Cool •

852 RARE: Hiding in Plain View – Price caps on Spanish books

Earlier this year Historical & Special Collections acquired a 1571 edition of the Spanish bishop and jurist Diego de Covarrubias y Leyva’s Clementinae, si furiosus, de homicidio, relectio—a treatise on murder published in Salamanca.

Title page of Clementinae, si furiosus, de homicidio, relectio, 1571

Title page of Clementinae, si furiosus, de homicidio, relectio, 1571

While cataloging it, I couldn’t help but notice a half-size sheet of paper tipped in following the title page.

Tasa insertThe wording looked vaguely familiar, one of the preliminaries that readers usually skips over to get to the main text. But the fact that this slip of paper appeared to be a last minute addition caught my eye. What exactly was it anyway? And how was it related to the phrase at the foot of the title page: “Esta tassado en“?

Detail of the title page: "Esta tassado en"

Detail of the title page: “Esta tassado en”

The slip of paper turns out to be a tasa (or tassa) the maximum retail price allowed for the book. This was established by the powerful Council of Castile and certified by an “escrivanos” (a clerk or notary)–in this case one Domingo de Zavala. The price of books had been regulated by law since the late fifteenth century. This price cap was based on the number and size of sheets of paper used in the production of every book published in Castile, no matter what the topic.

In the case of this slender volume of canon law, the maximum price was three maravedis per sheet. The sheets referred to in this book’s tasa (“cada pliego escripto de molde”) are the printed sheets as they came off the press— not the actual pages in the final product. This is because in the hand-press period (approximately 1455 to 1830) a single sheet, folded and cut, could produce anywhere from two to sixty-four pages, depending on the desired size of the finished book.

Unlike the tasa inserted into this copy of Covarrubias’ work, most tasas, sometimes combined with licenses, are clearly identified as such:

The license and tasa in "Capitulos generales de las cortes del año de ochenta y seys, fenecidas y publicadas en el de nouenta" (Published in Madrid, 1590)

The license and tasa in Capitulos generales de las cortes del año de ochenta y seys, fenecidas y publicadas en el de nouenta (Published in Madrid, 1590)

Sometimes the tasa is stated simply at the foot of the title page:

Detail from title page of "Reportorio de la nueva recopilacion de las leyes del reyno" (Published in Alcalá de Henares, 1571)

Detail from title page of Reportorio de la nueva recopilacion de las leyes del reyno (Published in Alcalá de Henares, 1571)

Perhaps the latter option was the original intention in Covarrubias’ 1571 edition …

Esta tassado en… but for reasons unknown the maximum retail price established for the book was never added so the separate tasa statement needed to be inserted after printing.

In addition to capping book prices, the Council of Castile had a firm hand on the business of publishing and printing books in other ways. This included the issuing of licenses to publish, privileges (the right to reprint), censorship, and other forms of governmental oversight. The Spanish book trade continued to be tightly regulated well into the eighteenth century, but the tasa for books was discontinued in 1763, early in the reign of Carlos III, King of Spain.

Support Open Access Scholarship with the Open Access Button

Open Access Button logo. CC BY.

Open Access Button logo. CC BY.

As you may already know, this week is Open Access Week, a week devoted to “promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research,” and Harvard is hosting a number of events in recognition of this important goal (you can find the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communication website).

One way you can advocate for Open Access now and in the future (while simultaneously helping your own research) is to start using Open Access Button. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, you can click on it every time you encounter an academic work that is behind a paywall. Pushing the button (which works in all browsers and also offers a Chrome plugin and a Firefox extension as well as a version for use on Android devices) will automatically search for a free version of the paper that you can access immediately and, if such a version is not found, will automatically contact the author about accessing the paper. If you can’t access the work immediately, your story will be collected and added to the list of stories used by Open Access Button to advocate for changes in the publishing approach for academic works. It is important to note that Open Access Button will make information about your use of the button publicly available, but this information will help to show the importance of Open Access in academia and just might help you find Open Access versions of scholarship you need.

