Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Explore (and watch!) the history of the Ames Moot Court Competition!

The Ames Moot Court competition has been around for over 100 years, and thanks to a lot of hard work from both HLS Library and HLS Communications staff you can now explore that 100+ year history online!

The Ames Moot Court Competition website contains a history of the competition, the judges who have participated over the decades, best oralist and best brief winners, and recordings of many of the competitions dating back to 1974. One of the most exciting outcomes of this project is exposing footage of U.S. Supreme Court justices speaking from the bench—something that we don’t normally have the privilege to experience unless we’re at the Supreme Court in person!

The video below features Deval Patrick (HLS ’82), the former Massachusetts governor who won best oralist that year (skip ahead to 1:23:40 in the video to see him speak!), and a young Howell Jackson (HLS ’82) when he was also a student here. Professor Jackson was on the opposing team, which won best overall brief. The judges that year were Hon. Henry J. Friendly (HLS ’27), U.S. Court of Appeals for The Second Circuit, whose papers are held by Historical & Special Collections; Hon. Patricia Wald, U.S. Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia Circuit; and Hon. Nathaniel Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for The Sixth Circuit.

Book Talk: Nazi-Looted Art and the Law: The American Cases, Wednesday, March 28, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk for Nazi-Looted Art and the Law: The American Cases by Bruce L. Hay (Springer, Jan. 25, 2018). Bruce L. Hay is Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

Nazi-Looted Art and the Law

About Nazi-Looted Art and the Law: The American Cases

“This book offers a clear, accessible account of the American litigation over the restitution of works of art taken from Jewish families during the Holocaust. For the past two decades, the courts of the United States have been an arena of conflict over this issue that has recently captured widespread public attention. In a series of cases, survivors and heirs have come forward to claim artworks in public and private collections around the world, asserting that they were seized by the Nazis or were sold under duress by owners desperate to escape occupied countries. Spanning two continents and three-quarters of a century, the cases confront the courts with complex problems of domestic and international law, clashes among the laws of different jurisdictions, factual uncertainties about the movements of art during and after the war, and the persistent question whether restitution claims have been extinguished by the passage of time.Through individual case studies, the book examines the legal questions these conflicts have raised and the answers the courts have given. From the internationally celebrated “Woman in Gold” lawsuit against Austria to lesser-known claims against Germany, Hungary, Spain, and museums and private collections in the United States, the book synthesizes the legal and evidentiary materials and judicial rulings in each case, creating a coherent narrative of proceedings that are often labyrinthine in complexity. Written by a leading authority on litigation and procedure, the book will be of interest to readers in various fields of the humanities and social sciences as well as law, and to anyone interested in the fate of artworks that have been called the “last prisoners” of the Second World War.” — Springer

About Bruce Hay

Professor Hay’s primary field is legal procedure, including civil litigation, conflicts of law, and dispute resolution. His latest book, Nazi-Looted Art and the Law (2017), examines the intricacies of the American courts’ adjudication of Holocaust-era restitution claims, which raise myriad problems of domestic, international and foreign law as well as difficult evidentiary questions. He is also interested in the economic analysis of law, including the economics of litigation, liability, and insurance. Before joining the Harvard faculty he clerked at the United States Supreme Court, and practiced law with Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, DC, specializing in appellate cases. He studied at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, l’Université d’Aix-en-Provence, and Harvard Law School.

HLS faculty and students: join us for Notes & Comment!

Student working in the Reading RoomOn Wednesday, April 11, from 3-5pm, the normally quiet* tables of the HLS Library Reading Room will become collaboration zones for student-faculty interaction on scholarly topics during Notes & Comment: An Event for Students and Faculty to Connect on Scholarship. Faculty will be available to meet with students seeking guidance on their research and writing for publication — including student Notes in HLS journals, writing competitions, and other extra-curricular publishing opportunities.

