Foreign Jurisdictions •

Book Series Spotlight: German Law Accessible

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Tax Law in Germany (2nd Edition, 2016)

The law library’s collection includes many English-language materials on German law. One especially helpful resource is the German Law Accessible series of books, published by the German legal publisher C.H. Beck.

Many of the titles in the German Law Accessible series focus on subjects related to commercial/business law. The most recent title in this series is no exception – it is the 2016 2nd edition of Tax Law in Germany (3rd floor of the Law Library’s ILS/Lewis Collection, call number KK7105.8 .H33 2016). Its authors, Florian Haase and Daniela Steierberg, are tax law experts in the Hamburg office of the international financial consulting firm Rödl & Partner.

In the introduction, the authors describe their book as being “written from a practitioner’s perspective…[offering] a succinct description of the law together with lots of examples.”  However, despite its practitioner-oriented focus, this book provides an ideal opportunity for academic researchers who do not read German to learn about taxation in Germany.  Subjects covered in the books include an overview of the German legal tax system, taxation issues related to corporations and partnerships, special tax problems involving cross-border investments, transfer pricing, and much more.

For more information about researching German law at HLS, visit our German Law Research Guide at http://guides.library.harvard.edu/GermanLaw.

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.

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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.

German Passports and Identification Documents: A History

In browsing the library’s German stacks recently (“KK” call numbers – 3rd floor of the Lewis/ILS building) I discovered a very cool book: an illustrated history of German passports and identification documents from the middle ages to the present.

Der Passexpedient: Geschichte der Reisepässe und Ausweisdokumente – vom Mittelalter bis zum Personalausweis im Scheckkartenformat
Andreas Reisen
Nomos Verlag, 2012

Andreas Reisen (whose last name, interestingly, is the infinitive form of the German verb “to travel”) must have had a lot of fun researching this book and exploring historical and modern examples of German passports and travel/identification documents.  Some have been scanned and included as illustrations, making the book appealing even to those who don’t read German.

When I mentioned this book to one of my colleagues, she asked, “They had passports in the middle ages?”  Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.  They weren’t little books filled with border guard stamps, however.  Instead, for example, they might have looked like this:

According to the caption, this is an “accompanying letter from Kaiser Carl V for Martin Luther for travelling to Worms” from 1521.  This letter was issued during a crucial period in the course of Luther’s life, as he had recently been excommunicated from the Catholic Church and was called to appear before the Diet of Worms to answer for his criticism of the church.  Ultimately, this journey, as a result of which he was a labeled a “convicted heretic,” was a significant stepping stone toward Luther forming the Lutheran Church.

By the 1800s, statutory requirements for passports in the area we now know as Germany were coming into force.  One example of this is the 1813 Allgemeines Paßregelement of the Royal State of Prussia. According to this law, foreign nationals, “regardless of profession, age, gender and religious belief, regardless if [they] arrive by water or land, or through an official post, or otherwise by wagon, horseback, or on foot, whether [they] would like to remain in our territories or simply pass through them,” must provide personal documentation that states one of several acceptable reasons for admission into Prussia.

(By the way, the publication in which this law originally appeared, Gesetz-Sammlung für die königlichen Preußischen Staaten, is available in print through the Harvard Depository.  Harvard’s print copy has also been digitized and is available through the HathiTrust database.  Click here to see page 47 of the 1813 volume, where this law was originally published.)

Examples of passports from the various governing entities in Germany in the mid-1800s follow a common format, with the person’s biographical information listed in the left-hand column, and the description of the reason the person is travelling on the right.

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Photos, however, did not start appearing in passports until the early 1900s.

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The second half of the book describes and shows the evolution of personal identification and travel documentation in Germany throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  It concludes by discussing the new personal ID card format that was introduced in 2010.

This is a fascinating historical survey of German passports and identification documents, thoroughly researched and well-illustrated with beautiful scanned images.  It’s well-worth a look, even if you don’t read much German.

“Transliteration” of Foreign Languages in HOLLIS Records

The law library’s print collection includes many non-English books and journals, including materials published in languages that do not use the Roman/Latin alphabet.

The example below shows the HOLLIS+ record of a Russian-language book that was recently added to the collection.  Information in several of the fields, including the title, is shown first in Cyrillic, and then in what is known as “transliterated” or “Romanized” Russian:

HOLLIS+ Record of a Russian Book in the Law Library.

HOLLIS+ Record of a Russian Book in the Law Library.

The law library’s catalogers use the ALA-LC Romanization rules to create the transliterated text. Romanization tables showing these rules, for languages from Amharic to Vai, are available to the public through the Library of Congress’s website: http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/roman.html.

Want to learn more about how Romanization works for non Latin/Roman alphabet-language materials in libraries?  Check out these resources:

Israeli Supreme Court Decisions

English-language translations of opinions from the Israeli Supreme Court are popular with many legal researchers. The Harvard Law School Library has a quick guide on options for finding these at http://guides.library.harvard.edu/IsraeliSupremeCourt.

