Harvard Law School Library News •

HLS Library Exhibit News

Need a study break? Stop by the HLS Library’s Caspersen Room on the fourth floor of Langdell Hall to view our current and soon-to-be-gone exhibits.

Beyond Cambridge: Two Centuries of HLS Faculty Work in and on Africa will close at 5 pm this Friday, April 25.

Harvard Law School Dean, Educator, and Colleague: Celebrating James Vorenberg Through His Papers continues through Commencement 2014.

The Declaration of Independence, generously lent by the family of Robin and Marc (HLS 1984) Wolpow, will be on view through mid-August 2014.

Coming soon: an exhibit of some of the books, manuscripts and broadside posters added to the Library’s Historical & Special Collections, and an exhibit of law-related bobbleheads produced by The Green Bag.

The Caspersen Room is open Monday-Friday 9 to 5. Please visit us soon!


852 RARE: Real-life Murders and Bibliographical Mysteries

Intriguing as special collections materials are, cataloging may sound like a dull line of work until you discover that not infrequently it involves solving–or attempting to solve—mysteries.  This was the case earlier this winter when we acquired a lurid eight-page pamphlet with an unknown publication date:

The life of Elizabeth Brownrigg, who was executed at Tyburn, for starving Mary Clifford to death, one of her apprentices. Upon which is founded the popular peice [sic] of “Mary Clifford,” performing at the City of London Theatre.


Title page

Title page

Brownrigg’s arrest, trial, and execution occurred in 1767 and the bookseller speculated that the pamphlet may have been printed about that time, as were other accounts of the crime. Typographically, however, this pamphlet looked like a nineteenth century publication.  The imprint statement read simply “Printed and published by J.V. Quick, Bowling Green Lane, Clerkenwell” but the name “Quick” rang a bell.   More than a dozen broadsides printed in the 1830s by J.V. Quick are part of the Harvard Law School Library’s extensive collection of crime broadsides. John Vandenburg Quick, a London printer of ballads, broadsides, and light poetry was in trade between 1823 and 1853.

The dates of Quick’s printing career helped to narrow the imprint date of the pamphlet, but a thirty year date range was still less than ideal.. The key to establishing an imprint date was the caption on the pamphlet’s hand-colored frontispiece: “An interesting scene from the popular drama of Mary Clifford, as performed at the City of London Theatre.”


A quick search revealed that the City of London Theatre opened in 1837, closed in 1868, and was destroyed by fire in 1871.

This information placed the date of the publication sometime between 1837 and 1853, better than 30 years, but still rather broad. When attempts to find information on when the play turned up nothing, a staff member from The Victoria & Albert Museum’s Theatre & Performance collection found the answer in a website of “early Victorian penny fiction” called Price One Penny (POP)  which notes that the production Mary Clifford, the foundling apprentice girlpremiered on February 11, 1839. (Apparently there were subsequent productions of the play at the Britannia Hoxton theatre in 1848, 1856 and 1871.)

Like Massachusetts’ own Lizzie Borden, whose 1893 trial continues to provide entertainment for audiences many years later, the gruesome story of Elizabeth Brownrigg and Mary Clifford entertained London audiences long after their deaths and it was thanks to this that the cataloging mystery was solved.  




New Exhibit: Beyond Cambridge: Two Centuries of Harvard Law School Faculty Work in and on Africa

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce its new exhibit: Beyond Cambridge: Two Centuries of Harvard Law School Faculty Work in and on Africa, on view in the library’s Caspersen Room until April 27, 2014. 

Africa-display-web-reduced text-cropped

 It’s no secret that Harvard Law School faculty do not – and have not – restricted their time and knowledge to the confines of Harvard. This exhibit focuses on the experience of four faculty members in Africa. The faculty, Simon Greenleaf, Arthur Sutherland, Erwin Griswold and Roger Fisher did work ranging from the promotion of education in Liberia in the mid-nineteenth century to involvement in South Africa during the country’s transition from apartheid to free elections in the late twentieth century – and donated their respective papers and manuscripts to the Harvard Law School Library.

 The exhibit, curated by Ed Moloy and Mary Person, will be on view in the Caspersen Room Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM through April 27, 2014.

Library to close at 2 p.m. on January 2nd and reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday, January 4th

Due to the current prediction of substantial snow accumulation and severe weather throughout Boston and Cambridge starting today and continuing through Friday, the Harvard Law School Library will close at two p.m. today (Thursday, January 2nd) and will remain closed all day Friday, January 3rd. While closed, the library will NOT be accessible via the 24 hour swipe card mechanism. WCC WILL remain accessible during this period. The library will reopen on Saturday, January 4th at 9am.