During the event, students will be matched with faculty individually or in small groups. “It’s sort of a collective office hours, where a referral from one faculty member to another can be as simple as walking two tables down in the Reading Room,” said Jonathan Zittrain, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources in his invitation to faculty.

We have already received commitments to attend from Professors Bavitz, Bayefsky, Block, Desan, Lazarus, Singer, Tobin, Yang, and Zittrain.

A networking reception with food and drink will also be available throughout the event and Library staff will be on hand to showcase resources for research and scholarly publishing available to faculty and students.

Participants should RSVP so that the event coordinators can work to plan appropriate student-faculty partnerships in advance.


*Note that students looking for quiet study space during the event will be directed to the Reference Room.

Book Talk: Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings, Monday, March 26, 2018, at noon, with lunch.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings (George H. Gadbois, Jr., edited and introduced by Vikram Raghavan & Vasujith Ram, Oxford Univ. Press, Feb. 22, 2018). The book talk discussion will include: Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law; Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University; Mitra Sharafi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin School of Law; and Vasujith Ram, LLM student, Harvard Law School. This talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library, the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at Harvard University, and the Harvard South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA).

Monday, March 26, 2018
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings

About Supreme Court of India: The Beginnings

“This work seeks to determine the roles played by the paramount judiciary in the Indian polity between 1937 and 1964. The discussion starts with an examination of the Federal Court, the establishment of which in 1937 brought into existence Indias first central judicial institution. After a consideration of events leading to the creation of the Federal Court, the nature of its jurisdiction and representative decisions are analysed. Other matters considered include the relationship of the Federal Court with the Privy Council, and the unsuccessful efforts made to empower the Federal Court with a jurisdiction to hear civil appeals. In addition, the major part of this work is devoted to the present Supreme Court of India, which replaced the Federal Court in 1950. After discussing the general features of the new judicial establishment, attention is focused upon the nature of its review powers and the manner in which the Court can exercise these powers. Against the background of debates in the Constituent Assembly that reflect the attitudes of the Constitution-makers towards judicial review, the important decisions which provoked clashes between the judges and politicians have been analysed.” — Oxford University Press


Mark Tushnet




Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School


Sugata Bose




Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs, Harvard University


Mitra Sharafi




Mitra Sharafi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin Law School


Vasujith Ram




Vasujith Ram, LLM student, Harvard Law School

Scanning Nuremberg: Wrapping up NMT9 and a preview of the IMT

Post by  Matt Seccombe, March 2, 2018

After I finished the analysis of the trial documents in the Einsatzgruppen case, NMT 9, in early January, I split my time between two tasks. The first was to scan the last 1500 pages of the trial transcript for any document-related information I had not previously found. My earlier work proved to be sufficient, as no new documents turned up. The transcript did offer some interesting dialogue, however, including an exchange between a judge and a defense attorney giving his final argument. The judge, who had a mimeo copy of the argument, interrupted to advise the attorney that if he used a certain sentence in the final paragraph, it would do him no good and the judge would have to comment on the sentence—which would not be pleasant for either party. The attorney stated that if there was anything wrong in the text it must be due to a translation error since he did not intend to say anything that would give offense. He omitted the specified sentence. Neither one, of course, stated what was in that unuttered sentence.

The second task was to look ahead at the IMT, the International Military Tribunal of 1945-46, the trial of the “major war criminals” (Goering et al.). The first question was “what do we have?” The answer was thirty-two boxes of trial documents, not counting two copies of the trial transcript and several boxes of Soviet documents in Russian. These broke down into 19 boxes of US and British trial documents, 6 boxes from the IMT commission on criminal organizations, and 7 boxes with a smaller set of trial documents (mostly duplicating the first set). I looked at each folder in each box to create a folder-level map of the collection. The trial documents sort out in three stages: 1. pre-trial material and the prosecution documents on the general charges (conspiracy, aggressive warfare, war crimes, crimes against humanity); 2. prosecution and defense documents concerning each defendant; 3. documents on the organizations.

