Historical & Special Collections • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

852 RARE: From Paper Plates to Sticky Notes, Documenting Student Activism

Historical & Special Collections (HSC) has been working hard since the spring of 2016 to collect material that helps tell the story of student life at Harvard Law School (HLS), most recently in the form of the HLS Community Capture Project. Given our focus on archiving student action, it was very exciting to find a nondescript, cardboard box tucked away in the Library’s art office, contained objects from a student protest in 1987.

On the front of the box scribbled in pencil were notes made by Bernice Loss, the School’s first art curator. Loss, a trained artist (and spouse of HLS faculty member Louis Loss) started to look after the School’s art collection in the early 1970s. In 1977, she was named the first HLS art director, later becoming the curator of the art collection and a member of the Library’s Special Collections Department (created in 1985). Loss’ inscription reads: 1987 / Paper Plate Faces / (To protest too many male faces in collection). Inside are more than 50 papers plates with images and slogans written in marker meant to highlight the larger number of white, male portraits and the lack of women and professors of color. According to Loss’ notes, these plates were placed in the hallways of Austin Hall, on books in the Austin Hall north classroom; on the frames of pictures in Langdell Hall; as well as a few other locations on campus.

Piece of paper and 4 plates

A sign and examples of the paper plates recently rediscovered.
Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

During her tenure, Loss worked to diversify the portrait collection, overseeing the acquisition of portraits of women and people of color including Judge Ruth Abrams (LL.B. 1956), Florence Allen, Clarence Clyde Ferguson, and George Lewis Ruffin (LL.B. 1869). However, then as now, the collection was predominantly made up of portraits of white men.

Like the notes students placed “beside portraits of black faculty, expressing appreciation for their pedagogy, scholarship, and character” in response to the vandalism of photographs of Black faculty members (and later archived by HSC), these paper plates are extremely ephemeral, making it all the more exciting that they have survived more than 30 years. They also raise interesting questions regarding their storage and preservation, as well as the ethics of collecting student protest material. Did students consider what would happen to the plates after they put them up? Were they involved in the transfer of material to the Library? How does one care for paper objects that are more 3-D than flat?

The plates and their accompanying material will now be formally accessioned and made available to anyone who would like to see them.

If you were a student involved in this protest, we would love to hear from you and learn more about this action and how the HLS community responded.

Visit Historical & Special Collections (and lots of other archives!) during Cambridge Open Archives this June

This year Historical & Special Collections is celebrating Cambridge Open Archives’ 10th Anniversary as part of two weeks of behind-the-scenes tours at 15 archives, libraries, and special collections around Cambridge! Get a closer look at special collections and archival material here at HLS, as well as 14 other archives at Harvard and across the city.

 

: Unite to Support Rent Control flyer with additional information about Cambridge Open Archives

Unite to Support Rent Control flyer, Records of the Cambridge Tenants’ Union, Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections, Box 11, Folder 1.

When:   June 11-15 and June 18-21, 2018
Where: 
Various locations in Cambridge, including Historical & Special Collections
Cost:     
Free! Space is limited, however, so be sure to register below.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER [Read More]

Coming to Historical & Special Collections on June 1: HOLLIS Special Request

On June 1, 2018, Harvard Law School Library’s Historical & Special Collections (HSC) will begin using HOLLIS Special Request!

HOLLIS Special Request allows you to request material to view in our reading room and to request reproductions of HSC’s materials. HOLLIS Special Request replaces paper registration and request forms, and will make it easier for you to keep track of appointment and reproduction requests. Appointments in HSC’s reading room, the Root Room, are available Tuesday-Friday between 10:00 and 5:00.

Use HOLLIS Special Request to:

  • Submit requests to use HSC material in our reading room via links in the Harvard Library catalog, HOLLIS
  • Submit orders for reproductions including digital scans of Harvard special collections materials
  • Track the status of your requests in a single location
  • Access detailed information about past requests

Many Harvard special collections and archives already use HOLLIS Special Request. Once you have created an account you can use it to request material from all participating Harvard libraries and keep track of your requests in a single location.

To get started, create your HOLLIS Special Request account now!

Here’s a quick tutorial to help you get started, and some FAQs about using HOLLIS Special Request and HSC’s collections. We are excited about HOLLIS Special Request and look forward to going live on June 1!

We’re hiring: Project Archivist, Justice Antonin Scalia Papers

Antonin Scalia, HLS Yearbook Photo, 1960The Harvard Law School Library seeks an experienced, collaborative, and service-oriented processing archivist for a one-year term beginning July 1, 2018. Reporting to the Curator of Modern Manuscripts within the Historical & Special Collections unit (HSC), the successful candidate will survey United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s collection of scholarly and professional work, develop a multi-year processing plan, and begin describing the collection in an Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aid.

