Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

852 RARE: Open for Research: The Papers of Stanley S. Surrey

…I doubt that any person alive today has had as close and as varied a relationship with the Internal Revenue Code as I have had. – Surrey, Unpublished Memoir

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce the Stanley S. Surrey Papers are now open to researchers. The material dates from 1913 to 1981, and documents Surrey’s exceptional contributions to tax law both as a public servant and as a professor of law. Considered “a dean of the academic tax bar,”[1] Surrey contributed to the field of tax law in many ways. He served as the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Tax Policy during the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, was an active member of many professional organizations including the American Law Institute, and was a Professor of Law at Harvard for thirty years.

Walter Surrey writing to his son, Stanley, on his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Surrey Papers, box 319, folder 5. Historical & Special Collections, Harvard Law School Library.

Early in his career, Surrey worked as an attorney for the National Recovery Administration (1933-35) and the National Labor Relations Board (1935-37). He then moved on to the U.S. Treasury Department where he worked on the Wartime Revenue Act. After a brief time in the U.S. Naval Reserve (1944-46), Surrey began to teach law at Berkley. It was during his time at Berkley that Surrey became the Chief Reported for the Income Tax Project conducted by the American Law Institute, a project that would last more than a decade. The Income Tax Project resulted in a number of publications addressing issues in the American tax code and have had a lasting influence on tax legislation.

There is a large number of correspondence, drafts, and handwritten notes documenting the American Law Institute Income Tax Project, the Income, Estate and Gift Tax Project and the second Income Tax Project, which Surrey advised on in the 1970s, in the collection. This material demonstrates how tax policy is developed and eventually becomes part of the tax code.

Surrey became a member of Harvard’s Faculty in 1950. As a faculty member he founded Harvard’s Program for International Taxation and served as director of the program from 1953 until 1961 when he was appointed as Assistant Secretary. He later came back to Harvard in 1969. A major portion of the Stanley Surrey Papers is devoted to his time as Assistant Secretary to the Treasury. Surrey kept correspondence, type-written notes, reports and memoranda from his time in the Treasury. He also kept meticulous notes of his daily routine at the Treasury in a professional journal. As Assistant Secretary he also coined the term Tax Expenditure, and was influential in defining the term later in a book co-authored with William C. Warren.

Draft page from “Pathways” on the definition of tax expenditures. Surrey Papers, box 416, folder 8. Historical & Special Collections, Harvard Law School Library.

All of Surrey’s various professional associations from his earliest career as an attorney to his time as the President of the National Tax Association (1979-80), and areas of interest are represented in Surrey’s personal reference files preserved in this collection. Surrey’s extensive personal reference files on issues of national and international taxation contain essays, documents, memoranda, newspaper clippings, notes, printed material, reports, testimony, and material sent to him from colleagues for Surrey’s reference in his function as professor, author, and consultant. This file is evidence of Surrey’s lifelong dedication to improving tax policy in every avenue of his career.

The Stanley S. Surrey Papers open to all researchers. Anyone interested in using the collection should contact Historical & Special Collections to schedule an appointment.

Posted on behalf of Rachel Parker by Edwin Moloy.

 

[1] “Stanley S. Surrey, 74; Taxation Law Expert”. New York Times. August 28, 1984.

Book Talk: Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Wed., Oct. 4, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense  (Beacon Press, 2017) by Caroline Light, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University. Copies of Stand Your Ground will be available for sale and Professor Light will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2036 Milstein East A (Map & Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

Stand Your Ground Poster

About Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense

“After a young, white gunman killed twenty-six people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012, conservative legislators lamented that the tragedy could have been avoided if the schoolteachers had been armed and the classrooms equipped with guns. Similar claims were repeated in the aftermath of other recent shootings—after nine were killed in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and in the aftermath of the massacre in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Despite inevitable questions about gun control, there is a sharp increase in firearm sales in the wake of every mass shooting.

Yet, this kind of DIY-security activism predates the contemporary gun rights movement—and even the stand-your-ground self-defense laws adopted in thirty-three states, or the thirteen million civilians currently licensed to carry concealed firearms. As scholar Caroline Light proves, support for “good guys with guns” relies on the entrenched belief that certain “bad guys with guns” threaten us all.