We decided to begin work on the first stage, beginning with the pre-trial documents and other heterogeneous IMT-related documents that were stored (in no particular order) in two boxes, before moving on to the core trial documents (arguments, briefs, and evidence in document books). During February I analyzed 77 documents and 1471 pages of material in the two boxes.

Heterogeneous does not mean trivial; in fact, these boxes hold the most important IMT documents: the London Agreement and charter that established the IMT in August 1945; the indictment in several drafts, from the first in August to marked-up page proofs in October; and a copy of the Tribunal judgment, spelling out the findings, verdicts, and sentences. Among the lesser documents was an analysis of Goering’s bank accounts (he was not poor), Robert Ley’s last will to his family (before he hanged himself), and a report by the US “Monuments Men” unit on Hitler’s project to assemble Europe’s cultural treasures for a museum and library in Austria.

Much of this material was collected by Ralph Albrecht, one of the US prosecutors (and HLS graduate). One was a memo outlining prosecution strategy for cross-examining defendants and their witnesses, emphasizing the need to avoid prolonging the trial. The memo was signed simply “A.,” but the folder was signed with the full name with an identical capital, “Albrecht.” Among his reasons for the strategy were a need to keep the attention of the press, support in public opinion, the complications of the peace negotiations, and the need to protect “the solid reputation of the Justice [Robert Jackson] for statesmanship and advocacy.”

More about the Nuremberg Trials Project:

Matt Seccombe’s work on the NMT 9 of the Nuremberg Trials Project has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

National Endowment for the Humanities logo



The HLS 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 posted five trials so far (NMT 1 through NMT 4 and NMT 7) and have completed digitization of all the documents and transcripts. 

We are now engaged in the process of analyzing, describing and making machine readable the remaining trials’ materials in preparation for posting them to the Web. We hope to complete this work as soon as possible based upon available funding.  For more information about this project, please contact Jocelyn Kennedy.

Book Talk: Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America, Monday, March 19, 2018, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America (Harper Collins, Mar. 6, 2018), edited by Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University.  The book talk discussion will also include Jack L. Goldsmith, Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and contributor to Can It Happen Here?.

Copies of Can It Happen Here? will be available for sale courtesy of the Harvard Law School COOP and Professor Sunstein will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.

Poster Can It Happen Here?

Monday, March 19, 2018 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America

“With the election of Donald J. Trump, many people on both the left and right feared that America’s 240-year-old grand experiment in democracy was coming to an end, and that Sinclair Lewis’ satirical novel, It Can’t Happen Here, written during the dark days of the 1930s, could finally be coming true. Is the democratic freedom that the United States symbolizes really secure? Can authoritarianism happen in America?

Acclaimed legal scholar, Harvard Professor, and New York Times bestselling author Cass R. Sunstein queried a number of the nation’s leading thinkers. In this thought-provoking collection of essays, these distinguished thinkers and theorists explore the lessons of history, how democracies crumble, how propaganda works, and the role of the media, courts, elections, and “fake news” in the modern political landscape—and what the future of the United States may hold.” — Harper Collins

About Cass R. Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. He is the founder and director of the Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School. Mr. Sunstein has testified before congressional committees on many subjects, and he has been involved in constitution-making and law reform activities in a number of nations.

Mr. Sunstein is author of many articles and books, including (2001), Risk and Reason (2002), Why Societies Need Dissent (2003), The Second Bill of Rights (2004), Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle (2005), Worst-Case Scenarios (2001), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler, 2008), Simpler: The Future of Government (2013), Why Nudge? (2014), Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas (2014), Valuing Life: Humanizing the Regulatory State (2014), Constitutional Personae: Heroes, Soldiers, Minimalists, and Mutes (2015), Choosing Not to Choose: Understanding the Value of Choice (2015), Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter (2015), The World According to Star Wars (2016), #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media (2017), and Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide (2017). He is now working on group decisionmaking and various projects on the idea of liberty.