A new database of translated Israeli Supreme Court decisions, VERSA: Opinions of the Supreme Court of Israel, has recently been launched by Cardozo Law School.  This database provides free online access to “hundreds of translated cases.”  Cardozo’s Israeli Supreme Court Project (ISCP) will continue to provide additional translated opinions to the database.  VERSA also includes information about ISCP research projects and events.

VERSA

German Corporate Law: New Bilingual Resource

One of the law library’s newest bilingual acquisitions is Standardvertragsmuster zum Handels- und Gesellschaftsrecht: Deutsch-Englisch (German-English Standard Forms and Agreements in Company and Commercial Law), by Dr. Dieter Stummel.  It is available in print in the law library under the call number KK2052.2 .S78 2015.

The 2015 5th edition includes many examples of documents that modern companies need to conduct their business under Germany’s corporate laws. These include registration applications, distribution and licensing agreements, corporate agreements and documents, sales and purchase agreements, real estate agreements, loan agreements, and employment agreements.  It also includes a selection of sample arbitration clauses.

The book uses a dual-column format, with the German text in the left column and its corresponding English text directly next to it in the right column:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This helpful dual-column format can also be found in some online language sources.  A great example of this is the Linguee online legal dictionary.  This source, which is available for German and more than 20 other languages,  is especially helpful if you are trying to understand a legal term in a particular context.  When you search for a term, the results list includes excerpts from legal and other texts that include the term you entered.  A translation is provided for each excerpt directly in the corresponding column position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the law library’s German Law Research Guide for more information about researching the German law.

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.

Our German Law Research Guide is all new!

GermanFlag_LargeAs of this week, the law library’s research guide for German law has a brand new look, as well as lots of new content.

The guide includes information about using print and electronic materials to research German legislation, case law, and legal secondary sources, such as statutory commentaries and journals.

In addition, illustrated research examples (with English-language explanations) are provided for the law school’s major German law subscription databases, Beck-Online and Juris.

Check it out at http://guides.library.harvard.edu/GermanLaw.

New eResources at Harvard

The Harvard Library has an astounding amount of resources, with new titles coming in every day!  For help efficiently navigating it all, make a time to meet with a librarian or contact the Reference Desk.

New resources at Harvard

American Indian Histories and Cultures

Manuscripts, artwork and rare printed books dating from the earliest contact with European settlers; with treaties, speeches and diaries, andd travel journals.

Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online 

Jonson’s complete writings;  and comprehensive body of essays and archives necessary for full study of Jonson’s life.

Digital Innovation South Africa

Scholarly resource focusing on the socio-political history of South Africa, particularly the struggle for freedom during the period  from 1950 to the first democratic elections in 1994.

Gallup Analytics     

Data from countries representing 98% of the world’s population; access Gallup’s U.S. Daily tracking and World Poll data to compare residents’ responses on topics such as economic conditions and education.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance

Authoritative information on theatre and performance from ancient Greek theatre to the latest developments in London, Paris, New York, and around the globe; covers dance, opera, radio, film, television, and popular performance.

Oxford Handbooks Online / Music 

Scholarly books (online) contain essays written by the foremost scholars in music.

Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management 

Strategic management is an emerging field with loosely defined concepts and boundaries; this encyclopedia seeks to give the field some definition.

Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing Archive [PEP]

An archive of the entire psychoanalytic literature in English, along with foreign and international journals.

SRDS (Kantar Media)

Circulation data and advertising rates for U.S. publications; market demographics and lifestyle market analysis – with info on attitudes toward sports, travel and leisure.

852 RARE: Old Books, New Technologies, and “The Human Skin Book” at HLS

Practicarum Cover and SpineBaaaaaad news for fans of anthropodermic bibliopegy: Recent analyses of a book owned by the HLS Library, long believed but never proven to have been bound in human skin, have conclusively established that the book was bound in sheepskin.

The final page of the book includes an inscription which states,

“The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace.”

Intrigued by this inscription, curators, conservators, and dermatologists have studied the book for years, but results were inconclusive. Thanks to a technique for identifying proteins that was developed in the last twenty years, we recently have been able to answer the question once and for all.

At the request of HLS Library curators and Weissman Preservation Center staff, Daniel Kirby, a conservation scientist at the Harvard University Art Museums’ Straus Center, analyzed the parchment binding of Juan Gutiérrez’ Practicarum quaestionum circa leges regias Hispaniae (Madrid, 1605-1606; HOLLIS no. 4317553). Kirby used a method called peptide mass fingerprinting to analyze nine samples of the front and back covers, binding, and glue. With peptide mass fingerprinting, the samples could readily be differentiated from other parchment sources including cattle, deer, and goat, as well as human skin. The glue was identified as a mixture of cattle and pig collagen.

If Jonas Wright was indeed a sheep, why would someone have written such an inscription? We’ll probably never know. Perhaps before it arrived at HLS in 1946, the book was bound in a different binding at some point in its history. Or perhaps the inscription was simply the product of someone’s macabre imagination.

In any event, we are indebted to Daniel Kirby’s analysis and are glad the question is finally settled. Score one for modern science! The volume (including the sheepskin binding) is being digitized and will be available online via HOLLIS in late 2014.