Stand Your Ground explores the development of the American right to self-defense and reveals how the original “duty to retreat” from threat was transformed into a selective right to kill. In her rigorous genealogy, Light traces white America’s attachment to racialized, lethal self-defense by unearthing its complex legal and social histories—from the original “castle laws” of the 1600s, which gave white men the right to protect their homes, to the brutal lynching of “criminal” Black bodies during the Jim Crow era and the radicalization of the NRA as it transitioned from a sporting organization to one of our country’s most powerful lobbying forces.

In this convincing treatise on the United States’ unprecedented ascension as the world’s foremost stand-your-ground nation, Light exposes a history hidden in plain sight, showing how violent self-defense has been legalized for the most privileged and used as a weapon against the most vulnerable.” — Beacon Press

Panelists

Caroline Light

 

 

Caroline Light, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Lecturer on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University

 

Patricia J. Williams

 

Patricia J. Williams, Radcliffe Institute Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow and James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia Law School

 

 

Jeannie Suk Gersen

 

 

Jeannie Suk Gersen, John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

 

Ronald Sullivan, Jr.

 

 

Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Clinical Professor of Law and Director, Criminal Justice Institute, Harvard Law School

 

More About Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense

“The author is a keen legal analyst, deftly examining obscure cases that underlie this historical narrative…A weighty consideration of the cultural politics behind disturbing flash points like the death of Trayvon Martin.”
—- Kirkus Reviews

“Light’s readable account deserves strong notice by those seeking understanding of the roots of today’s polarizing debate over gun laws.”
—- Booklist

“Light makes a compelling case that appeals to ‘self-defense’ throughout American history have never been an equal-opportunity recourse…Light does not shy away from historical facts that popular memory and contemporary debates often erase. She unsparingly describes how many white suffragists supported extrajudicial violence to protect white chastity, and likewise calls attention to the under-acknowledged role of armed self-defense by black Americans during the sixties and seventies.”
—- The New Inquiry

“A timely and far-reaching new book…Light deftly analyzes how this lop-sided treatment has survived, in our legal system and also in the distortions that help define the historical memory of white America…It’s far from obvious that repealing Stand Your Ground laws would break that loop. As Light shows, the right to claim the protective mantle of self-defense has never been equally distributed in America. Stand Your Ground laws may be stark symbols of that reality, but they didn’t create it. Stand Your Ground didn’t kill Martin or keep Zimmerman out of jail. And it didn’t protect Peterson. Truly facing the problems of violence in America will mean following Light’s lead and digging deeper.”
—- Peter C. Baker, Pacific Standard

“A powerful new book…studded with striking statistics and sobering facts.”
—- Nina MacLaughlin, The Boston Globe

“While some may believe that the prevalence of ‘stand-your-ground’ narratives is a new phenomenon, Caroline Light’s Stand Your Ground is timely and sharp, and a potent antidote to historical amnesia. Light reminds us that these defenses are as old as the republic; they have always protected those with privilege and jeopardized those at the margins.”
—- Mark Anthony Neal, author of New Black Man

“In this brilliant and timely history of ‘the well-armed citizen,’ Caroline Light reveals the logic—and lunacy—of the perceived reasonableness of lethal force in America and the collective myth of the ideal, gun-toting savior against the threat of the ‘other.’”
—- Patricia Williams, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School

“Caroline Light traces the history of self-defense in America from the early republic to the present and reveals how gun-use policies have consistently compromised the contours of our democracy. Paying careful attention to the roles of race and gender in structuring gun control politics, Light ultimately provides us with a profound reflection on belonging and exclusion in American society. Essential reading.”
—- Elizabeth Hinton, award-winning author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America

“Provocative and original.”
—- Mike “The Gun Guy” Weisser, author of the Guns in America series

Join us to celebrate Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week is coming and we are excited! As librarians, the freedom to read is in our DNA. Every year scores of books have their places in libraries and schools challenged by would-be censors. We can’t stand that, but we can stand up for the freedom to read and you can join us!