Contributor and Commentator

Jack Goldsmith





Jack L. Goldsmith, Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School


More About Can It Happen Here?: Authoritarianism in America

“A renowned legal scholar assembles a dream team of other legal authorities and cultural and political analysists to ponder the title, substance, and current relevance of It Can’t Happen Here…Cautionary pieces well-informed by history, legal theory, and patriotism, all bubbling in a cauldron of anxiety.” — Kirkus

Book Talk: The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution, Fri., March 9, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution by Judge Stephen F. Williams (Encounter Books, Nov. 7, 2017).  Stephen F. Williams is a Harvard Law School graduate and is Senior United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He will be joined in conversation with Joshua Rubenstein, Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University and Associate Director for Major Gifts at Harvard Law School, and author of The Last Days of Stalin (Yale Univ. Press, 2016) and also, with Alexis Peri, Assistant Professor of History at Boston University and author of The War Within: Diaries from the Siege of Leningrad (Harvard Univ. Press 2017).  This talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Russian Law Students Association.

The Reformer Poster

Friday, March 9, 2018 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution

“Besides absolutists of the right (the tsar and his adherents) and left (Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks), the Russian political landscape in 1917 featured moderates seeking liberal reform and a rapid evolution toward towards a constitutional monarchy. Vasily Maklakov, a lawyer, legislator and public intellectual, was among the most prominent of these, and the most articulate and sophisticated advocate of the rule of law, the linchpin of liberalism.

This book tells the story of his efforts and his analysis of the reasons for their ultimate failure. It is thus, in part, an example for movements seeking to liberalize authoritarian countries today—both as a warning and a guide.

Although never a cabinet member or the head of his political party—the Constitutional Democrats or “Kadets”—Maklakov was deeply involved in most of the political events of the period. He was defense counsel for individuals resisting the regime (or charged simply for being of the wrong ethnicity, such as Menahem Beilis, sometimes considered the Russian Dreyfus). He was continuously a member of the Kadets’ central committee and their most compelling orator. As a somewhat maverick (and moderate) Kadet, he stood not only between the country’s absolute extremes (the reactionary monarchists and the revolutionaries), but also between the two more or less liberal centrist parties, the Kadets on the center left, and the Octobrists on the center right. As a member of the Second, Third and Fourth Dumas (1907-1917), he advocated a wide range of reforms, especially in the realms of religious freedom, national minorities, judicial independence, citizens’ judicial remedies, and peasant rights.” — Encounter Books

About Judge Stephen F. Williams

Stephen F, Williams graduated from Harvard Law School in 1961 and practiced in the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York; he then served as a professor of law at the University of Colorado and as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, UCLA and Southern Methodist University. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit by President Reagan in 1986. His first book on Russian history, Liberal Reform in an Illiberal Regime: The Creation of Private Property Rights in Russia, 1906-15, addressed an effort to enhance peasant property rights, launched in a brief surge of reformist activity.


Joshua Rubenstein



Joshua Rubenstein, Associate, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University and Associate Director for Major Gifts at Harvard Law School


Alexis Peri




Alexis Peri, Assistant Professor of History at Boston University


More About The Reformer: How One Liberal Fought to Preempt the Russian Revolution

“The Reformer illuminates the life and times of Vasily Maklakov, one of the most remarkable lives during the most turbulent times in Russia’s history. Maklakov’s attempts to avoid revolution by bringing about revolutionary reform failed, but his course and his arguments should not be forgotten. . . . The Reformer is an essential book for anyone interested in Russian history, but its story is still all too relevant today, when freedom and the rule of law are under assault around the globe.”  — Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and author of Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped

“Through extensive research, crystal-clear writing, and a keen and comprehensive understanding of his subject matter, Stephen F. Williams makes a truly important contribution to the study of the last years of tsarism and the efforts of one individual to try to make a difference. . . . Williams demonstrates a real mastery of the literature and original source material . . . and brings it altogether in a most readable and informative way.” — David J. Kramer, Senior Fellow, Florida International University and former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

