852 Rare: The Brief, “A Clever Bit of Legal Jesting”

Don’t ever let someone tell you that law students don’t have a sense of humor… there is plenty of evidence in Historical & Special Collections (HSC) that proves otherwise! A recent discovery in the stacks turned up a quirky and irreverent periodical written by Harvard Law students in the early 20th century.

The Brief, also titled The Yellow Brief and Expurgated! The Yellow Brief, was a short-lived publication that poked fun at the culture of Harvard Law School, its students, and its faculty. It was described in 1902 by The Green Bag: An Entertaining Magazine for Lawyers as a “clever bit of legal jesting.”[1] The Green Bag still exists today and can be found online and is responsible for creating the Supreme Court bobbleheads, several of which are held  by Historical & Special Collections.

The format of The Brief often parodies law reviews, beginning with a list of the contents of each issue variously labeled “Contents,” and “Contempts,” and punctuated by non-sequential page numbers (or the same page number used on every page), witty poems and verses, and occasional explanations of legal terms and maxims. Anything from casebooks to classes to exams seem to be ready targets for witty criticism by The Brief.

Examination Rules printed in "The Brief"

Image 444: “The Brief,” Volumes 1, No. 1, pg. 444, HOLLIS 3887862

Legal Terms and Maxims in "The Brief"

Image 444: “The Brief,” Act V, Scene 1, pg. 24, HOLLIS 3887862.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor Beale, who taught at the Law School from 1892 to 1938, seems to have been one of several faculty targets of The Brief. The December 1905 issue, which is numbered “Act V, Scene I,” contains several endorsements from The Brief for Professor Beale’s candidacy for alderman. While it is safe to assume that Professor Beale did not entertain a run for alderman, we’re quite certain he must have been aware of The Brief. One of the May 1902 issues held by HSC has Professor Beale’s name at the top, so he was most likely the owner of this particular copy.

"The Brief" endorsements for Mr. Beale for alderman

Image 444: “The Brief,” Act V, scene 1, HOLLIS 3887862

Another interesting discovery about The Brief is that Volume 2, number 1 (1905) is printed on esparto grass paper. Esparto grass, native to southern Spain and northern Africa, has been used for centuries to make rope, sandals, baskets, and many other objects. As you can see from the pictures below, this paper is quite unlike that used for other editions. The paper adds yet another unusual quality to this publication. This issue was written in the form of a letter to keep the recipient up to date with daily activities at HLS.

We can only hope that today’s HLS students keep some humor and wit at the ready as the school year begins!

Example of "The Brief" printed on esparto grass paper.

Image 444: “The Brief,” Volume 2, number 1, HOLLIS 4050416

Example of "The Brief" printed on esparto grass paper.

Image 444: “The Brief,” Volume 2, number 1, HOLLIS 4050416

[1] The Green Bag, vol. 14 (1902), pg. 297

Scanning Nuremberg: Names and persons, patience, and the role of judges

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written August 5, 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

My agenda for July was to complete the analysis of the defense documents for Rothaug and Rothenberger, and begin the documents for Schlegelberger, the final defendant in Case 3. This material covered 20 files, 234 documents, and 1105 pages of text.

Blue Grapes, again: Given the suspicion that Judge Rothaug plotted judicial crimes at the Blaue Traube restaurant, one of his colleagues admitted in an affidavit that the place was owned by a Nazi leader and that Rothaug and other jurists settled promotions there. The tribunal didn’t care about this, but since Rothaug had a reputation as a sinister figure, this was a bit of character evidence.

Names and persons: The most frequent puzzle in the work is identifying an author with incomplete or varying information. The Nazi courts at Nuremberg had a multitude of men named Hoffmann (various spellings), often signing a document with the surname and no other identifying information. Sometimes, however, another document provides more information, and that will clarify the authorship of other documents; thus, two apparently different Hoffmanns became one, Heinz Hoffmann. On the other hand, one person can become two, given enough information in different documents; thus Hans Meyer became two, with a 20-year age difference. Being able to compare documents side-by-side is the key to this sorting-out process.

Patience (and page-flipping) rewarded: While most defendants submitted most of their evidence during or after their testimony, making the document-transcript linkage easy in those cases, that did not always happen. Mettgenberg’s documents were not ready on time in the trial, so I had to analyze most of his documents without knowing when they appeared in the trial. But two months later, looking for other material, I serendipitously discovered the errant Mettgenberg document books in the transcript and was able to add the information into the document analysis, notably the exhibit numbers and any clarifications or corrections that were made in the court when they were entered. Looking ahead, I found where 8 of Schlegelberger’s document books appeared (with lots of complications explained in the transcript), but he had 9 document books. Schlegelberger document book supplement 1 is lurking somewhere in that 10,900-page transcript.