Visit the HLS Library lobby during the week of September 25 for a display about local censors. “Banned in Boston” isn’t just a random expression; the New England Watch & Ward Society records in our own collection (digitized in 2010) contain lists of  books deemed “impure literature” and banned in Boston (and beyond) during the 20th century.

Read-Out with us, Tuesday, September 26 at 12:15, HLS Library steps 
Bring your lunch and join us on the steps of the library as members of the HLS community read excerpts from our favorite banned books. We’ll be reading from classic literature, children’s picture books, and everything in between! If you’re HLS faculty, student, or staff and would like to be a reader, please contact Meg Kribble and we’ll add you to the line-up!

All week on Instagram!
Follow our Instagram for photos of HLS faculty, staff, and students with our favorite banned books. Share your own banned book selfies with #hlslbannedbooks! Email Jane Kelly if you’d like to be featured.

Not sure if your favorite has been banned or challenged? Check out the American Library Association’s Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books for 2015 and ALA’s Banned & Challenged Classics.

Book Talk: The Futility of Law and Development: China and the Dangers of Exporting American Law, Tue., Oct. 3, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of The Futility of Law and Development: China and the Dangers of Exporting American Law (Oxford Univ. Press, 2015) by Jedidiah J. Kroncke, Professor, FGV Sao Paulo School of Law.  Copies of The Futility of Law and Development will be available for sale and Professor Kroncke will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.  This talk is co-sponsored with East Asian Legal Studies program at Harvard Law School and with the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession.

Futility of Law and Development poster

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2019 Milstein West B (Map & Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

About The Futility of Law and Development: China and the Dangers of Exporting American Law

“For all the attention paid to the Founder Fathers in contemporary American debates, it has almost been wholly forgotten how deeply they embraced an ambitious and intellectually profound valuation of foreign legal experience. Jedidiah Kroncke uses the Founders’ serious engagement with, and often admiration for, Chinese law in the Revolutionary era to begin his history of how America lost this Founding commitment to legal cosmopolitanism and developed a contemporary legal culture both parochial in its resistance to engaging foreign legal experience and universalist in its messianic desire to export American law abroad. Kroncke reveals how the under-appreciated, but central role of Sino-American relations in this decline over two centuries, significantly reshaped in the early 20th century as American lawyer-missionaries helped inspire the first modern projects of American humanitarian internationalism through legal development. Often forgotten today after the rise of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, the Sino-American relationship in the early 20th century was a key crucible for articulating this vision as Americans first imagined waves of Americanization abroad in the wake of China’s 1911 Republican revolution.

Drawing in historical threads from religious, legal and foreign policy work, the book demonstrates how American comparative law ultimately became a marginalized practice in this process. The marginalization belies its central place in earlier eras of American political and legal reform. In doing so, the book reveals how the cosmopolitan dynamism so prevalent at the Founding is a lost virtue that today comprises a serious challenge to American legal culture and its capacity for legal innovation in the face of an increasingly competitive and multi-polar 21st century. Once again, America’s relationship with China presents a critical opportunity to recapture this lost virtue and stimulate the searching cosmopolitanism that helped forge the original foundations of American democracy.” — Oxford University Press

Panelists

Jedidiah J. Kroncke

 

 

Jedidiah J. Kroncke, Professor, FGV Sao Paulo School of Law (Brazil)

 

David Armitage

 

 

David Armitage, Harvard University Lloyd C. Blankfein Professor of History

 

Xiaoqian Hu

 

 

Xiaoqian Hu, Harvard Law School

 

William P. Alford

 

 

William P. Alford, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law, Director, East Asian Legal Studies Program, and Chair, Harvard Law School Project on Disability

More About The Futility of Law and Development: China and the Dangers of Exporting American Law

“Kroncke recovers a wide-ranging legal cosmopolitanism as the least appreciated, if not outright ignored, of our Founders’ shared commitments. Using transnational sources wholly unappreciated to date, he artfully reveals through the Sino-American relationship how this virtue was lost through interwoven transformations in American legal, religious, and diplomatic history. A work whose lessons need by heeded by all those concerned with preserving American law’s historical vibrancy in the contemporary era, or with how we conceive of America’s role in the international world.” — William E. Nelson, Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