“Williams’s study is impressive, informative, gripping. In the considerable overlap between the skills of a good lawyer and a good historian, Williams shines.” — Lars Lih, author of Lenin (2011) and Lenin Rediscovered (2008)

“A liberal rule of law is under attack worldwide, from Manila to Moscow. Judge Williams has written a lucid, brilliant account of a modern turning point―the failure of Russia to take the liberal direction it could have taken in 1917. . . . Williams has entire command of the historical sources for his tale, told in graceful prose. . . . We are not that far gone in losing the liberal vision of law. But to not remember the history is to risk repeating it.” — Deirdre McCloskey, Distinguished Professor of Economics, History and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago

“This is an unusual and in so many ways a brilliant book. It aims to explain the failure of the rule of law in the decades before the Bolshevik revolution of October 1917, through the biography of a key liberal figure of that era, Vasily Maklakov. There is no other work like this one, for there is no other written by a leading jurist who also happens to publish seriously as a historian of Russia.” — Daniel T. Orlovsky, Professor and George Bouhe Research Fellow in Russian Studies, Southern Methodist University

Book Talk: American Capitalism: New Histories, Wednesday, March 7th, at noon.

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion for American Capitalism: New Histories (Columbia Univ. Press, Feb. 13, 2018), edited by Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University Department of History, and by Christine A. Desan, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law.  Professor Beckert and Professor Desan will be joined by commentators: Bethany Moreton, Professor of History, Dartmouth College; Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University; and Seth E. Rockman, Associate Professor of History, Brown University.  This talk is co-sponsored by the Tax & Financial Regulation Students Association and the Harvard Russian Law Students Association.

American Capitalism Poster

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School WCC 2036 Milstein East B (directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About American Capitalism: New Histories

“The United States has long epitomized capitalism. From its enterprising shopkeepers, wildcat banks, violent slave plantations, huge industrial working class, and raucous commodities trade to its world-spanning multinationals, its massive factories, and the centripetal power of New York in the world of finance, America has come to symbolize capitalism for two centuries and more. But an understanding of the history of American capitalism is as elusive as it is urgent. What does it mean to make capitalism a subject of historical inquiry? What is its potential across multiple disciplines, alongside different methodologies, and in a range of geographic and chronological settings? And how does a focus on capitalism change our understanding of American history?

American Capitalism presents a sampling of cutting-edge research from prominent scholars. These broad-minded and rigorous essays venture new angles on finance, debt, and credit; women’s rights; slavery and political economy; the racialization of capitalism; labor beyond industrial wage workers; and the production of knowledge, including the idea of the economy, among other topics. Together, the essays suggest emerging themes in the field: a fascination with capitalism as it is made by political authority, how it is claimed and contested by participants, how it spreads across the globe, and how it can be reconceptualized without being universalized. A major statement for a wide-open field, this book demonstrates the breadth and scope of the work that the history of capitalism can provoke.” — Columbia University Press

Sven Beckert is Laird Bell Professor of History at Harvard University and cofounder of the Program on the Study of Capitalism. He is the author of Empire of Cotton: A Global History (2014).

Christine Desan is Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University and cofounder of the Program on the Study of Capitalism. She is the author of Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism (2014).


Bethany Moreton




Bethany Moreton, Professor of History, Dartmouth College



Michael Ralph




Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University






Seth E. Rockman, Associate Professor of History, Brown University


More About American Capitalism: New Histories

“Sven Beckert and Christine Desan are leaders in the burgeoning history of capitalism field, and they have put together a volume of outstanding scholars whose essays, in their chronological reach and subject matter, show this new literature at its best. A very fine and promising collection.” — Steven Hahn, New York University

“This stunning volume not only captures the most vibrant, challenging work in the history of capitalism, but also distills the central themes and defining contributions of the field. The essays speak to all historians, not just those working in the history of capitalism. A must read.” — Laura F. Edwards, Duke University

