Announcements •

Faculty Book Talk: Annette Gordon-Reed’s “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs,” Mon. April 11, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and panel discussion in celebration of Professor Annette Gordon-Reed’s recently published book with co-author Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (W.W. Norton & Co.).

Monday, April 11, 2016 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2019 Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

fbt-agr blog

Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School, and a Professor of History at Harvard University. She will be the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at Queen’s College, Oxford University during the 2014-2015 academic year. She received the 2008 National Book Award and the 2009 Pulitzer Prize in History for The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (2008). She is also the author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy (1997), Vernon Can Read!: A Memoir, with Vernon Jordan, Jr (2001), Race on Trial: Law and Justice in American History, editor (2002), and Andrew Johnson (2010).

Her honors include the National Humanities Medal, a Guggenheim Fellowship in the humanities, a fellowship from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the National Organization for Women in New York City’s Woman of Power and Influence Award. Gordon-Reed was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011 and is a member of the Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.



“A groundbreaking work of history that explicates Thomas Jefferson’s vision of himself, the American Revolution, Christianity, slavery, and race.

Thomas Jefferson is often portrayed as a hopelessly enigmatic figure—a riddle—a man so riven with contradictions that he is almost impossible to know. Lauded as the most articulate voice of American freedom and equality, even as he held people—including his own family—in bondage, Jefferson is variably described as a hypocrite, an atheist, or a simple-minded proponent of limited government who expected all Americans to be farmers forever.

Now, Annette Gordon-Reed teams up with America’s leading Jefferson scholar, Peter S. Onuf, to present an absorbing and revealing character study that dispels the many clichés that have accrued over the years about our third president. Challenging the widely prevalent belief that Jefferson remains so opaque as to be unknowable, the authors—through their careful analysis, painstaking research, and vivid prose—create a portrait of Jefferson, as he might have painted himself, one “comprised of equal parts sun and shadow” (Jane Kamensky).

Tracing Jefferson’s philosophical development from youth to old age, the authors explore what they call the “empire” of Jefferson’s imagination—an expansive state of mind born of his origins in a slave society, his intellectual influences, and the vaulting ambition that propelled him into public life as a modern avatar of the Enlightenment who, at the same time, likened himself to a figure of old—”the most blessed of the patriarchs.” Indeed, Jefferson saw himself as a “patriarch,” not just to his country and mountain-like home at Monticello but also to his family, the white half that he loved so publicly, as well as to the black side that he claimed to love, a contradiction of extraordinary historical magnitude.

Divided into three sections, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” reveals a striking personal dimension to his life. Part I, “Patriarch,” explores Jeffersons’s origins in Virgina; Part II, ” ‘Traveller,’ ” covers his five-year sojourn to Paris; and Part III, “Enthusiast,” delves insightfully into the Virginian’s views on Christianity, slavery, and race. We see not just his ideas and vision of America but come to know him in an almost familial way, such as through the importance of music in his life.

“Most Blessed of the Patriarchs” fundamentally challenges much of what we’ve come to accept about Jefferson, neither hypocrite nor saint, atheist nor fundamentalist. Gordon-Reed and Onuf, through a close reading of Jefferson’s own words, reintroduce us all to our most influential founding father: a man more gifted than most, but complicated in just the ways we all are.” — W.W. Norton & Co., Inc.


Martha Minow




Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law, Harvard Law School


Noah Feldman





Noah Feldman, Bemis Professor of International Law, Harvard Law School


Joyce Chaplin




Joyce E. Chaplin, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History and Chair, American Studies, Harvard University



More about “Most Blessed of Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of Imagination:

“They neither indict nor absolve Jefferson; instead, they aim to make sense of his contradictions for modern sensibilities…A fascinating addition to the Jefferson canon.” — Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed)

“Gordon-Reed and Onuf, both highly reputable Jefferson scholars, strive to understand Jefferson’s outlooks over his long life…Gordon-Reed and Onuf’s keen and fresh approach to Jefferson and his ideas will engage history buffs.” — Booklist (starred review)

“[T]he work proves to be a subtle, intriguing study of [Jefferson’s] Enlightenment ideals…. The authors make some trenchant observations regarding the effects of living in France on Jefferson’s tempering of the republican ideals, in showing him both the dangers of extremism and the hope of ‘ameliorating’ his slaves’ conditions by incorporating them into his patriarchal family. An elegant, astute study that is both readable and thematically rich.” — Kirkus Reviews

