routine under the shadows: Lautz’s primary argument was that he did ordinary business in a legitimate court. The People’s Court was not a Nazi invention; it was established in the 1920s to deal with a wave of political violence, and it followed ordinary though speeded-up procedures. High-profile political cases were managed by the Minister of Justice (the also-notorious and deceased Thierack) and decided by the judges, leaving Lautz (he argues) as the mere functionary in the middle. Much of his evidence seems calculated to show how boring his work was.

Even the boring documents carry a message when patterns emerge, and one was in the routine lead-in language for minor changes in law and procedure: All the changes were noted as the product of negotiations between Justice, the Reich Chancellery, and the Party Chancellery—which meant that everything went through Martin Bormann, Hitler’s deputy, who also had a veto over every appointment and promotion. The whole ministry operated under Party supervision.

A smoking gun: Amidst all the bland routine in Lautz’s material, one striking legal change sticks out, years before Hitler’s 1942 announcement of a future complete Nazification of German law. In 1939 Hitler announced that he had the legal authority to make an “extraordinary objection” to any judicial decision he disagreed with, thus overturning it. In case anyone missed the point, Judge Freisler published a memo explaining that German law no longer depended on traditional sources; it now depended on Nazi policy and Hitler’s wishes. In short, the rule of law was over.

Searching for what isn’t there: Given the necessity of finding where trial documents appeared in the trial, I continued to try to “map” the 11,000 page transcript, first for the cases of all the defendants (when they took the witness stand and made their case) and then for all their document books. Only the transcript can tell us whether a document was offered as an exhibit, whether it was accepted or not, what the exhibit number is (if accepted), and what errors might have been corrected when the document was introduced and discussed. Two defendants (Nebelung and Petersen) proved to be quite elusive. Finally I stumbled on a single sentence where the judges said they understood that the two were not going to testify at all—so I could stop looking. Fortunately I’ve found where their attorneys submitted their documents as evidence. However, most of defendant Mettgenberg’s document books haven’t been located in the transcript yet. After searching through the expected locations, it’s a matter of flipping through several subsequent transcript volumes, looking for the unaccounted-for evidence.

The wolf tracked down? Having noticed the puzzling phrase “electrical wolf” previously, I mentioned it recently to a German colleague, who said “That’s what we call a paper shredder.” It’s a plausible explanation for the phrase, which appears at the end of a secret legal draft.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

The Harvard Law School Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have already digitized NMT 1 (U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al.), NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), and NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), and we’re in the process of digitizing our remaining holdings. We expect to have NMT 3 (The Judges’ Trial) completed and available to the public by the summer of 2015.

Although the digitization of the remaining trials will also be complete by the end of this year, they will require analysis and tagging work before they can be released to the public.  We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact Kim Dulin.

New E-resources

The Harvard Library has an astounding number of resources, with new titles coming in every day! For help efficiently navigating it all, make an appointment to meet with a librarian or contact the Reference Desk.

Among our newest e-resources:

Note: “about” descriptions are taken from the resources themselves.

Bibliographie de la littérature française (BLF)

About: The Bibliography of French Literature, a database produced by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France), the Société d’histoire littéraire de la France (Society of Literary History of France) and published by Classiques Garnier digital. It lists studies published since 1998 on French and Francophone literature, from the sixteenth century to today.

Cairn Pocket Encyclopedias

About: Cairn offers the most comprehensive collection of publications in the French language in the humanities and social sciences available online. In 2014, we expect to place more than 400 journals and around 4,000 eBooks from major French, Belgian and Swiss publishers on the same platform at www.cairn.info. Students, scholars and librarians all over the world will thus be able to access more than 200,000 full-text articles and book chapters online.

Critique littéraire = Literary criticism

About: This exceptionally rich cultural heritage is now available in a modern edition : 152 works and mixed volumes, 34 authors (including Balzac, Hugo, Maupassant, and Stendhal), 100,000 pages of analysis enable the reader to reconstruct polemics and controversies of this period.