Rothenberger:  Judge Rothenberger seems to have been a naïve figure with a liberal background (by German standards) who managed to view Hitler as a patriotic figure and discount the extremist ideology. His mission was to reform the judicial system on the English model, and he tried to do this in the ministry in Berlin, re-labelling the project as a Nazi effort. He explained this to a colleague: “We must cater to the people’s taste, essential is only that we remain strong as far as the subject is concerned.”

Phrase of the month: As part of his campaign to raise the status of judges above that of bureaucrats, Rothenberger distributed a memo declaring that a judge should no longer call himself a civil servant but instead “the Fuehrer’s vassal.” The puzzle is why Rothenberger would consider this evidence as helping his case.

Question: The defendants were all Ministry of Justice officials and prosecutors and judges of the People’s Court and Special Court. However, much of the evidence indicates that it was the Reich Supreme Court that legitimized Nazi laws and interpreted them severely. Why were no Supreme Court judges on trial?

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.

Your Summer Reading

What are you reading?

What’s on your summer reading list?

Earlier this summer–yes, despite all the back-to-school prep happening on campus, it IS still summer–we used our bulletin board to ask you what was on your summer reading list. And you told us. It was a lot of fun for everyone here to see the huge variety of titles that everyone posted and to watch as the post-its piled up.

Here’s just a small sample of the summer reads that the HLS community and those passing through posted in our board.

 

 

The classics:

  • The Divine Comedy (the poster noted this year is Dante’s 750th birthday; happy birthday, Dante!)
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel
  • War and Peace
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • The Iliad
  • On the Road

And some more recent fiction:

  • The Martian
  • Doctor Sleep
  • Sophie’s World
  • 50 Shades of Grey
  • Outlander
  • The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
  • La Célibataire

Great non-fiction:

  • 100 Irish Lives
  • Michelle Obama: A Life
  • Silent Spring
  • Between the World and Me
  • I am Malala
  • Hooked
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Books for the young and young at heart:

  • The Cat in the Hat
  • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows

And of course, we had a few jokesters:

  • Everything
  • Barbri books
  • TV subtitles
  • This board

We also got a few responses via social media:

  • Romola
  • Adam Bede
  • One L
  • Approaching Zion
  • Go Set a Watchman
  • Conan and the Shaman’s Curse

Thanks to all who participated both at the Library and online!

As you return to campus and arrive here for the first time over the next couple weeks, stop by the Library lobby to tell us where you spent the summer and/or your life prior to HLS!

Roof update for late August!

Langdell Hall roof, August 10, 2015

Langdell Hall roof, August 10, 2015

What’s the latest work going on up on the roof? Here’s what’s happening at the end of this month:

  • Parapet masonry work from the aerial lifts will continue on the west sides of Langdell Hall at Areeda Hall and will continue daily until the end of next week. The aerial lift will be moving to the east sides of Langdell Hall by Holmes field for the week of August 24. The current plan, weather permitting, is to be completed with aerial lift work by the last week in August.
  • Copper roofing is underway on Areeda Hall and on the Langdell Hall north and south lower roofs and will be completed by the end of next week.
  • Copper roofing is underway at Areeda Hall and will be completed by the end of next week.

Check out the photo in this post to view the progress and contrast the shiny new copper over the Langdell North classroom area with the older green copper still on the main portion of the roof.

Scanning Nuremberg: comparing judicial systems, Grimm lexicography, and more

Post by Matt Seccombe, originally written July 6, 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 June agenda was the defense case of Petersen and the majority of the case for Rothaug (one of the bulky sets); this covered 13 files, 309 documents, and 997 pages analyzed. These defendants were opposites in their roles, as Petersen was a minor figure as a lay-judge while Oswald Rothaug was notorious as a “blood judge” presiding at the Special Court at Nuremberg, with a reputation as a politically-connected Nazi. Even other defendants claimed that “I stayed away from Rothaug, and never joined him at the Blaue Traube,” the hotel restaurant where he was rumored to manage court politics. The Blue Grapes thus became a notable subject in the trial.