“With characteristic insight and intellectual rigor, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf have produced a powerful and lasting portrait of the mind of Thomas Jefferson. This is an essential and brilliant book by two of the nation’s foremost scholars—a book that will, like its protagonist, endure.” — Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

“A peerless team, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf pierce the mysteries of Jefferson’s character and at last offer a compelling explanation of how the republican statesman and plantation patriarch could coexist in a single soul. Jefferson’s flaw was not hypocrisy but conviction, his unswerving belief in paternalism as empowering and beneficent.” — Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality

“How did Jefferson’s sense of himself and his life missions affect how he handled his many roles, including revolutionary, president, and plantation owner? In this groundbreaking book, Gordon-Reed and Onuf look at Jefferson as a total person and how he set about to fulfill the goals he developed early and held throughout his career. Jefferson is endlessly fascinating, and this book shows why.” — Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs

“This inspired collaboration takes us as close as we’re likely to get to the way Thomas Jefferson understood himself and his times. Not content with clichés about a man who made his world anew, Gordon-Reed and Onuf show us the world that made the man…. Here is Jefferson as he might have painted his own image, a self-portrait comprised of equal parts sun and shadow.” — Jane Kamensky, author of Copley: A Life in Color

“No other recent scholar has done more than Annette Gordon-Reed to illuminate Jefferson’s private life; no historian has done more than Peter Onuf to explore the multiple facets of his public life. Together the coauthors’ intellectual and personal friendship has produced a remarkable portrait of Jefferson.” — Jack Rakove, author of Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America

852 RARE: David Sewall: Lawyer, Federal Judge, Weather Aficionado

It’s spring break at Harvard, although March can bring decidedly un-springlike weather to New England. After an unusually mild winter (except for one weekend of record-breaking cold), the first weekend of spring break started off as mild and sunny as a fine day in late April, and is now, well, very March-like. Weather is a perennial topic of conversation in New England (and everywhere else?). It affects us all and is a topic of conversation anyone can participate in and on which everyone seems to have an opinion.

Of all seasons, winter is perhaps especially ripe for discussions, whether one is marveling at, cursing, or boasting about record snowstorms, record cold, unseasonable warmth, and everything in between. Not surprisingly there’s nothing new about the weather as a rich source of conversation. As we approach the vernal equinox on March 20th this year, here’s a glimpse into the meteorological musings of David Sewall (1735-1825). Sewall was a 1755 Harvard graduate (and classmate of John Adams), a lawyer, and a judge, appointed by George Washington to the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine in 1789, a position he held until his resignation in 1818.

Historical & Special Collections has a letter from Sewall, written from his home in York, Maine (then part of Massachusetts) to an unidentified correspondent, on January 17, 1795.

HOLLIS 2204095_p1

Sewall begins with the acknowledgement of a small book, then talks of politics. But soon the topic of the weather slips in, when in the third or fourth line, he comments: “The month of December as to mildness and agreeableness of weather has surpassed any that the most ancient among us, can recollect. We have now scarcely enough for slaying [sleighing] ….” Shortly thereafter Sewall turns back to politics and government, pondering Alexander Hamilton’s intention to resign as Secretary of State at the end of the month. He mentions meeting and conversing with the Rev. David Osgood (1747-1822) in a public house in Woburn (Mass.) and discusses court and legislative issues. But the next day, a Sunday, when he picks up his pen to continue the correspondence, his opening line sets the tone for most of the rest of the letter.

HOLLIS 2204095_p2-3

“Last Evening we had a pretty fall of light snow … The cold increases and N.N.W. wind blows about the Snow considerably this Evening.” He asks “how comes it that we ever have snow?” and launches into a long, detailed, and thoughtful musing on trade winds, precipitation, temperatures, and weather patterns along the eastern coast of the United States. He marvels at having “known the thermometer to be at 6° below 0 and in less than 9 hours to be above the freezing point” and notes that “I have known the snow to dissolve faster toward the close of Winter with a Southerly Wind of 24 hours (or a little longer) continuance than with a moderate Rain, of the same duration.” Had he lived in our era, the good judge from Maine may have settled down at the end of a long day to watch the Weather Channel.