Are you a developer? Open Access Button is licensed under an open source software license and all of their code is available on GitHub. Check out their For Developers page to learn about how you can contribute to the project.

Have You Ever Wanted to Contribute to Wikipedia?

OAlogoIf so, now is the time! As you may already know, next week is Open Access Week. To celebrate this event, Harvard is hosting a number of events (you can see the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communications website) including two Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons. The first Edit-A-Thon will be held on Monday, October 20th from 3 to 6pm in Room B-30 of Lamont Library. It will focus in particular on the over 1300 images that have been added to Wikimedia Commons from the Houghton Collection and will also offer instruction for those who are new to editing Wikipedia. The second Edit-A-Thon will be held on Friday, October 24th from 1pm to 3pm in Science Center B09 and will include help in creating a Wikipedia account and editing or creating articles. Both events are designed to encourage people to drop by for as much or as little time as they can spare, so stop by one or both to learn about how you can contribute to Wikipedia.

If you want to create an account before the event or if you aren’t able to attend, you can also check out our guide entitled Contributing to Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons to learn more about how to start and account and start making a contribution!

Bestlaw – A New Tool That Aims to Make Westlaw Better

Bestlaw LogoUsers of WestlawNext will be happy to know that there is a new tool that might make your research just a little bit easier. A law student from the UC Berkeley School of Law has created a browser extension called Bestlaw that, in the words of their website, “add[s] the features Westlaw forgot.” Among these features are options for a more readable presentation of the text that removes extraneous menus and addition sources, the option to share the link to a document more seamlessly via email or social media, a feature that prevents you from getting signed off automatically, and tools for copying information about the case. Perhaps more interesting for many law students, one of the pieces of information that you can copy with a single click is the Bluebook citation for the document you are reading. Right now this feature only works for reported federal cases, but there are plans to extend it to other documents on Westlaw as well. While you should always check your citations and not rely on a third party to create them for you, initial tests of this feature produced correct citations.

Currently Bestlaw is only available as a browser extension for Chrome and it only works with Westlaw, but the website for the tool says that a Firefox version and features that will work with Lexis are also in the works. If you want to try it out, you the installation process requires only two clicks and if you decide you don’t like it, the website links to clear instructions for both disabling and removing it.

If you are interested in learning about other browser extensions that can help you make your research more efficient, stop by our training session on October 28th. For a full list of our technology training sessions, see our research training calendar.

New Exhibit: Life Beyond the Law

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce its new exhibit Life Beyond the Law: Exploring Student Life Outside the Harvard Law School Classroom is now on view in the Caspersen Room on the fourth floor of Langdell Hall.

Graduate Div. Picnic, September 1977 by Joan Lebold Cohen; Volleyball game between Austin Hall and Littauer Center, April 1979. From the Photographs of Harvard Law School Students collection.

Graduate Div. Picnic, September 1977 by Joan Lebold Cohen; Volleyball game between Austin Hall and Littauer Center, April 1979. From the Photographs of Harvard Law School Students collection.

This exhibit examines the experiences of Harvard Law School students from the mid-1840s to the present. It focuses on life outside the classroom along the themes of off-campus activities, leisure and the arts, and athletics. Largely told in their own words, this exhibit gives a glimpse into the lives of individual students whose experiences are captured in letters to friends and family, personal diaries, student publications, and photographs.

Curated by Jane Kelly and Lesley Schoenfeld, Life Beyond the Law will be on view in the Caspersen Room 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM through December 12, 2014. A companion website to this exhibit can be found here.

852 RARE: Last Chance to View Summer Exhibits!

If you have not had a chance to view the exhibits in the Library’s Caspersen Room, now is the time! Our special copy of the Declaration of Independence, generously lent by Marc (HLS 1984) and Robin Wolpow and family, is on view through Friday August 15. And the last day of our summer exhibit, Spanning the Centuries: an Exhibit of Recent Acquisitions 1579-1868, is Friday August 22. The Caspersen Room is open weekdays 9 to 5. 

