Cool •

852 Rare: Libelous Kentucky Broadsides

In politically polarized times such as these, when it feels like election season is endless and the mudslinging between political parties is relentless, it’s easy to despair. It may seem that we’ve reached a new low in politics, but our colorful— and at times violent— historical record reminds us this is hardly the case.

The broadsides shown below come from a 1941 Harlan County, Kentucky election. Insults and wild accusations were hurled by both opponents, which ultimately resulted in a libel case.

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4006542.

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4006542.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard's suicides and self defense., Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4029348.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard’s suicides and self defense. : I want to ask you voters if you…, Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], HOLLIS 4029348.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After accusing each other of an array of offenses that range from dishonesty to drunk driving to bootlegging to murder, the candidates eventually had to sum things up for voters:

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4006542.

A message to all the good truth-loving, taxpaying, church people of Harlan county; Howard, J. B. M., [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4006542.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard's suicides and self defense., Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4029348.

The secrets of Squire J.B.M. Howard’s suicides and self defense., Keller, John, [S.l. : s.n., 1941], Detail of HOLLIS 4029348.

Although we have not been able to locate the results of this Harlan County election, we can learn something about the alternately spirited and vicious nature of Eastern Kentucky politics from this material. The accusations in the broadsides are part of a long history of election violence in the area, though these particular claims may in fact be false.

Interestingly, it seems that Harvard Law School’s Professor Zechariah Chafee probably gave these broadsides to the library. You can see his name penciled in the margins, as well as the date the broadsides were acquired by the library—November 15, 1947. Historical & Special Collections holds Professor Chafee’s professional papers, the contents of which you can explore through the collection’s finding aid. This material relates to Chafee’s work as a law teacher, legal scholar, and defender of civil liberties.

Nerdy valentines for law students

If you’re looking for the perfect way to express both ardor and nerdiness this Valentine’s Day, we’ve got some suggestions for you!

First, NPR has a nice crop of valentines every year, though we gravitate toward the 2012 editions which include one that talks of courting supremely, and the 2011 editions, which include one that talks about violating Rule 47 CFR Part 73 of the FCC Radio Broadcast Rules in the name of speaking love (#6 in the slideshow). Nothing gets our law librarian hearts beating faster like a good citation to primary law!

We’re also fans of Georgetown University Law Weekly’s valetines. Whether your beloved favors the jurisprudence of Scalia or Ginsburg, you’ll be all set.

Closer to home, the Harvard Library also has a new crop of e-valentines to share with those you love. This year’s selection includes images of an old school card catalogue, a flower from Emily Dickinson’s herbarium, and a photo of Julia and Paul Child.

Enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Free resource: Historical Thesaurus of English

For fans of old words and synonyms, the Historical Thesaurus of English from the University of Glasgow may be of interest:

The HT is the only online resource to make every English word from the last 1,000 years and its meaning available to the public and fully searchable.

The HT contains a record of nearly 800,000 words used at any point over the last millennium. It also contains links to their synonyms and records when the word came into and disappeared from use.

Infodocket also notes that HT entries include direct links to the Oxford English Dictionary online, which Harvard subscribes to.

January Madness – Julius Erving (aka “Dr. J.”) and Watergate

What do NBA Hall of Famer Julius Erving and Watergate have in common?  Absolutely nothing … except for legal Hall of Famer– Archibald Cox.

It would be reasonable for a person to ask how the lives of two men working in such different professions could overlap.  Professor Cox never performed a “Rock the Baby” style dunk and Mr. Erving never served as a special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation. Their lives intersected from approximately December 1972 until May 1973 when Cox served as an arbitrator in the Matter of Julius Erving and the Virginia Squires Basketball Club of the American Basketball Association.

ABA

Page 1 of 2 page letter from Robert Carlson to Archibald Cox. Archibald Cox Papers, Box 66, Folder 5.

 

Very briefly:  Erving turned pro after his junior year at the University of Massachusetts and signed a 4-year contract with the Virginia Squires starting on October 1, 1971.  In April, 1972 he signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association – hence the legal issue. (Erving claimed that the Squires contract was invalid.)  Erving lost the case and returned to the Squires who folded shortly thereafter due to financial problems. He went on to a Hall of Fame career most notably with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cox was unable to complete his engagement as arbitrator for this case. In early May, 1973 he accepted appointment as the first Watergate special prosecutor.  In a letter to the attorneys for Erving v. the ABA, he apologized for removing himself explaining that, “It seemed to me that the same circumstances of national importance gave me no real choice but to undertake the assignment and made it proper to have to override the arbitral engagement.”

 

croppedwatergate

Portion of letter from Cox to attorneys announcing that he is stepping down as arbitrator. Cox Papers, Box 66, Folder 5

 

Historical & Special Collections holds the Archibald Cox papers, which has several boxes of material from his time as special prosecutor. The Library’s Watergate research material is enhanced by the James S. Doyle collection of Watergate material, and the papers of James Vorenberg, who was a senior assistant to Cox, (as well as a Harvard Law School colleague).

852 RARE: Was Reverend Sacheverell Dealt a Bad Hand?

Sacheverell Ace of Diamonds

Ace of Diamonds, Trial of Henry Sacheverell, HOLLIS no. 14148502

As regular readers of 852 RARE know, the HLS Library’s Historical & Special Collections houses a great collection of historical trial accounts from many jurisdictions, especially England and the United States. Our popular digital collection Studies in Scarlet: Marriage and Sexuality in the US and UK, 1815-1914, gathers together some, but by no means all, of our trials.

Researchers read accounts of trials to learn about particular cases, of course. But trials are interesting for many other reasons, some scholarly and some just plain fun. In trial accounts we can learn about class distinctions, the intersection of law and medicine, the treatment of women and people of color, and the rise of the popular press, which produced trial literature to feed a voracious reading public.

How, then, could we resist adding The Trial of Henry Sacheverell to our collection? Dating from around 1710, this item is an uncut sheet of playing cards that tells the story of the trial of Rev. Sacheverell with a series of illustrations and satirical verse. Our sheet features 26 images of playing cards (hearts and diamonds), each with an image of a conventional playing card at the top, a mock-heroic couplet at the bottom, and an image of the event described in the center.

Trial of Henry Sacheverell playing cards

Trial of Henry Sacheverell, HOLLIS no. 14148502

Dr. Sacheverell was impeached by the Whig-dominated Parliament in 1710 for preaching two sermons that advocated the Tory doctrines of non-resistance and passive obedience. As punishment, Sacheverell was forbidden to preach for three years and his two sermons were ordered to be burned. Many viewed him as a martyr. “Sacheverell Riots” erupted in London and other parts of the country, which led to the downfall of the Whig ministry in 1710 and the passing of the Riot Act in 1714.

Henry Sacheverell is well-represented in Harvard’s library collections, and many conventional accounts of his trial may be found in HOLLIS, the Harvard Library catalog.

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.