Faculty Book Talk: Cass Sunstein’s “Constitutional Personae,” Wed. March 30, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and panel discussion in celebration of Professor Cass Sunstein’s recently published book, Constitutional Personae: Heroes, Soldiers, Minimalists, and Mutes (Oxford Univ. Press).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2019 Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

poster constitutional personae

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) and most recently Why Nudge? (2014), Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas (2014), Choosing Not to Choose: Understanding the Value of Choice (2015), and The World According to Star Wars (2016). He is now working on group decisionmaking and various projects on the idea of liberty.

“Since America’s founding, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued a vast number of decisions on a staggeringly wide variety of subjects. And hundreds of judges have occupied the bench. Yet as Cass R. Sunstein, the eminent legal scholar and bestselling co-author of Nudge, points out, almost every one of the Justices fits into a very small number of types regardless of ideology: the hero, the soldier, the minimalist, and the mute.

Heroes are willing to invoke the Constitution to invalidate state laws, federal legislation, and prior Court decisions. They loudly embrace first principles and are prone to flair, employing dramatic language to fundamentally reshape the law. Soldiers, on the other hand, are skeptical of judicial power, and typically defer to decisions made by the political branches. Minimalists favor small steps and only incremental change. They worry that bold reversals of long-established traditions may be counterproductive, producing a backlash that only leads to another reversal. Mutes would rather say nothing at all about the big constitutional issues, and instead tend to decide cases on narrow grounds or keep controversial cases out of the Court altogether by denying standing.

As Sunstein shows, many of the most important constitutional debates are in fact contests between the four Personae. Whether the issue involves slavery, gender equality, same-sex marriage, executive power, surveillance, or freedom of speech, debates have turned on choices made among the four Personae–choices that derive as much from psychology as constitutional theory. Sunstein himself defends a form of minimalism, arguing that it is the best approach in a self-governing society of free people. More broadly, he casts a genuinely novel light on longstanding disputes over the proper way to interpret the constitution, demonstrating that behind virtually every decision and beneath all of the abstract theory lurk the four Personae. By emphasizing the centrality of character types, Sunstein forces us to rethink everything we know about how the Supreme Court works.” — Oxford University Press


Martha Minow




Martha Minow, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law


Mark Tushnet




Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law



Adrian Vermeule




Adrian Vermeule, John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law


More about Constitutional Personae: Heroes, Soldiers, Minimalists, and Mutes

“Cass Sunstein provides an enlightening look at the different ways to approach the Constitution. In doing so, he transcends ideology and helps us appreciate different perspectives. He also shows the virtue of his own favorite approach, that of minimalism, which seeks to respect traditions and long-settled practices.” — Walter Isaacson, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, and author of The Innovators

“In this remarkable addition to Oxford University Press’ ‘Inalienable Rights’ series on the American Constitution, Cass Sunstein persuasively speaks not to theories of constitutional interpretation, but to four archetypical judicial personalities reflected in opinion-writing, and in doing so he opens up an imaginative new perspective for appreciating our constitutional history.” — Peter L. Strauss, Betts Professor of Law, Columbia Law School

“In Constitutional Personae, Cass Sunstein analyzes judicial review in the United States in terms of four personalities or archetypes. He shows how this model illuminates a wide range of questions, and he offers a subtle restatement and defense of his favorite persona, the constitutional minimalist. Filled to the brim with insights, this is a splendid and imaginative contribution to constitutional theory.” — Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law, Yale Law School

“A novel approach…carefully reasoned and clearly explained, Sunstein’s approach offers a more insightful way of analyzing the positions of individual justices than resorting to simplistic ideologies.” – – Kirkus Reviews

“[A] valuable study of the different approaches that Supreme Court justices take in deciding cases…Given the significance of recent Supreme Court decisions on such issues as campaign finance, health care coverage, and marriage equality, Sunstein has performed a public service by enabling a better comprehension of how these judgments are reached.” — Publishers Weekly

Constitutional Personae has all sorts of treasures in it. Its classifications are illuminating.” — The New York Review of Books

Celebrate Fair Use Week!

The third annual Fair Use Week, sponsored by the Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC), is here!

fairuseweeklogoWait, what is Fair Use? To paraphrase from the Harvard University OGC Copyright website, Fair Use is the right to use a copyrighted work under certain conditions without permission of the copyright owner to prevent a rigid application of copyright law that would stifle the very creativity the law is designed to foster.