Defense by analogy: Petersen made the shared “general defense” that his work was part of a legitimate judicial system that differed from the Anglo-American model (regarded as “softer”) but was traditional in Europe, a more authoritarian and severe tradition in criminal justice. Petersen’s variation was to note that the Nazi courts were a close match to the Soviet judicial system. The point was presumably that if the Soviets could do it and be treated as allies by the US, it couldn’t be criminal for the Nazis to do the same. That’s logical, but it’s odd that the attorney would have thought the Soviets made a favorable example for American judges. Among the historical documents on this, one is factually quite interesting: when Himmler was getting his SS empire going in the mid-1930s, he wanted some senior officers to get advanced training in dealing with political suspects and detention camps, so he sent them to the experts, in the USSR.

Phrase of the month: As part of the general argument that the judges knew nothing of what went on inside the concentration camps, Petersen introduced vivid testimony from the IMT about how rumors of extermination operations were forcefully denied while the camps ran in “an iron ring of silence.”

Evidence of the month: Responding to evidence that Petersen had known about some form of extermination, Petersen presented counter-evidence about the meaning of the words used, including definitions provided by the Brothers Grimm, who had been lexicographers among other pursuits.

The prosecution over-makes its case: After presenting evidence that Rothaug’s court had dispensed death sentences indiscriminately, adding a list all the death sentences carried out, Rothaug responded with detailed evidence about several of the listed cases, showing that they had been handled scrupulously. Our copy of that document book has a prosecutor’s handwritten note: “Object to entire book” on grounds of irrelevance since those cases hadn’t been cited by the prosecution as improper. The tribunal overruled, since the prosecution had at least implied that Rothaug had operated indiscriminately; the defense material was accepted.

Name of the month: One of Rothaug’s documents is signed by “Dr. Orgg.” We have some surprising names in our authors’ list, including Tom Paine and Plato, and some very strange spellings, but I have a hard time with “Orgg.” I expect it’s a typo, but all we have to go on is the name as stated on the typescript, so Dr. Orgg goes in as an author.

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.

Thanks, Heather!

heather betty rubble smart

Heather Pierce-Lopez (center) with Amelia Bingham “Seaweed” and her son

Librarians are used to getting thanks from patrons on a regular basis, but some thanks are extra special. Our own document delivery assistant and librarian extraordinaire Heather Pierce-Lopez recently reported the following meeting:

“Remember that 1665 Indian land deed I found a while back? Well a tribal elder and her son came by to thank me for finding this deed that no one has been able to locate for the last 40 years. I am honored to have met such an amazing woman. She even gave me a signed copy of her book.

“Thanks for letting me be a part of this adventure.”

Last Chance to See Summer Exhibits!

If you find yourself in or around Langdell Hall next week, stop by the Caspersen Room to see our two exhibits, both in their final week. It was a Dark and Stormy Semester: Portrayals of Harvard Law School in Literature and By Popular Demand, an exhibit of items from Historical & Special Collections selected by HLS students, are both on view Monday-Friday from 9-5 through Friday August 14.

New York Times renewals for HLS community

the-new-york-times2Members of the Harvard Law School community, it is time to renew your Group Pass access for our NYTimes.com subscription!

As you may know, the Harvard Law School Library has a Group Pass for the NYTimes.com.  All HLS faculty, students, and staff may use this Group Pass to create an individual user account similar to the fee-based digital subscription for the NYTimes.com plus SmartPhone App. Every August, all users must re-register to continue access regardless of when they initially registeredRenewal only takes a moment. New users and incoming students (once their Harvard credentials are set up) are welcome to sign up anytime.  

Here’s how to do it:

If you are renewing your Group Pass access:

  • Go to our Group Pass link.
  • Enter your HLS Me credentials.
  • Choose the “Log in to Continue” button.
  • Enter your current username and password.
  • You’re all set!

 If you have never registered with NYTimes.com:

  • Go to our Group Pass link. 
  • Enter your HLS Me credentials.
  • Follow the instructions to create an account and register for your new pass.

If you have never registered for a Group Pass, but have registered an account with NYTimes.com: 

  • Go to our Group Pass link.
  • Enter your HLS Me credentials.
  • If you are already a non-paying subscriber (i.e. you are registered to received free 10 monthly articles), be sure to choose the “Log in to Continue” button. The group pass will be added to your existing account.
  • If you already have an existing paid subscription for digital access to the NYTimes.com you must first cancel your subscription before joining the HLS group pass. You may cancel your existing digital subscription by calling Customer Care at (800) 591-9233.
  • Paid subscribers will not be reimbursed for cancellation. You may want to time your registration accordingly.

Other points to note: 

  • Our group pass covers computers, laptops and SmartPhone devices only.  It will not work on your tablet apps, but it will work using your tablet’s browser.
  • Our site license is for the Law School only and it is not available to alumni.  

We hope you enjoy this resource. For assistance or questions, please contact the Library.

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