Watch this space for news of our fall exhibits, coming soon!

852 : RARE – After the Bastille was Stormed

On July 14, 1789 French revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, a prison that served as a symbol of the unjust treatment of the French citizenry by the monarchy, thus sparking the French Revolution. King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were dethroned during the revolution, tried and found guilty of treason, and executed by way of the guillotine.

Historical & Special Collections (HSC) holds many volumes relating to Louis XVI’s trial for those researchers interested in the ultimate demise of France’s last monarch.

Le Procès de Louis XVI, ou, Collection complette des opinions, discours et mémoires des membres de la Convention nationale, sur les crimes de Louis XVI, ouvrage enrichi des diverses pìeces justificatives ... (Hollis 004040555)

Le Procès de Louis XVI, ou, Collection complette des opinions, discours et mémoires des membres de la Convention nationale, sur les crimes de Louis XVI, ouvrage enrichi des diverses pìeces justificatives … (Hollis 004040555)

Proces de Louis XVI...

[Procès de Louis XVI, ci-devant roi des francais, imprimé par ordre de la convention nationale.] (Hollis 004390413)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One volume, The Trial at Large of Louis XVI. Late King of France. Containing a Most Complete and Authentic Narrative of every Interesting and Important Circumstance Attending the Accusation — Trial, Defence, Sentence — Execution, &c. of this Unfortunate Monarch. (Hollis 004039665) is available online through Making of Modern Law, Trials 1600-1926. HSC has contributed a number of titles to this online resource, which is available to users with a Harvard ID and PIN. Included in this text is King Louis XVI’s defense of his fleeing Paris with his family – the primary impetus of the treason charge. He writes “….the motives which induced me to quit Paris: – They were, the threats and outrages committed again[s]t my family and my[s]elf, and which have been circulated in different publications; and all the[s]e in[s]ults have remained unpuni[s]hed.  I thence thought it was neither [s]afe nor proper for me to remain any longer in Paris; but, in quitting the capital, I never had an intention of going out of the kingdom (pg. 20).” The account of Marie Antoinette’s trial (Hollis 013967138) is also available through Making of Modern Law.

First page of Opinion de Huet de Guerville sur le procès de Louis XVI. (Hollis 004390530)

First page of Opinion de Huet de Guerville sur le procès de Louis XVI. (Hollis 004390530)

Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of King Louis XVI's lawyers in his treason trial. (olvwork_188663)

Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of King Louis XVI’s lawyers in his treason trial. (olvwork_188663)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Researchers interested in this historical moment can also find two portraits of Chertien Guillaume de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, one of the lawyers to King Louis XVI during his treason trial, in HSC’s visual collections and made available on VIA. Malesherbes came out of retirement in order to defend the King, whom he had served in his younger years. Despite being generally well-liked and respected, Malesherbes also met the same demise as the King and Queen, beheaded at the guillotine in 1794.

852 RARE: Using Google Earth to Map the Collection

We recently experimented with a new way to view our current Harvard Law School Library exhibit, Spanning the Centuries: Recent Acquisitions, 1579-1868. We used Google Earth to create a chronological tour of the exhibit, pinpointing the towns and cities where each item came from. Watch the globe spin as you click from item to item in the exhibit!

Here is a link to the Google Earth version of the exhibit. You will need to install Google Earth to view it.

Besides being cool and fun (if a bit dizzying) to watch, Google Earth provides a graphic look at where items in an exhibit – or an entire collection – came from, in a way that plain text cannot. In our exhibit, most of the earliest material came from Europe, shifting to England and then the U.S. as the centuries passed. Though this exhibit does not delve deeply into the full provenance of the items on view, it would be interesting to use Google Earth to graphically trace every step of a book or manuscript as it changes hands over time.

We hope you enjoy this new and different look at our exhibit. Thanks to Carli Spina, Emerging Technologies and Research Librarian, for thinking of the idea and making it happen!