There are many events underway–here are some highlights!

Follow the conversation on the OSC’s copyright blogFair Use Week Tumblr, and Fair Use Week Twitter feed, where we will release details about the coveted Fair Use Week tote giveaway.

February 24

Association of Southeastern Research Libraries webinar, Mitigating Risk at the Front Lines: The Library Copyright First Responders Program at 2:00; Speaker, Kyle K. Courtney

February 25

Florida State University’s Publish or Perish: Conversations on Academic Publishing Symposium keynote address, “Where Will Publishing Be in 2030? A Look to the Future” at 2:45; Speaker, Kyle K. Courtney

February 26

Florida State University Institute on Copyright in Higher Education keynote address, “Fair Use: Past, Present, and Future of a Critical Legal Right” at 9:20 (watch the live webcast); Speaker Kyle K. Courtney

Find the full details for the week at the OSC Fair Use Week website.

March 10: The Magna Carta Lectures … and lunch!

Help us celebrate the closing of the Harvard Law School Library’s exhibit, One Text, Sixteen Manuscripts: Magna Carta at the Harvard Law School Library, by joining us for a program on Magna Carta through the ages. A light lunch will be served, but due to space limitations attendance is limited to 45.

Thursday, March 10, 2016, Noon – 1:30 pm, Caspersen Room, HLS Library, Langdell Hall, 4th floor


Magna Carta in the Fourteenth Century: From Law to Myth? Charles Donahue, Paul A. Freund Professor of Law, HLS

The Interpretation of Magna Carta in the Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Centuries. Stephen White, Visiting Professor of History, Harvard University

Moderator: Elizabeth Papp Kamali, Assistant Professor of Law, HLS

poster magna carta lectures-blog

Sponsored by the HLS Library and the Harvard Committee on Medieval Studies.

Faculty Book Talk: David W. Kennedy’s “A World of Struggle,” Wed. Mar. 9, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and panel discussion in celebration of Professor David W. Kennedy’s recently published book, A World of Struggle: How Power, Law, and Expertise Shape Global Political Economy (Princeton Univ. Press).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 at noon, with lunch
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2036 Milstein East B/C (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

david kennedy poster

Professor David W. Kennedy is Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School where he teaches international law, international economic policy, legal theory, law and development and European law. He joined the Harvard Law faculty in 1981 and holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a J.D. from Harvard. He is the author of numerous articles on international law and global governance. His research uses interdisciplinary materials from sociology and social theory, economics and history to explore issues of global governance, development policy and the nature of professional expertise. He has been particularly committed to developing new voices from the third world and among women in international affairs.

A World of Struggle reveals the role of expert knowledge in our political and economic life. As politicians, citizens, and experts engage one another on a technocratic terrain of irresolvable argument and uncertain knowledge, a world of astonishing inequality and injustice is born.

In this provocative book, David Kennedy draws on his experience working with international lawyers, human rights advocates, policy professionals, economic development specialists, military lawyers, and humanitarian strategists to provide a unique insider’s perspective on the complexities of global governance. He describes the conflicts, unexamined assumptions, and assertions of power and entitlement that lie at the center of expert rule. Kennedy explores the history of intellectual innovation by which experts developed a sophisticated legal vocabulary for global management strangely detached from its distributive consequences. At the center of expert rule is struggle: myriad everyday disputes in which expertise drifts free of its moorings in analytic rigor and observable fact. He proposes tools to model and contest expert work and concludes with an in-depth examination of modern law in warfare as an example of sophisticated expertise in action.