More details–including duties, responsibilities, and qualifications and how to apply–available at our job posting.

Learn more about the donation of the Justice’s papers to the Library in our earlier post, Justice Scalia’s papers donated to HLS Library–what’s next?

About Historical & Special Collections: HSC is a small and energetic team within Harvard Law School Library engaged with all aspects of special collections work. Harvard Law School Library’s collection of historic legal materials is one of the largest in the world, and includes rare books, early manuscripts, visual materials, and modern manuscripts. As members of the Harvard Law School Library, team members contribute to the Law School’s mission by collecting and sharing our materials with the HLS community and with researchers worldwide. As active members of the large and thriving Harvard Library community, HSC staff collaborate with colleagues to share information, solve problems, and learn.

Photo credit: Justice Antonin Scalia’s HLS Year Book portrait, 1960. Justice Scalia graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1960. He worked at a large law firm, taught law at the University of Virginia, the University of Chicago, and Stanford; and held several administrative posts in the federal government. He served as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, before being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986. The collection includes material relating to all of these activities.

852 Rare: Feud in Wiltshire

This is the third in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor GoerssPforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us last summer to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts. Stay tuned for more of what you’ll find, often unexpectedly, in this collection.

 

Here’s what a fourteenth-century English feud looks like, pieced together from court manor records. Warning: it involves blood.

Great Wishford, Wiltshire, Folder 162, Membrane HH (June, 1374)

Great Wishford, Wiltshire, Folder 162, Membrane HH (June, 1374)

The first entry in the section of the roll pictured above says that Gonne Brighamton, “unjustly and against the peace, drew blood from Margaret Conperes” [Gonne Brighamton iniuste et contra pacem traxit sanguinem de Margareta] and was fined four pence for it. In the next entry Walter Conperes and his wife Margaret bring a complaint against Gonne Brighamton for trespassing, saying that “she assaulted the said Margaret, who was beaten and badly handled against the peace, to damages of 50 s.” Gonne was fined three pence.

But we quickly learn that Margaret was not exactly a passive victim. The next two entries say: first, Margaret drew blood from the Gonne, and second that Margaret was fined for trespassing against Gonne, beating her and handling her badly, also for damages of 50 shillings.

In other words, Margaret and Gonne settled their bloody fight in court, loudly letting everyone know about it while also paying out a total of fourteen pence to the lord. An out-of-court settlement would have been much cheaper; in fourteenth-century Wiltshire the going rate for a “license of concord,” or permission to let charges drop, was only two pence!

New website for Library Bicentennial Exhibit – Collections | Connections

The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce the launch of the companion website for its Bicentennial exhibit:

Exhibit logo

 

 

 

 

The website is arranged around the six themes of the exhibit: Keepers of MemoryPreserving Legal Heritage, Global Citizens, Promoting Justice, Supreme Court Clerks and Their Justices, and Library as Lab. It features items from the physical exhibit, as well as additional content from the Library’s collection of more than 2 million items.

Learn how the Library preserves the continuing story of the Harvard Law School community: faculty, students, alumni, and staff who are moved to question, prepared to reason, and called to act.

http://bit.ly/hls200exhibit

Explore (and watch!) the history of the Ames Moot Court Competition!

The Ames Moot Court competition has been around for over 100 years, and thanks to a lot of hard work from both HLS Library and HLS Communications staff you can now explore that 100+ year history online!

The Ames Moot Court Competition website contains a history of the competition, the judges who have participated over the decades, best oralist and best brief winners, and recordings of many of the competitions dating back to 1974. One of the most exciting outcomes of this project is exposing footage of U.S. Supreme Court justices speaking from the bench—something that we don’t normally have the privilege to experience unless we’re at the Supreme Court in person!

The video below features Deval Patrick (HLS ’82), the former Massachusetts governor who won best oralist that year (skip ahead to 1:23:40 in the video to see him speak!), and a young Howell Jackson (HLS ’82) when he was also a student here. Professor Jackson was on the opposing team, which won best overall brief. The judges that year were Hon. Henry J. Friendly (HLS ’27), U.S. Court of Appeals for The Second Circuit, whose papers are held by Historical & Special Collections; Hon. Patricia Wald, U.S. Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia Circuit; and Hon. Nathaniel Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for The Sixth Circuit.

852 Rare: How to Read a Manor Court Roll

This is the second in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor Goerss, Pforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us last summer to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts. Future topics include what you’ll find, sometimes unexpectedly, in them.

