History • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Evidence in Ink

One of the pleasures of cataloging, especially of older books and manuscripts, is coming across unexpected traces of earlier times and lives. Scraps of an early manuscript liturgy or an almanac used in a binding; a series of former owners’ signatures vying for attention on a title page; enigmatic annotations in the margins; or even an eighteenth century butcher’s invoice used as a bookmark. All these are examples of evidence of the unique history contained in any single book or manuscript.

But a copy of at least one early canon law book in the collection—an exhaustive work on the Decretales of Pope Gregory IX printed in 1487-1488—bears evidence of a moment before it was even printed.  It also documents, perhaps, the momentary inattention of a worker in the busy Basel print shop of Johannes Amerbach.  Appearing at the bottom right corner of a page in part 1 is the unmistakable smudge of a fifteenth century ink ball.

Detail from part 1, leaf 2b3r of Niccolò,de’ Tudeschi’s Lectura super V libris Decretalium (Basel, Johannes Amerbach, 1488), copy 1 (Ad T256l 488 H12315), Harvard Law School Library.

In the era of hand-operated printing presses leather ink balls, stuffed with wool and attached to a handle, were used to evenly ink the plates prior to printing. It was hard, repetitive work.

By Jost Amman – “Eygentliche Beschreibung aller Stände auff Erden, hoher und nidriger, geistlicher und weltlicher, aller Künsten, Handwercken und Händeln …”, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=207246

Of course, having an ink ball come in contact with paper was not standard procedure. Surely it must have been noticed at some point in the printing process. Perhaps the paper was too costly to discard or the pressure to move the job along was too strong. But whatever the reason, we now have a visible reminder of hand press era technology and a moment of distraction almost 530 years ago.

Archiving Student Life: HLS Community Capture Project

This past semester, Historical & Special Collections (HSC) continued its efforts to collect material documenting student life at HLS. These efforts began in Spring 2016 and our commitment to the project has increased since then, thanks in large part to a Harvard Library S.T. Lee Innovation Grant. Student organizations are a vital part of the HLS community and we hope to capture and preserve as much as we can to help document the impact students have on HLS and support your work!

HSC currently holds only a few student organizations’ records, along with a variety of student organization newsletters and event flyers. In order to capture today’s campus activities, we need to think more broadly about collecting student-created material. Today, that broad mindset involves grappling with the vulnerability of digital material. Building relationships with both individuals and the organizations (that means you!) that create digital content is urgent if we hope to help preserve this material for the future.

Harvard Law School Women's History Month calendar, March 1994, HLS Ephemera Collection, box 4, folder 6

Women’s Law Association (WLA) Women’s History Month calendar, March 1994, HLS Ephemera Collection, Box 4, Folder 6

With funding made possible by the S.T. Lee Innovation Grants, Historical & Special Collections is investigating better methods for collecting born digital material from student organizations through the HLS Community Capture Project. A part-time project assistant started working with us in March of this year, which has enabled us to offer flexible meeting times with student organization leaders outside of the traditional 9 to 5. So far, we have talked to close to 30 student leaders about preserving student organization material and have created a LibGuide that brings together much of our existing student-created content. [Read More]

Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies

HeinOnline has a new product that will interest anyone–law students and faculty, historians, political scientists–researching presidential commissions or the catastrophes, crises, and issues they have investigated.

Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies comprises an extensive listing of presidential advisory bodies from Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama. Content includes more than 6000 database entries, 1200 links to full text documents, and cover hundreds of subjects including AIDS, bioethics, chemical warfare, immigration, nuclear weapons, and many more. Documents in the collection include congressional hearings, books, scholarly articles, and links to external content.

The database will be updated at least twice a year to add new commissions as well as newly discovered documents from past administrations.

Highlights of commissions included in the collection include:

  • President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Warren Commission)
  • President’s Commission on Campus Unrest
  • Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
  • Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident
  • Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (Iraq Intelligence Commission)
  • National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission)
  • National Commission on the BP Deepwater

You can search the collection by keywords, president, commission subject, commission/author, and report title, as well as browse by president, commission name, commission subject, and report title.

For more information about using Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies, please check out the HeinOnline blog post or Ask a Librarian–we’ll be happy to help you get started on your research.

852 RARE: New Exhibit — Kids in the Collection: Prison, Work, and Play

Most of the material in Historical & Special Collections is rooted in the world of adults, but children do make appearances, sometimes in unexpected ways. There are traces of the childhood experiences in HLS faculty papers, school report cards, and letters sent home from camp.