Charting a major new direction in global governance at a moment when the international order is ready for change, this critically important book explains how we can harness expert knowledge to remake an unjust world.” — Princeton Univ. Press


William W. Fisher


William W. Fisher, WilmerHale Professor of Intellectual Property Law and Faculty Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society



Janet Halley




Janet Halley, Royall Professor of Law


Samuel Moyn




Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University


Lucie White




Lucie White, Louis A. Horvitz Professor of Law


More about A World of Struggle: How Power, Law, and Expertise Shape Global Political Economy:

A World of Struggle offers a dramatically new and important analysis of the logics, techniques, and sites of global rule. In it, Kennedy draws attention to the significance of expert work in the global exercise of power, shedding new light on the background processes by which the world is interpreted for ‘decision makers,’ and by which those decisions are then interpreted in and for the world. Written with subtlety and startling insight, this book will take its place in the canon of essential reading for those interested in the nature of contemporary global governance.”— Andrew Lang, London School of Economics

“To change the world, you must understand how it is put together. Kennedy’s powerful analysis reveals how inequality and injustice become entrenched and what might be done in response. A must-read for people of good heart who inhabit the professions of law and policy. Our technocratic world can be remade: Kennedy helps us see how–and where to begin.”— José Ramos-Horta, former president of East Timor and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize

“David Kennedy, one of our most cerebral and critical thinkers, here challenges the tyranny of ‘experts,’ whose strident cacophony of claims all too often passes for the apex of policy debate. Drawing on history, law, and economics, and highlighting the new salience of regulation as a principal vector of policymaking, he charts a highly original path and calls for profound change in how we conceive of international society.”— David Malone, rector of the United Nations University

The Harvard Law School commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1949)


Robert Jackson, Opening Statement, November 21, 1945 U. S. Army Signal Corps, photographer Nuremberg Trial photograph collection VIA Record ID: olvwork373967

Robert Jackson, Opening Statement, November 21, 1945
U. S. Army Signal Corps, photographer
Nuremberg Trial photograph collection
VIA Record ID: olvwork373967

The first Nuremberg trial began on November 20, 1945.  The final trial ended in April 1949.  In the intervening time approximately 200 high ranking Nazi leaders were prosecuted for crimes committed during the World War II. The military tribunals created to conduct the trials sought to carry out criminal charges unprecedented in scope and complexity.  As  U.S. chief of counsel Robert H. Jackson said in his opening statement, “The wrongs we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive their being repeated”.   The Nuremberg trials provided the basis for the modern law of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and a model for recent international prosecutions for such crimes.

The Library has created a webpage, The Nuremberg Trials at 70, dedicated to the trials themselves and the Library’s extensive collection on trial related material. This site highlights both circulating and non-circulating material as well as additional resources located across the United States.  There is also a section that reviews Harvard’s connections to the trials (many Law School graduates served on the prosecution team) plus a timeline for the trials. A physical exhibit has also been installed in the case located just outside the Library’s Areeda Hall entrance. It features books and DVDs from the circulating collection, plus examples of manuscript material from various collections. The exhibit will be on display until the end of February.

Faculty Book Talk: Samuel Moyn’s Christian Human Rights, Wed. Feb. 24, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and panel discussion in celebration of Professor Samuel Moyn’s recently published book, Christian Human Rights (Univ. Penn. Press).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016 at noon, with lunch
New Location!:  Harvard Law School Room Lewis 214A  (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

moyn blog new location poster












Samuel Moyn is Professor of Law and History at Harvard University.

He received a doctorate in modern European history from the University of California-Berkeley in 2000 and a law degree from Harvard University in 2001. He spent thirteen years in the Columbia University history department, where he was most recently James Bryce Professor of European Legal History.

He has written several books in his fields of European intellectual history and human rights history, including The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Harvard University Press, 2010), and edited or coedited a number of others. His new book, based on Mellon Distinguished Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania in fall 2014, is Christian Human Rights (2015).

His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspective. In intellectual history, he has worked on a diverse range of subjects, especially twentieth-century European moral and political theory.

He is a co-editor of the journals Humanity and Modern Intellectual History. He helps with several book series: the Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought, the Cambridge University Press “Human Rights in History” series, and the University of Pennsylvania Press “Intellectual History of the Modern Age” series. He serves on the editorial boards of Constellations, the Historical Journal, and Modern Judaism.


Gerald L. Neuman

Gerald L. Neuman, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law, Harvard Law School



Charles S. Maier

Charles S. Maier, Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History, Harvard University



Michael Ignatieff


Michael Ignatieff, Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice, John F. Kennedy School of Government



More about Christian Human Rights:

“In Christian Human Rights, Samuel Moyn asserts that the rise of human rights after World War II was prefigured and inspired by a defense of the dignity of the human person that first arose in Christian churches and religious thought in the years just prior to the outbreak of the war. The Roman Catholic Church and transatlantic Protestant circles dominated the public discussion of the new principles in what became the last European golden age for the Christian faith. At the same time, West European governments after World War II, particularly in the ascendant Christian Democratic parties, became more tolerant of public expressions of religious piety. Human rights rose to public prominence in the space opened up by these dual developments of the early Cold War.