“American Capitalism represents the coming of age of a field of historical research. Rarely, in any field, has one volume featured the work of so many talented and accomplished historians. Each chapter breaks fresh ground and proposes new lines of inquiry. The editors have assembled a landmark and agenda-setting book that no student of economic life in the United States can afford to ignore.” — Jonathan Levy, University of Chicago

“From the creditor constitution to the market for slave clothing to early American mercantilist thinking, this deftly curated book samples some of the best work that the history of capitalism literature has to offer. Readers interested in new and provocative explorations of the politics, law, and culture enmeshed in American economic institutions need look no further.” — Suresh Naidu, Columbia University

“Few historical subfields are more important and timely than the critical history of capitalism. In this volume, Sven Beckert and Christine Desan have assembled cutting-edge work on topics as diverse as slavery, credit, insurance and risk, financial crises, race, gender, agriculture, and law and regulation. These essays combine chronological breadth, analytical depth, and geographic scope, linking the micro and macro, the local and the global. Essential reading.” — Thomas J. Sugrue, New York University

852 Rare: How to Read a Manor Court Roll

This is the second in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor Goerss, Pforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us last summer to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts. Future topics include what you’ll find, sometimes unexpectedly, in them.

Having resolved to attempt to decipher a medieval court roll, where do you begin? Well, at the top.

English Manor Rolls, 1283-1765. Folder 8. Moulton (Multone), Norfolk. Harvard Law School Library. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

The first line tells you where and when the court occurred, what type of court it is, and sometimes the name of the Lord. For instance, the top line of this roll in HSC’s collection reads: Multone Curia ibidem tenta die Sabbati proximam post festum de Corpore XPI Anno regni Regis Edwardi tercii a conquestum XXIX, which is: Moulton, court held on the Saturday after the feast of Corpus Christi, in the 29th year of the reign of Edward III. So this session occurred early in June of 1355. Calculating a date that makes sense to us requires having some reference resources on hand that tell us the years of Edward III’s reign and what the Christian feast dates were for that year. Here’s an online resource for that.

Just below the heading appears the names of those tenants who have “essoined” themselves. This means they have opted out of coming to court by paying a fee and designating proxies in their stead.

Then the proceedings of the session are listed. Here is an example of what an entry looks like:

English Manor Rolls, 1283-1765. Folder 8. Moulton (Multone), Norfolk. Harvard Law School Library. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Item presentat quod Johannes Bateman fecit dampnum in frumento domini cum vi bobus [The jury presents that John Bateman did damage to the Lord’s grain with six oxen]…”

You might have noticed that the court scribes used a radically abbreviated mode of writing: frumento = frō and domini = dm̄. You will also notice that many entries begin with words such as, “The jury presents…” This “jury,” anywhere from ten to twenty-four men selected from the attendees of the court, both presented and decided the cases. Each fine (marked with an M for misericordia) is recorded in the left margin. In this case, the fine amounts to 2 s (pence) and 3 d (shillings).

If this seems a bit challenging, don’t panic! There are plenty of resources with which to tackle court rolls. Here’s one of our favorites:

Stuart, Denis. Manorial Records: An Introduction to Their Transcription and Translation. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore, 1992.

Digital Wall Street Journal access is here!

Front page of the first issue of the Wall Street Journal, Wikimedia commons

We’re happy to announce that HLSL has, in collaboration with the Harvard Library, secured a subscription to the digital Wall Street Journal. Digital membership is available to all current Harvard faculty, students and staff, and includes unlimited access via or the WSJ app. Use this link to sign up for an account.

If you need technical assistance with the sign-up process, please contact the WSJ directly at 1-800-568-7625 as they will be better able to assist you with the sign up process.

For information about Harvard access to,, Mass Lawyers’ Weekly, historical WSJ, other popular newspapers, and getting started with newspaper research at Harvard, visit our guide to newspapers for the HLS community.

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