A young Paul Freund wearing a baker’s costume, 1911
Photograph postcard, 13.7 x 8.7 cm
Paul Freund Visual Materials, ca. 1911-1988
Record ID: olvwork368707

Not all is light-hearted, however, as seen in grim broadsides detailing violent crimes where children were the victims; sobering reports of the inner workings of a Massachusetts reform school; and images of toddlers raised in prison by their incarcerated mothers in nineteenth century England. Also showcased is some of the work undertaken by HLS students and faculty on behalf of children and families in Massachusetts and across the United States. The exhibit draws on a variety of media: manuscript collections, printed works, photographs, and children’s art work, dating from the late-eighteenth century through the twentieth century.

Image from The criminal prisons of London and scenes of prison life, by Henry Mayhew and John Binny (London, 1862)

This exhibit was curated by Jane Kelly and Mary Person of Historical & Special Collections. It will be on view in the Caspersen Room from April through July 2017 with online addenda at bit.ly/HSCexhibit.

852 RARE: Learned Hand’s Tailor

Billings Learned Hand (1872-1961): Distinguished alumnus of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Chief Judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the twentieth century’s most noted jurists …

… and a secret fashionista.

The Harvard Law School Library’s Historical & Special Collections has the papers of Judge Hand. One of our most heavily used collections, it contains a trove of information about law, lawyers, and life in its hundreds of boxes encompassing some 120 feet of material. You might expect to encounter correspondence from famous lawyers, judges, and politicians; legal opinions; and records of Judge Hand’s professional and social activities: it’s all there. But tucked away in Box 57 are three folders of correspondence between him and the staff of Alfred Webb Miles, custom tailors doing business at 12 Brook Street near Savile Row and Hanover Square in the heart of London.

Alfred Webb Miles Trade Card

Alfred Webb Miles & Co. Trade and Measurements Card, Learned Hand Papers, HOLLIS 601605, Box 57, folder 39.

Folder 39 reveals an engaged correspondence from a man who took his tailoring seriously. In these days of fast fashion and online shopping delivered overnight, it’s instructive to learn how men of a particular professional and social class bought their clothes. In response to a 1934 request from Judge Hand, Alfred Webb Miles sent a booklet of styles and several fabric swatches suitable for “light summer woolen suits.”

AWM Fashion Book

Alfred Webb Miles Fashion Book (undated; ca. 1934)

Judge Hand circled model number 2, a straight, single-breasted style, and marked three swatches as his choices number 1, 2, and 3.

AWM Suit Selections

Alfred Webb Miles Suit Selections (ca. 1934)

His chosen fabric is a fine black and white weave with a dashing streak of electric blue running through it:

Fabric Swatch

Learned Hand’s number 1 fabric choice (ca. 1934)

When placing his order in a letter dated May 21, 1934, the 62-year-old judge had, shall we say, a few requests: “The trousers are to be made with cuffs, a straight back, two hip pockets and a small front pocket on the right side of the band; suspender buttons on the outside, but loops for a belt. In the jacket, a ticket pocket inside the right hand side pocket, and two inside breast pockets, as well as one outside.”

Initial Order

Learned Hand’s Initial Order to Alfred Webb Miles & Co., May 21, 1934

Invoice

Alfred Webb Miles Invoice to Learned Hand, June 15, 1934

Sadly, the relationship soured soon thereafter. Hand wrote in a letter dated 1935 (not shown) that a recent suit had arrived with the chest and armholes cut too tightly. He directed the tailors to take note of his measurements on file and cut the next suit jacket with more room.

It was not to be. In a letter dated June 1, 1936, Judge Hand ended his 25-year relationship with Alfred Webb Miles & Co.: “… I particularly asked you this time to give me more room under the arms and to make the coat larger around the chest. Your cutter has apparently paid no attention whatever to these instructions. … There is of course no inducement to have any more made if my orders cannot be better observed.”

Complaint Letter

Letter of complaint from Learned Hand to Alfred Webb Miles & Co., June 1, 1936

While the parties exchanged a couple more cordial letters, it appears that Judge Hand never bought another suit from Alfred Webb Miles & Co. Other folders in the collection show that he did business with London tailors Meyer & Mortimer from 1925-1938, and again from 1941-1951.

This is the fun of archival research: you never know what the next unexpected detour will be. We hope you visit Historical & Special Collections or another archive, and see what hidden treasures you discover!