Moyn argues that human dignity became central to Christian political discourse as early as 1937. Pius XII’s wartime Christmas addresses announced the basic idea of universal human rights as a principle of world, and not merely state, order. By focusing on the 1930s and 1940s, Moyn demonstrates how the language of human rights was separated from the secular heritage of the French Revolution and put to use by postwar democracies governed by Christian parties, which reinvented them to impose moral constraints on individuals, support conservative family structures, and preserve existing social hierarchies. The book ends with a provocative chapter that traces contemporary European struggles to assimilate Muslim immigrants to the continent’s legacy of Christian human rights.” — Univ. Penn. Press

“Samuel Moyn has emerged as the most important voice on the history of human rights in the twentieth century, and his book Christian Human Rights will be of interest to anyone who cares about human rights in general and the often forgotten context of the run-up to the Universal Declaration in particular.”—  Jan-Werner Müller, Princeton University

Christian Human Rights is consistently and stimulatingly opinionated. Samuel Moyn maintains throughout his book an excellent and authentic vigor, demonstrating that the genesis of modern human-rights rhetoric can be found in a largely conservative Christian worldview that took shape in Western Europe (as well as in North America) in the 1940s.”—  Martin Conway, University of Oxford

Archiving Student Action at HLS

Historical & Special Collections requests records from Student Organizations

Over the past few months, students have worked to reshape Harvard Law School’s educational and cultural environment, as you have done throughout HLS’s history. As we all know, the work isn’t happening in a vacuum, but is part of a larger national movement to address cultural changes on campuses across the U.S. Thus issues being discussed at HLS are evidence of not only an historical moment at Harvard, but an historical moment in America.


Harvard Law Record, May 4, 1984

Harvard Law Record, vol. 78, no. 10 (May 4, 1984). © Harvard Law Record Corp.

When activity first began on campus, the Historical & Special Collections (HSC) staff thought deeply about what our role in this moment could and should be. HSC has always documented the history of HLS by collecting Law School publications (catalogs, admission packets, etc.) and faculty and student organization papers. But what we collect and how we collect it is rapidly changing. Gone are the days of paper as a primary format; now we archive hybrid collections containing physical material accompanied by digital files, websites, and email. Because the life expectancy for digital content is incredibly low and its variability high, documenting activity as it occurs is becoming an increasingly important method for archives to avoid losing important cultural and institutional memory.

So, we got to work. We started capturing blogs such as Reclaim Harvard Law, the Record’s HLS Untaped series, and Royall Asses using HLS library-grown technology We recently archived the post-its shared on faculty portraits and the posters displayed in Wasserstein.  These otherwise ephemeral items that are such a powerful visual part of the movement will now be catalogued and made openly available to researchers well into the future.

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HSC Assistant Jane Kelly prepares post-its for future research use. Photo by Lorin Granger

Now we’re asking students to help us expand these collections. Your voices are important, and we are committed to adding them to the historical record. Documents such as meeting records, flyers, photos, videos, emails, and Google Drive or DropBox collections are the raw material that researchers (writers, historians, documentarians, genealogists, legal scholars, and future students) will use to portray and contextualize this moment.

So as you, HLS students, prepare to mark the world by “contribut[ing] to the advancement of justice and the well being of society,” won’t you also be a part of our record here? If you are a member of a student organization, formal or informal, that would like to preserve the record of your organization’s contributions to HLS (or would just like to talk about what we are doing), please contact the Historical & Special Collections staff at to schedule a consultation. We hope to hear from you, and we’re excited to broaden our collections to include the very important work that HLS students do outside of the classroom.

HSC’s work isn’t happening in a vacuum, either! This initiative has been largely inspired by Princeton’s ASAP project and other archivists’ efforts in response to campus activity across the US.

Faculty Book Talk: Catherine J. Ross, Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights, Tue. Feb. 16, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and panel discussion in celebration of Harvard Graduate School of Education Visiting Scholar Catherine J. Ross recently published book, Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights (Harvard Univ. Press).