Next to the great critics, who were usually themselves recognised authors, we have made room for university teachers and men of letters who only wrote about other authors’ works.

Our selection begins with La Harpe, who may be regarded as the father of all critics : his Lycée was the standard manual of the 19th century, imposing a “classical” view which served as a reference for all subsequent critical adventures. He represented, in short, the authority that, in this century of revolutions, many critics were to call into question. Covering the whole of the 19th century, our corpus ends with Apollinaire and Proust, who, each in his own way, represent critical literature composed by creative artists, no doubt the richest and the most influential.

The dimensions of the texts presented are extraordinarily varied : from the few pages of Balzac’s Preface to his Comédie humaine to the 28 volumes of Lamartine’s Cours de littérature.

Excavations.ie; database of Irish excavation reports

About: This site—which, as far as we are aware is unique in Europe and possibly the world—contains summary accounts of all the excavations carried out in Ireland – North and South – from 1970 to 2013. It has been compiled from the published Excavations Bulletins from the years 1970–2010 and will include additional online-only material from 2011 onwards, with a similar format, but will contain an interactive section for excavators to upload their own reports.

ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research)

About: An international consortium of more than 700 academic institutions and research organizations, ICPSR provides leadership and training in data access, curation, and methods of analysis for the social science research community.

ICPSR maintains a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences. It hosts 16 specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.

Index to American Botanical Literature

About: The Index to American Botanical Literature has provided a service to the American botanical community for over a century, published initially in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club and subsequently in Brittonia. Beginning in 1886, when Elizabeth Britton of The New York Botanical Garden was editor, the Index has provided bibliographic data both on books and articles in periodicals. In 1999, the Index went to an entirely electronic format.

The Index contains entries dealing with various aspects of extant and fossil American plants and fungi, including systematics and floristics, morphology, and ecology, as well as economic botany and general botany (publications dealing with botanists, herbaria, etc.). “America” is defined in the broadest possible sense, encompassing land and marine plants and fungi from Greenland to Antarctica. American territory outside this area, e.g., Hawaii, is not included.

The searchable database includes all those entries published in the Index since 1996, and thus includes botanical literature appearing since late 1995.

Japan Times Archives

About: For the first time ever, the archives of The Japan Times have been made available in digital format. They are searchable and include every issue of The Japan Times published between March 1897 and 2010.

Leo S. Olschki eBooks Collection: Post 2000

About: The publishing house Leo S. Olschki, founded in 1886, holds an important and prestigious role in the panorama of Italian publishing. Following a long tradition, the company is particularly respected for its editorial production in the humanities. The ebook collection contains over 1000 books published after 2000.

Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset

About: This Mountains of Central Asia Digital Dataset (MCADD) consists of a collection of books, journals and maps related broadly to the Himalayas and its outlying attached ranges including the Hindu Kush, the Karakorams, the Pamirs, the Tian Shan and the Kuen Lun as well as the Tibetan highlands and the Tarim basin. These materials are housed in this site, and are freely available for personal non-commercial use and downloading.

Overview of editions of the Code

About: This site brings together the past editions of the botanical Code, presented as web files, hyperlinked horizontally and vertically. By now, there is over a century worth of editions of the botanical Code. Since mid-2011 it is named the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants, but it is best known as the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature (ICBN), a name it has borne from the 1952, Stockholm Code to the 2011, Melbourne Congress. Earlier, it had been named the International Rules of Botanical Nomenclature or Règles internationales de la nomenclature botanique. Earlier  than that, there were the Lois de la Nomenclature botanique of Alphonse de Candolle.

Pierre Larousse, Grand Dictionnaire universel du 19e siècle

About: The Great universal dictionary (reprint of the Parisian edition of 1866-1890: 15 volumes and two Supplements) counts seventeen volumes, almost 26 300 pages and 500 000 000 signs. It is available on-line, offering from a hidden text mode version hitherto unknown possibilities for research.