“Beautifully written, The Futility of Law and Development is bracing, erudite, and genuinely original. Even those familiar with development or Sino-American relations will be astonished at how much they learn. Jedidiah Kroncke is not only one of the most important and insightful China scholars of his generation, but also of comparative law and legal globalization. A tour-de-force of international legal history with urgent implications for modern American legal culture.” — Amy Chua, John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law, Yale Law School

“Americans keep hoping that projects to export our law will be the key to spurring economic growth and liberal rights in developing countries. The projects keep failing, yet the hope always revives. Kroncke’s brilliant exploration of two centuries of American lawyers’ engagement with China helps to explain why: the missionary-lawyers are the direct secularized heirs of lawyer-missionaries, just as confident in the universal validity of their models and impervious to the true lessons of their experiences. He recovers a time when a more cosmopolitan America was willing to learn from other societies, even while aspiring to be an exemplar of republican democracy.” — Robert Gordon, Professor of Law, Stanford University and Chancellor Kent Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale University

“What an impressive read! Kroncke’s book is comparative law at the best of its potential. History, thick explanation, critique, and new possibilities. The reader will realize how the missionary precursors of the Wilsonian era reshaped the very nature of American comparative law and, ever since, American law’s problematic relationship with the international world. Understanding our disciplinary shortcomings is the best medicine for overcoming them.” — Ugo Mattei, Alfred and Hanna Fromm Professor of International and Comparative law, UC Hastings

“[Futility] is a sophisticated critical dissection of the drawbacks of American legal export…a much a loss for the U.S. as for the world, because it has foreclosed the willingness of politicians and lawyers to see such complexity as an invitation for U.S. internal domestic experimentation and renewal. The book offers a beautiful reconstruction of the American legal imagination and approach to China…a provocative retelling of the history of American legal export, one that no doubt will generate fruitful debate and will have to be reckoned with by legal historians, legal comparativists, and scholars of U.S. foreign policy.” — Aziz Rana, JOTWELL

“Although The Futility of Law and Development is primarily a historical work, its contemporary significance is clear. It is a crucial time to reflect on the rocky record of America’s engagement with China’s legal system. U.S.-China relations stand at a critical juncture with simultaneous substantial interdependence and palpable tension. Members of the U.S. government, nongovernmental organizations, and academia whose work involves China’s legal system would be wise to take pause and put The Futility of Law and Development on their bedside tables.” —  Mary K. Lewis, Seton Hall University, China Review International

 

 

HLS students: You’re invited to Love Your Library Fest on September 22

HLS Students: we invite you to join us for the 13th annual Love Your Library Fest on Friday, September 22 from 2 to 5pm to learn more about your new library!

At Library Fest you will:

  • Learn about library services that students love
  • Get the scoop on how our Library Innovation Lab is making the law more accessible
  • Tell us how to improve our website
  • See unique items from our Historical & Special Collections
  • Meet our legal information vendors and staff from other Harvard libraries

Library Fest Heart by Alethea Jones

Art by Alethea Jones

Visit three or more stations to get a free movie ticket (HLS students only; one ticket per student) and for each station you visit, get an entry into our raffle for a Taste of New England gift basket (two each for JD and LLM/SJD students)–with a bonus raffle entry if you visit all stations!

In addition to the grand prizes, there will be candy, treats, and some fun HLSL swag!

Mark your calendars and we’ll see you there!

Book Talk: The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization, Thur. Sept. 28, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization: The Rise of the Corporate Legal Sector and its Impact on Lawyers and Society (Cambridge Univ. Press, May, 2017) edited by David B. Wilkins, Vikramaditya S. Khanna, and David M. Trubek. Copies of The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization will be available for sale and Professors Wilkins and Khanna will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.  This talk is co-sponsored with the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession and the Harvard University South Asia Institute.