Having resolved to attempt to decipher a medieval court roll, where do you begin? Well, at the top.

English Manor Rolls, 1283-1765. Folder 8. Moulton (Multone), Norfolk. Harvard Law School Library. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

The first line tells you where and when the court occurred, what type of court it is, and sometimes the name of the Lord. For instance, the top line of this roll in HSC’s collection reads: Multone Curia ibidem tenta die Sabbati proximam post festum de Corpore XPI Anno regni Regis Edwardi tercii a conquestum XXIX, which is: Moulton, court held on the Saturday after the feast of Corpus Christi, in the 29th year of the reign of Edward III. So this session occurred early in June of 1355. Calculating a date that makes sense to us requires having some reference resources on hand that tell us the years of Edward III’s reign and what the Christian feast dates were for that year. Here’s an online resource for that.

Just below the heading appears the names of those tenants who have “essoined” themselves. This means they have opted out of coming to court by paying a fee and designating proxies in their stead.

Then the proceedings of the session are listed. Here is an example of what an entry looks like:

English Manor Rolls, 1283-1765. Folder 8. Moulton (Multone), Norfolk. Harvard Law School Library. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Item presentat quod Johannes Bateman fecit dampnum in frumento domini cum vi bobus [The jury presents that John Bateman did damage to the Lord’s grain with six oxen]…”

You might have noticed that the court scribes used a radically abbreviated mode of writing: frumento = frō and domini = dm̄. You will also notice that many entries begin with words such as, “The jury presents…” This “jury,” anywhere from ten to twenty-four men selected from the attendees of the court, both presented and decided the cases. Each fine (marked with an M for misericordia) is recorded in the left margin. In this case, the fine amounts to 2 s (pence) and 3 d (shillings).

If this seems a bit challenging, don’t panic! There are plenty of resources with which to tackle court rolls. Here’s one of our favorites:

Stuart, Denis. Manorial Records: An Introduction to Their Transcription and Translation. Chichester, Sussex: Phillimore, 1992.

Tenth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

Interested in rare books, legal history or legal archives?

The Legal History and Rare Books (LH&RB) Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the Tenth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

The competition is designed to encourage scholarship and to acquaint students with the AALL and law librarianship, and is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting.

Winning and runner-up entries will be invited to submit their entries to Unbound, the official journal of LH&RB. Past winning essays have gone on to be accepted by journals such as N.Y.U. Law Review, American Journal of Legal History, University of South Florida Law Review, William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities, and French Historical Review.

The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website. Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., April 16, 2018 (EDT).

852 RARE: Speak, Memory* – Law Student Study Aids, circa 1674

In our occasional series of posts about games in the HLS Library’s Historical & Special Collections, we’ve covered playing cards describing notorious trials and educational flash cards for students of civil law. With exams around the corner, it’s a good time to shine a light on mnemonic devices – centuries-old techniques that aid in learning and retaining information in memory.

We have a beautiful first edition of Johannes Buno’s (1617-1697) work, Memoriale Codicis Iustinianei (1674). It features elaborate fold-out engravings, each corresponding to one of the books in Justinian’s Codex. The Codex is part of the Corpus Juris Civilis, the codification of Roman law ordered early in the 6th century AD by Emperor Justinian I.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), p. 58. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), p. 58. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Buno, an educator and theologian, distilled this massive trove of Roman law into a brief 83-page study aid. Taken together, the summaries and the engravings helped students master the contents of the Codex by combining fables, images, and letters. Buno called this the “Emblematische Lehrmethode,” or “Emblematic Teaching Method.” Let’s give it a try.

Here is the engraving that helped students master Book 9 of the Codes, which covers criminal law and procedure.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

A detail from Buno’s distillation of the text, Title 9.1, “Those who may not accuse,” (Qui accusare non possunt”) is shown here.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Beginning text for Book 9.1, p.37. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Beginning text for Book 9.1, p.37. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Presumably, a glance at the corresponding image in the upper left of the engraving, shown in detail here, would jog a student’s memory.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, detail, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Johann Buno, Memoriale Codicis Justinianei (1674), Engraving for Book 9, detail, after p. 36. HOLLIS no. 4299003.

Or perhaps not. Things may have gotten lost in translation over time. At any rate, it is worth remembering that study aids for law students go back centuries, and that yesterday’s magnificently engraved book is today’s handwritten law student notebookelectronic casebook, or commercial outline. However you learn the law, good luck with your exams!

 

* with apologies to Vladimir Nabokov

 

 

 

 

 

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