852 Rare: From Pentonville to Van Diemen’s Land

Broadsides, ephemeral publications printed for a very specific purpose, often offer a glimpse into a specific moment in history that could easily be lost. Historical & Special Collections holds hundreds of broadsides, including the rather battered notice to prisoners in London’s Pentonville Prison shown here.

Notice to Pentonville Prisoners. London, 1842-1862? HOLLIS 9095766.

Notice to Pentonville Prisoners. London, 1842-1862? HOLLIS 9095766.

The notice lays out the three possible outcomes prisoners faced, all of which involved transport to a penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land. Van Diemen’s Land—the name Europeans originally gave to Tasmania—served as a penal colony from the early 1800s to 1877. Depending on their behavior in prison prior to transport, prisoners could look forward to a life of near freedom or continued imprisonment and labor in the colony.

Map of Australia from "Report from the Select Committee on Transportation..." HOLLIS 3803660.

Map of Australia from “Report from the Select Committee on Transportation…” HOLLIS 3803660.

Transportation—that is, the transport of prisoners—to Van Diemen’s Land ended in 1853, though the last penal settlement did not close until 1877. During this time, prisoners in the “first class” were granted a ticket of leave that allowed them to work for themselves on the condition that they did so within a specified area and regularly reported to their local authorities.[1]

Detail of map of Australia from "Report from the Select Committee on Transportation..." showing the northern coast of Van Diemen's Land. HOLLIS 3803660.

Detail of map of Australia from “Report from the Select Committee on Transportation…” showing the northern coast of Van Diemen’s Land. HOLLIS 3803660.

In addition to this broadside, Historical & Special Collections holds a report by the Select Committee on Transportation, published in 1837. The committee was “appointed to inquire into the System of Transportation, its Efficacy as a Punishment, its Influence on the Moral State of Society in the Penal Colonies, and how far it is susceptible of improvement.”[2] The report claimed to draw no conclusions, but stands as a collection of observations and documents related to prisoners’ transport to penal colonies. A colored fold-out map is included in the report, and the northern end of Van Diemen’s Land can be seen off the southeastern coast of Australia.

The report contains minutes of evidence taken before the committee, with witnesses who ranged from judges and lawyers to members of the clergy and military. Among the many appendices is a chart detailing the “Return of Applications made by the Principal Superintendent of Convicts for Tickets of Leave, for the Month ending 30th November 1832.” An excerpt of the chart shown here explains why a prisoner was or was not granted a ticket of leave and includes remarks from the superintendent, extracts from police records, and the lieutenant governor’s decision. In this case, the prisoner’s request was approved. The second report by the Committee on Transportation published the following year has been digitized and is available to users with a Harvard ID.

Detail of chart from Report from the Select Committee on Transportation. HOLLIS 3803660.

Detail of chart from Report from the Select Committee on Transportation. HOLLIS 3803660.

The New South Wales government has undertaken a project to digitize and index Australia’s earliest convict records. A guide to the index can be found here. Closer to home, though, you can find additional material related to the history of penal colonies, prisons, and prisoner transport in Historical & Special Collections.


[1] “Ticket of Leave, 1810-1875.” New South Wales Government State Reocrds. http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/indexes-online/indexes-to-convict-records/index-to-tickets-of-leave/tickets-of-leave

[2] Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Select Committee on Transportation. “Report from the Select Committee on Transportation [its efficacy as a punishment; its influence on the moral state of society in the penal colonies ...] together with the minutes of evidence, appendix, and index. Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed, 14 July 1837.” London: 1837. HOLLIS #3803660.

The Beautiful Game: The Law of Soccer / Football

In honor of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, the law library has published a new research guide on soccer/football and the law.

The guide includes links to internet resources, a multi-lingual list of the Harvard Libraries’ related print holdings, information about finding journal and periodical articles, and a directory of recent soccer/football legal news.

 photo credit: Jason Bagley via photopin cc


photo credit: Jason Bagley via photopin cc