852 RARE: Guest Blog – Molding the Legal Mind: The Notebooks of Harvard Law Students

Many of us would shudder to imagine a researcher 100 years from now poring over our college lecture notes, scribbled in spiral-bound notebooks or, more likely, typed up in hundreds of sporadically organized .docx files. Historical & Special Collections at the Harvard Law School Library has been doing just that, cataloging a collection of over 250 students’ class notebooks amounting to hundreds of volumes. Dating from approximately 1860 to 1970, the collection represents an era that encompassed some of the most formative decades of the Law School’s curriculum and reputation. The Class Notes Collection, now fully cataloged for the first time, should be of great interest to anyone working on legal history, legal education, or the history of Harvard Law School itself.

View of spines of volumes of class notes.

Miscellaneous class notes volumes

Page of class notes in black and red ink taken during lectures on trusts

Page from the class notes of Eliot Harlow Robinson taken from lectures on trusts given at the Harvard Law School by James Barr Ames, 1907-1908
HOLLIS 14778115

The bulk of the collection takes the form of neatly homogeneous, crimson-leather-bound notebooks purchased from the Harvard Coop and inscribed on the inner cover with students’ names, local addresses, and desk numbers. “Louis L. Jaffe, 3 Perkins Hall,” one notebook reads. “3L, 1927-28. Property.” Many of the students’ names sound antiquated and (to this author’s ear) aristocratic; with a single exception, all are male. Case law is written on transparent onionskin sheets the size and shape of Post-Its and pasted in on top of lecture notes; red ink is typically used to underline and summarize key arguments in the margins. One gets the impression of a disciplined and uniform method of note-taking, taught from an early age, which gradually fell away after the Second World War and was abandoned as standard practice by the 1960s.

 

 

 

Detail of page of handwritten notes in blue and red ink. At the top of the page is written "Wolf vs the American Trust and Savings Bank

Detail of a page of class notes of Paul Cleveland
taken during the second year course “Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes” taught by Morton Campbell, 1931-1932
HOLLIS 14453392

While the notebooks have the outward appearance of uniformity, within, they attest to rich personal histories. Exam prompts, holiday cards, and even the occasional love letter are tucked between their pages. Current law students may find comfort in the near ubiquity of question marks and crossed-out phrases (as well as large splotches of ink). Some are covered in doodles, caricatures, and exhortations (“To hell with Beale!” writes Chauncey Craven Hackett (LL.B. 1906) in his 1905 notes on Equity, taught by Beale), while others suggest great discipline and organization, such as the tidy script and thorough indexing of future HLS professor Austin Wakeman Scott (1884-1981). Many of the notebooks were donated to the library by graduates’ children and grandchildren, and some have been carefully typed up and bound in display volumes. Notable legal minds represented in this collection include Zechariah Chafee (1885-1957), E. Merrick Dodd (1888-1951), Felix Frankfurter (1882-1965), Paul Freund (1908-1992), and David Charny (1955-2000). Their class notes provide valuable and perhaps otherwise inaccessible windows into their formative years as students and thinkers.

Open volume of handwritten notes in blue and black ink. On the right side is printed advertisement from Burke & Co. Tailors

Detail of a page of class notes of Manley Ottmer Hudson, 1907-1910
HOLLIS 2004707

The collection should also be very useful to the study of legal curriculum and its development across the twentieth century. While the 1L course load of Torts, Contracts, and Criminal Law has remained largely unchanged since the nineteenth century, a proliferation of electives can be observed beginning in the 1960s, yielding Soviet Law, Antitrust Law, Psychoanalytic Theory and Legal Assumptions, even a class taught by Henry Kissinger on National Security Policy in 1967. From this collection one can learn how Justice Stephen Breyer taught his class on Antitrust Law, or how Derek Bok taught Economic Regulation, through the eyes of their students. The pressures of US history are also apparent, from the cluster of deaths, withdrawals, and hastily rearranged course schedules during World War II, to notes on segregation, the KKK, and Communism in the 1940s and 1950s.

Detail of handwritten page of notes at top of page is written "Commentaries on the Laws of England Book 2nd"

Detail of a page of class notes of John Willard Bickford, 1864-1865
HOLLIS 2594561
Bickford was from Hillsborough, New Hampshire. He entered Harvard Law School in 1865 but his career was ended when he drowned in the Charles River on June 26, 1866.