Best book on the First Amendment of 2015”  — First Amendment News, Concurring Opinions

Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at noon
Harvard Law School Room WCC 2019 Milstein West A/B  (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge

Catherine Ross Book Talk Poster











Catherine J. Ross is Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School. She specializes in constitutional law (with particular emphasis on the First Amendment), family law, and legal and policy issues concerning children.  Professor Ross has been a co-author of Contemporary Family Law (Thomson/West) through the Fourth Edition published in 2015.

During 2015-2016, Professor Ross is a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard School of Education. She was a Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton from 2008-2009. Professor Ross has taught as a visiting professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Boston College (where she held joint appointments in the School of Education and the History Department) and St. John’s School of Law in New York.

An elected Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Professor Ross is former chair of the ABA’s Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children, former chair of the Section on Law and Communitarianism of the Association of American Law Schools, and has served on a wide variety of ABA committees. She serves on the editorial board of the Family Courts Review, and is a former editorial board member of the Family Law Quarterly.

Prior to entering legal academia, Professor Ross was a litigator at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York, where she won major impact litigation on behalf of the city’s homeless population. Before attending Yale Law School, Professor Ross was on the faculty of the Yale Child Study Center, and the Bush Center on Child Development and Social Policy at Yale.


Michael Gregory



Michael Gregory, Clinical Professor of Law, Harvard Law School



Paul Horwitz


Paul Horwitz, Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, Gordon Rosen Professor of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law



Mark Tushnet



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


More about Lessons in Censorship: How Schools and Courts Subvert Students’ First Amendment Rights:

“American public schools often censor controversial student speech that the Constitution protects. Lessons in Censorship brings clarity to a bewildering array of court rulings that define the speech rights of young citizens in the school setting. Catherine J. Ross examines disputes that have erupted in our schools and courts over the civil rights movement, war and peace, rights for LGBTs, abortion, immigration, evangelical proselytizing, and the Confederate flag. She argues that the failure of schools to respect civil liberties betrays their educational mission and threatens democracy.

From the 1940s through the Warren years, the Supreme Court celebrated free expression and emphasized the role of schools in cultivating liberty. But the Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts courts retreated from that vision, curtailing certain categories of student speech in the name of order and authority. Drawing on hundreds of lower court decisions, Ross shows how some judges either misunderstand the law or decline to rein in censorship that is clearly unconstitutional, and she powerfully demonstrates the continuing vitality of the Supreme Court’s initial affirmation of students’ expressive rights. Placing these battles in their social and historical context, Ross introduces us to the young protesters, journalists, and artists at the center of these stories.

Lessons in Censorship highlights the troubling and growing tendency of schools to clamp down on off-campus speech such as texting and sexting and reveals how well-intentioned measures to counter verbal bullying and hate speech may impinge on free speech. Throughout, Ross proposes ways to protect free expression without disrupting education.” — Harvard Univ. Press

It is a revealing book about judicially sanctioned censorship… Well-argued and well-researched… Turn the pages of Lessons in Censorship and you will discover what it means for students to think freely and how courts have fashioned baseless arguments designed to squelch such thinking… Lessons in Censorship is a book that should be read and discussed by school officials at all levels of education. It is a work that should be pored over by school board officials and lawyers who represent school districts and college campuses. And its message should carry over into the memoranda and briefs that lawyers file to inform judges.—Ronald K. L. Collins, Concurring Opinions

Immensely informative… Ross also demonstrates that many school administrators have censored student speech, even in instances when they could not point to any tangible risk of disruption… As Ross illustrates, striking the right balance between order and free speech will not be easy. But action is urgently needed.—Glenn Altschuler, The Conversation

We teach our children to celebrate freedom of speech but what freedom do they have when their schools too often punish them for exercising it? Catherine Ross’s powerful and lucid exposé of the increasingly routine censorship of student speech is well worth our attention and concern.—Floyd Abrams, Cahill Gordon & Reindel, LLP

A magnificent book. Catherine Ross has given us a beautifully written and original contribution to our understanding of the nexus of constitutional law, lower courts, and everyday life in our public schools. She persuasively demonstrates that schools and judges too often teach ‘lessons in censorship’ that threaten the First Amendment and our vital culture of democracy.—Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine School of Law