Thursday, September 28, 2017 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2036 Milstein East A/B (Campus Map & Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

About The Indian Legal Profession in the Age of Globalization

“This book provides the first comprehensive analysis of the impact of globalization on the Indian legal profession. Employing a range of original data from twenty empirical studies, the book details the emergence of a new corporate legal sector in India including large and sophisticated law firms and in-house legal departments, as well as legal process outsourcing companies. As the book’s authors document, this new corporate legal sector is reshaping other parts of the Indian legal profession, including legal education, the development of pro bono and corporate social responsibility, the regulation of legal services, and gender, communal, and professional hierarchies with the bar. Taken as a whole, the book will be of interest to academics, lawyers, and policymakers interested in the critical role that a rapidly globalizing legal profession is playing in the legal, political, and economic development of important emerging economies like India, and how these countries are integrating into the institutions of global governance and the overall global market for legal services.” — Cambridge University Press

Panelists

David Wilkins

 

David B. Wilkins
Lester Kissel Professor of Law, Faculty Director of the Center on the Legal Profession, Vice Dean for Global Initiatives on the Legal Profession, Harvard Law School. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the Harvard University Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics.

 

Vikramaditya Khanna

 

Vikramaditya S. Khanna
William W. Cook Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School, Faculty Director of the Directors’ College for Global Business and Law, and co-director of the Joint Center for Global Corporate and Financial Law and Policy, at the University of Michigan Law School

 

Commentator

Tarun Khanna

 

 

Tarun Khanna
Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School; Director, South Asia Institute, Harvard University

Book Talk: Law, Religion, and Health in the United States, Wed. Sept. 27, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of Law, Religion, and Health in the United States (Cambridge Univ. Press, June 30, 2017) edited by Holly Fernandez Lynch, I. Glenn Cohen, and Elizabeth Sepper.  Copies of Law, Religion, and Health in the United States will be available for sale and Professors Cohen and Sepper will be available for signing books at the end of the talk.  This talk is co-sponsored with The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

Poster for Law, Religion, and Health book talk

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at noon, with lunch

Harvard Law School Room WCC 2019 Milstein West A (Map & Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

About Law, Religion, and Health in the United States

“While the law can create conflict between religion and health, it can also facilitate religious accommodation and protection of conscience. Finding this balance is critical to addressing the most pressing questions at the intersection of law, religion, and health in the United States: should physicians be required to disclose their religious beliefs to patients? How should we think about institutional conscience in the health care setting? How should health care providers deal with families with religious objections to withdrawing treatment? In this timely book, experts from a variety of perspectives and disciplines offer insight on these and other pressing questions, describing what the public discourse gets right and wrong, how policymakers might respond, and what potential conflicts may arise in the future. It should be read by academics, policymakers, and anyone else – patient or physician, secular or devout – interested in how US law interacts with health care and religion.” — Cambridge University Press

Panelists

Glenn Cohen

 

 

 

I. Glenn Cohen (editor)
Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics, Harvard Law School

 

Diane L. Moore

 

 

 

Diane L. Moore
Director of the Religious Literacy Project, Lecturer on Religion, Conflict, and Peace, and Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School

 

Elizabeth Sepper

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Sepper (co-editor)
Professor of Law, Washington University School of Law)

 

Moderator

Intisar A. Rabb

 

 

 

Intisar A. Rabb
Professor of Law and History; Director of the Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School; Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Harvard University Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

 

More About Law, Religion, and Health in the United States

‘Health care – in particular, care related to sexuality and procreation – has become the epicenter of the struggle to define religious liberty in America. From insurance mandates to professional autonomy, from refusing reproductive care to ‘treating’ homosexuality, and from defining life to defining death, Law, Religion, and Health in the United States is essential reading.’ — R. Alta Charo, Sheldon B. Lubar Distinguished Research Chair and Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin, Madison

‘This timely volume addresses a wide array of deep religious, ethical, legal, and technological quandaries that swirl around the increasingly complex world of health care in the United States. Bringing together top scholars from divergent disciplines and perspectives, this book will be essential reading for those who wrestle with power over life and death in a divided country where there are no one-size-fits-all answers.’ — Sarah Barringer Gordon, Arlin M. Adams Professor of Constitutional Law and Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania

852 Rare: Recently opened Modern Manuscript collections

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce several new Modern Manuscript collections now open for research.  This material dates from the late nineteenth century to the present day and spans the legal history of the United States and other countries.  The collections include both professional and personal papers that document the work of Harvard Law School faculty and graduates. Together these collections present a subset of the over 200 Modern Manuscript collections held by Historical & Special Collections.