The Great universal dictionary by Pierre Larousse remains the most extensive biographical, bibliographical and analytical repertory on all topics related to the humanities. It is the only general reference work which gives, for all important figures, so many details of all kinds; it is also the only general reference work to offer such a detailed and careful study of literary, musical and artistic works.

The Great universal dictionary by Pierre Larousse is a veritable library, equivalent to several thousand works on the following subjects : French language; pronunciation; etymologies; conjugation of irregular verbs; grammatical rules; innumerable word-definitions and familiar or proverbial phrases; history; geography; solutions to historical problems; biography of all outstanding men in past and present; mythology; physical sciences; mathematics and natural sciences; moral and political sciences; pseudo-sciences; inventions and discoveries; literary types and characters; heroes of epics and novels; political and social caricatures; general bibliography, the fine arts; and the analysis of works of art, and including an anthology of French, foreign, Latin and mythological allusions.

SISMEL – Edizioni Del Galluzzo

About: La sigla editoriale SISMEL-Edizioni del Galluzzo è nata nel 1996 con l’obiettivo di pubblicare, in primo luogo, i risultati delle ricerche e delle iniziative culturali promosse o collegate alla Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino (www.sismelfirenze.it), che, costituitasi nel 1984, si è da tempo imposta nel vasto panorama culturale internazionale come punto di riferimento imprescindibile per gli studi sulla latinità del Medioevo.

L’attività della casa editrice si è poi notevolmente arricchita e articolata, accogliendo fondamentali pubblicazioni e negli ultimi anni, la SISMEL-Edizioni del Galluzzo, in accordo con la Fondazione Ezio Franceschini (www.fefonlus.it), nell’ambito delle iniziative dell’Archivio Gianfranco Contini, ha ampliato il proprio settore di competenza, aprendosi all’italianistica e alla filologia romanza con volumi di notevole rilievo scientifico e culturale.

Il nostro catalogo conta ora numerose collane, periodici e pubblicazioni elettroniche che affrontano, fra gli altri, temi di letteratura latina medievale, agiografia, filosofia, paleografia, iconografia, filologia medievale e romanza, italianistica e letteratura religiosa.

You can also view our list of recently activated e-journals.

Scanning Nuremberg: The Blood-judge, false false rumors, and documentary dilemmas

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written April 3, 2015

Scanning Nuremberg shares the observations and insights of Matt Seccombe, Nuremberg Trials Project Metadata Manager/Document Analyst, as he analyzes documents for digitization as part of the HLS Library’s Nuremberg Trials Project website

During March I finished the Cuhorst files and covered 2 more defendants, Joel and Klemm, so 6 of the 14 have been completed. The work covered 33 files, 286 documents and ca. 1160 pages. For those calculating the numbers, in the defense files the number of documents has gone up while the number of pages has not, as many of them are very short, often 1 or 2 pages.

The bureaucratic defense: After Cuhorst’s colorful (and successful) defense of himself as a blood-judge who convicted often and enthusiastically but without discrimination or persecution, Joel and Klemm reverted to the familiar argument that they simply tended to their own offices and avoided the darker activities they didn’t want to learn about.

Night, fog, and shadows: The judges and prosecutors present a lot of evidence about looming forces beyond their control that kept them isolated. The Gestapo and the Interior Ministry under Himmler dominated the coercive forces, including the power to simply take anyone who couldn’t legally be charged or who was charged and acquitted. Joel and Klemm also show that the Justice Ministry under Minister Thierack (a Nazi true believer who committed suicide before he could be tried) answered to the Party Chancellery under Martin Bormann, who acted as Hitler’s agent on policy and appointments. In contrast to Roland Freisler, a People’s Court judge known in the ministry as “Raving Roland” (who was killed by a well-aimed Allied bomb), the defendants apparently kept a very low profile (according to them, of course) and avoided asking questions.