Library Hours Over Winter Break

Photo by jspad. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Photo by jspad. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

With Winter Break fast approaching, keep in mind that the library will be operating on limited hours over the break. The reference desk will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, December 21st and 22nd. The entire library will be closed from noon on Tuesday, December 24th until 9am on Thursday, January 2nd. Be sure to check out any books you will need over the break before we close! Also, if you feel like playing some games over the break, be sure to check out the library’s collection of board games. You can check them out for the entire break!

Library Exhibit News

Take a break from studying and visit some new, ongoing, and soon-to-be-history exhibits in the Caspersen Room:

Women at HLS: 60 Years of Transformation closes this Friday, December 13, so see it while you can!

An exhibit celebrating the release of the Papers of James Vorenberg continues on view through Commencement 2014.

And last but not least, the historic copy of the Declaration of Independence, generously lent by the family of Robin and Marc (HLS 84) Wolpow, will be on view through Reunion Weekend, April 2014. 

The Caspersen Room is open weekdays from 9 to 5. Enjoy the exhibits, and good luck with exams!

SJD Guide to Law Library Services & SJD Research Classes

Please see our brand new SJD Guide to Law Library Services.  You can find out about FRIDA, the contact information of your personal librarian, and many other services for our SJDs.

We are also offering for the first time ever research classes to our SJDs!!! Here’s the fall lineup:

Tue, 9/24 – Bibliography Tools

Mon, 11/4 & 6 – Multidisciplinary Research

Wed, 11/13 – Current Awareness Tools

Thu, 12/5 – Finding, Making and Using Data

Wed, 12/11 – Publishing

For more information about the sessions and to sign up, visit our, Research Training Calendar.

852 RARE: Historical & Special Collections Open House

Manuscript BindingsThe Law School Library’s Historical & Special Collections is having a back-to-school Open House! During the first two weeks of the semester, September 3-6 and 9-13, HSC will be open weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm, no appointments necessary. Stop by the Elihu Root Reading Room on the fourth floor of Langdell Hall to say hello, learn about our collections of rare books, art, and manuscripts, and pick up some HSC giveaways. For the safety of our collections, food and drinks are always prohibited in the Root Room; please leave your drinks and water bottles outside.

Beginning September 16, the Reading Room will be open by appointment Monday –  Friday 10 am to 5 pm. If you wish to use rare books or early manuscripts in HSC’s collections, email specialc@law.harvard.edu at least one business day in advance to arrange an appointment. Please allow two business days for modern manuscripts and visual materials, as many of them must be paged from offsite. For more information, visit the “Planning Your Visit” section of HSC’s webpage, and do not hesitate to email us with questions.

Occasionally, the Root Room will be closed to researchers due to class visits or maintenance work. Whenever possible, these closures will be announced on HSC’s main page under “Special Hours” or “Special Notices.”

We look forward to seeing you at the Open House!

– The HSC Staff: Karen Beck, Jane Kelly, Ed Moloy, Margaret Peachy, Mary Person, and Lesley Schoenfeld

Last Chance: “Research Revealed” Exhibit Closes Soon

The Library’s exhibit, Research Revealed: Six Scholars Explore Historical & Special Collections, will close on August 23 at 5 pm. If you have not yet seen it, or want to see it again, stop by the Caspersen Room on Level 4 weekdays from 9 to 5. And watch this space for news of our fall exhibit, celebrating women at HLS, which will open in September.

New Exhibit: Research Revealed

Research Revealed ImageVisit the HLS Library’s Caspersen Room to view our latest exhibit: Research Revealed: Six Scholars Explore Historical & Special Collections. This exhibit celebrates the relationship between the staff of Historical & Special Collections (HSC) and the scholars who visit us to use our collections.

Over the past five years, HSC staff has fielded an average of nearly 600 inquiries per year from around the world. Approximately a third of these yearly inquiries result in a visit to HSC’s reading room, the Root Room. While HSC staff rarely has the time to immerse ourselves deeply in any one item or collection, we are fortunate to work with and learn from our researchers. This exhibit features a variety of material used by six of our researchers over the past several years: Rowan Dorin, Moira Gillis, Andrew Porwancher, Geoff Shaw, Julia Stephens, and the Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation.

This exhibit was curated by the staff of HSC: Karen Beck, Jane Kelly, Edwin Moloy, Margaret Peachy, Mary Person, and Lesley Schoenfeld. It will be on view through August 9, 2013. The Caspersen Room is open Monday – Friday 9 to 5.