The Lloyd L. Weinreb Papers cover the entirety of Weinreb’s professional career as professor, lawyer, and author. The collection spans the 1960s to 2010s, and contains correspondence, teaching materials, reports, publications, and photographs. The majority of the collection is professional in nature, though there is a small quantity of personal materials.

The Gary J. Greenberg Papers span the years 1967-1973. From 1967-1969, he worked as a Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. The material dated after this time reflects Greenberg’s ongoing interest and involvement in civil right issues; specifically, busing and school segregation. The collection contains correspondence, case files, clippings, publications, memos, and notes. The material is primarily professional in nature. Gary Greenberg graduated from HLS in 1966.

The Andrzej Henryk Wojcik Collection of Cuban criminal and civil court documents cover two separate periods of time and two different aspects of the Spanish colonial magistrate system in Cuba.. There are 88 criminal cases from 1890, which were decided by a panel of three colonial magistrates. Additionally, there are 119 civil court cases from 1881, which were decided by a panel of either three or five colonial magistrates.

The David Charny Papers span the years 1971-2000 with the bulk of the materials falling between the years of 1985 and 2000. The collection contains teaching material, research notes, paper drafts by Charny and others, correspondence, and other professional material.

Jeffrey Toobin research collection, 1984-2012 consists of material for his book, American Heiress: the wild saga of the kidnapping, crimes and trial of Patty Hearst. It is a comprehensive collection of material about Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army. Jeff Toobin graduated from HLS in 1986.

And an original letter written by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. to Lady Clare Castletown that will complement the 49 letters currently held by Historical & Special collections. (The letter will be open to researchers after conservation work has been completed.)

These collections are open to all researchers. Anyone interested in using the collection should contact Historical & Special Collections to schedule an appointment.

 

 

 

Library Closed July 3-4

The Library will be closed for Independence Day on Monday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 4, resuming our regular service on Wednesday, July 5 at 8am.

 For FAQ and research guides in our absence, please visit Ask a Librarian.

The flag carried by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. during the Civil War. The flag now hangs on the fifth floor of the library, across from Areeda 524.

Evidence in Ink

One of the pleasures of cataloging, especially of older books and manuscripts, is coming across unexpected traces of earlier times and lives. Scraps of an early manuscript liturgy or an almanac used in a binding; a series of former owners’ signatures vying for attention on a title page; enigmatic annotations in the margins; or even an eighteenth century butcher’s invoice used as a bookmark. All these are examples of evidence of the unique history contained in any single book or manuscript.

But a copy of at least one early canon law book in the collection—an exhaustive work on the Decretales of Pope Gregory IX printed in 1487-1488—bears evidence of a moment before it was even printed.  It also documents, perhaps, the momentary inattention of a worker in the busy Basel print shop of Johannes Amerbach.  Appearing at the bottom right corner of a page in part 1 is the unmistakable smudge of a fifteenth century ink ball.

Detail from part 1, leaf 2b3r of Niccolò,de’ Tudeschi’s Lectura super V libris Decretalium (Basel, Johannes Amerbach, 1488), copy 1 (Ad T256l 488 H12315), Harvard Law School Library.

In the era of hand-operated printing presses leather ink balls, stuffed with wool and attached to a handle, were used to evenly ink the plates prior to printing. It was hard, repetitive work.

By Jost Amman – “Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, hoher und nidriger, geistlicher und weltlicher, aller Künsten, Handwercken und Händeln …”, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=207246

Of course, having an ink ball come in contact with paper was not standard procedure. Surely it must have been noticed at some point in the printing process. Perhaps the paper was too costly to discard or the pressure to move the job along was too strong. But whatever the reason, we now have a visible reminder of hand press era technology and a moment of distraction almost 530 years ago.

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