Going to the right source: One affidavit explains that in 1942-43 Klemm and a colleague handled the case of a man charged with spreading defamatory false rumors, namely that Jews were being sent to the east and gassed to death. As part of standard procedure they tried to establish that the rumor was indeed false, so they asked the Gestapo, which assured them it was completely false. If they still wondered, they probably knew it not safe to ask more questions.

The prosecution helps the defense: The evidence provided at the IMT and NMT trials was undeniable proof of crimes committed, but it could be ambiguous or confusing about who was responsible. Joel presented an IMT prosecution document (presented by the US) showing that his own office had written a letter criticizing the SA and SS for the abuse of concentration camp prisoners. Klemm presented other IMT prosecution documents showing that the Gestapo had kept government ministries in the dark, and that Himmler was the one who authorized the lynching of captured Allied airmen.

Documentary difficulties: One cardinal rule in a trial is that an attorney can submit documents but only the judges can enter them as exhibits (or reject them). Klemm’s attorney was unclear on the concept, and he labelled every single evidence document as an exhibit, posing a problem for the judges (who sorted it out) and for me, since 80 or so documents are incorrectly identified. The “Notes” field got a good workout to explain the situation. And a cardinal rule for our project is that physical documents and analyzed documents match 1-to-1, but one of Joel’s documents was added at the end of the preceding one, not separately (1 physical for 2 analytical). We could resolve this by making a duplicate image for the page with the second document.

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

The Harvard Law School Library holds approximately one million pages of documents relating to the trial of military and political leaders of Nazi Germany before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) and to the twelve trials of other accused war criminals before the United States Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT). We have already digitized NMT 1 (U.S.A. v. Karl Brandt et al.), NMT 2 (U.S.A. v. Erhard Milch), and NMT 4 (U.S.A. v. Pohl et al.), and we’re in the process of digitizing our remaining holdings. We expect to have NMT 3 (The Judges’ Trial) completed and available to the public by the summer of 2015.

Although the digitization of the remaining trials will also be complete by the end of this year, they will require analysis and tagging work before they can be released to the public.  We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding. For more information about this project, please contact Kim Dulin.

Up on the Roof update

Here are the latest status updates on our roof project:

Roofing work is underway on both the Langdell north and south lower roofs over the classrooms, continuing through the look-ahead period.

During the week of June 21:

  • Masonry repairs and restoration to the head house areas above the Langdell north and south roofs will begin.
  • Ornamental grating will be removed for restoration from the upper Langdell roof locations.

During the week of June 28, roofing work will commence on Areeda Hall.

852 RARE: A Controversial Execution in 1818 Edinburgh

In December 1818, Robert Johnston, age 24, was executed for robbing Mr. John Charles of some £600 in pounds and notes, plus a watch key and chain. This single crime, trial, and execution ignited a swarm of controversy – evidence of which can be found in our collections. We recently acquired a pamphlet, Letter to the Magistrates of Edinburgh … with Regard to the Execution of Robert Johnston, which joins several others in our collection that describe the trial and gruesome execution that followed.

Letter to magistrates

Letter to the magistrates of Edinburgh, 1819, HOLLIS 14401279

Opinion diverged about Johnston and the severity of his punishment. Some noted that Johnston, a 24-year-old carter, had repeatedly been in custody on various charges; in fact, he had only been out a few days before robbing Mr. Charles. Others noted that his parents were “honest and industrious,” and pointed out that Johnston had been thrown out of work due to economic distress in Scotland. These writers thought his only choice was to steal or starve.

All agreed that the punishment – execution by hanging – was severe. Other carters had recently committed crimes in Edinburgh; perhaps local magistrates wanted to make an example of Johnston. Citizens interceded on his behalf, to no avail.

On the day of the execution, a noose was slipped around Johnston’s neck, and he mounted a table, which was supposed to drop suddenly at Johnston’s signal. Unfortunately, the table did not drop completely, leaving him half standing and half suspended, struggling. As the crowd realized he was still alive, they urged the attending magistrate to halt the execution. Soon the crowd threw stones at the magistrate, overpowered the police, cut Johnston down, partially revived him and carried him off. The police eventually recaptured him, dragged him to the station, and continued their attempts to revive him before returning him to the gallows. During all this time Johnston appeared conscious but did not speak.

When the execution resumed and the table dropped once again, Johnston continued to struggle for about 20 minutes before finally expiring. The whole gruesome business lasted almost two hours.

Witnesses agreed on the sequence of events, and all were shocked at the inhumane and error-ridden execution. However, they vehemently disagreed about whether the magistrates exercised their duty to ensure a working scaffold and secure a competent executioner. Some blamed the magistrates; others blamed the crowd (which they called a mob) for cutting Johnston down and thereby prolonging his suffering.

Robert Johnston trial account

Authentic account of the trial … of Robert Johnston, 1819, HOLLIS 4390803

Letter to the citizens of Edinburgh

Letter to the citizens of Edinburgh; in which the cruel and malicious aspersions of an “eye-witness” are answered, 1819, HOLLIS 4388450

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For historians of crime and punishment, it is useful to consult materials like the pamphlets here, which offer multiple perspectives, reminding us that there is often more than one “truth.” These pamphlets also shine a light on issues that concerned the populace and the police nearly two hundred years ago. They show that controversy over the death penalty was, and remains, a recurrent theme in other legal systems as well as our own.

Book talk–and raffle! BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever In the Age of Google with author John Palfrey

We have an exciting addition to our previously published post (reprinted below) about the book talk by John Palfrey this coming Monday, June 22: before the talk, we will raffle off three copies of the book to library staff. We hope to see you there–and good luck!

(Update: congratulations to our winners: Brian Sutton, Julia Brav, and Mary Jane Cuneo!)

—–

John Palfrey imageBiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever In the Age of Google 

with author John Palfrey

Monday, June 22, 2015 at 6:00 pm
Harvard Law School
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East
RSVP required for those attending in person 
Reception immediately following Book Talk

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

BiblioTech by John Palfrey

John Palfrey will discuss his new book, BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google.  He argues that anyone seeking to participate in the 21st century needs to understand how to find and use the vast stores of information available online.  Libraries play a crucial role in making these skills and information available — and yet are at risk. In order to survive our rapidly modernizing world and dwindling government funding, libraries must make the transition to a digital future as soon as possible—by digitizing print material and ensuring that born-digital material is publicly available online, while continuing to play the vital role as public spaces in our democracy that they have for hundreds of years.

About John

John is the Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover.  He serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Knight Foundation and President of the Board of Directors of the Digital Public Library of America.  He also serves as a director of the Data + Society Research Institute.

John’s research and teaching focus on new media and learning.  He has written extensively on Internet law, intellectual property, and the potential of new technologies to strengthen democracies locally and around the world.  He is the author or co-author of several books, including BiblioTech: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google (Basic Books, 2015); Interop: The Promise and Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems (Basic Books, 2012) (with Urs Gasser); Intellectual Property Strategy (MIT Press, 2012); Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Basic Books, 2008) (with Urs Gasser); and Access Denied: The Practice and Politics of Global Internet Filtering (MIT Press, 2008).

John served previously as the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School.  He is a director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where he was executive director from 2002-2008. John came back to the Harvard Law School from the law firm Ropes & Gray, where he worked on intellectual property, Internet law, and private equity transactions. He also served as a Special Assistant at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration.  He previously served as a venture executive at Highland Capital Partners and on the Board of Directors of the Mass2020 Foundation, the Ames Foundation, and Open Knowledge Commons, among others.  John was a Visiting Professor of Information Law and Policy at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland for the 2007-2008 academic year.

John graduated from Harvard College, the University of Cambridge, and Harvard Law School.  He was a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar to the University of Cambridge and the U.S. EPA Gold Medal (highest national award).