It is the otherwise anonymous, little-heard voices of HLS students across the years that form the bulk of the collection—studying for their exams, trying to remember their locker codes, and forging the opinions that have shaped legal discourse across the last two centuries. We encourage students, faculty, and researchers to come see for themselves what has changed—and what has remained the same—about the studying and teaching of law at Harvard since the late nineteenth century.

Georgia Henley is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University, finishing a dissertation on the transmission of historical texts and manuscripts between England and Wales in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. She works part-time in Historical & Special Collections at the Harvard Law School Library.

Note: For now, the easiest way to see the entire collection is in HOLLIS Classic. Under search type select “Other call number” and search for “Class Notes Collection”.

What’s new on HeinOnline?

HeinOnlineLogoIf you use HeinOnline, you’re probably well aware of its comprehensive Law Journal Library and U.S. Congressional Documents, but there’s so much more. Here are highlights of new databases and other content that Hein added and updated in 2016.

HeinOnline is available to everyone at Harvard, not just HLS, so if you’re researching history, government, and related topics these resources are accessible to you too!

Note: descriptions of resources come from HeinOnline and have been lightly edited

National Survey of State Laws 7th Edition & Database
The new edition and database version of National Survey of State Laws provides an overall view of some of the most sought-after and controversial legal topics in the United States. The book and database are presented in chart format, allowing users to make state-by-state comparisons of current state laws. Additionally, database enables users to compare laws among specified states and previous editions. This database will be updated at least twice annually, ensuring up-to-date and accurate information.

UNC Press Law Publications
In May, HeinOnline reached an agreement with the University of North Carolina (UNC) Press to include nearly 150 law-related publications both within their own unique database and throughout existing collections. UNC Press was the first university press in the South and it has earned national and international recognition for excellence in publishing. The collection, which became available in September, includes both current and historical titles, with many available as full-color, image-based PDFs.

Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law
This significant collection brings together a wealth of legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world, including every statute passed by every state and colony, all federal statutes, all reported state and federal cases, and hundreds of books and pamphlets on this subject. The collection will continue to grow and now contains nearly 1,200 titles and 870,000 pages, including the prestigious Judicial Cases concerning American Slavery and the Negro by Helen Tunnicliff Catterall. Tools unique to this database include a Slavery Quick Finder, which enables users to select publications based on their position on slavery, document type, jurisdiction, and topic. These categorizations also apply to searching, so it’s simple to refine search results using facets. HeinOnline offered free global access to this brand-new resource.

Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases
The ABA’s Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases provides comprehensive expert analysis of all cases argued before the United States Supreme Court, is now available online exclusively via HeinOnline’s fully searchable, user-friendly platform. Released in October, this database includes complete archives as well as the most current material. In addition, the database version of this title features a case locator tool, access to exact replicas of original case briefs, full print transcripts of cases, links to audio transcripts via Oyez, and citation and summary information for each case.

Provincial Statutes of Canada
This new collection includes nearly 100 titles and 1,500 volumes of public and private acts passed by Canadian provincial governments. Current, revised, and historical coverage is available for Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Revised and historical material only (material not under Crown Copyright) is available for Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

Brennan Center for Justice Publications at NYU School of Law
Publications from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice were made available in October. The Brennan Center is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve the systems of democracy and justice in the United States. The Center’s work focuses on a wide range of issues, including voting rights, campaign finance reform, racial justice in criminal law, and constitutional protections in the fight against terrorism. The Center considers itself to be a think tank, public interest law firm, advocacy group, and communications hub. Its law and policy scholarship addresses many issues, is largely written by attorneys, and is extensively peer-reviewed by both scholars and legal practitioners.

Other notable additions

  • 50 legal dictionaries from Georgetown’s prestigious collection are in the process of being added to Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf. To date, this collection contains more than 250 legal dictionaries.
  • Buddhism, Law & Society, a new journal published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc., is the first interdisciplinary academic journal to focus on the relationship between Buddhism and the legal world. Buddhism and its many social and legal manifestations are a central area of interest for the journal, as are the state’s legal relations to Buddhist actors, institutions and texts
  • The New York State Comptroller Opinions archive was completed, so coverage of this title is now from inception to current
  • Historical Martindale-Hubbell Law Directories
  • 117 new journals. There are now 2,343 journals in the Law Journal Library, all available back to inception
  • 1,209 new legal classics, for a total of 7,970 titles in this collection
  • 20,128 congressional documents. There are now 51,465 hearings, 20,894 CRS reports, and 5,013 Committee Prints in addition to complete coverage of the Congressional Record and its predecessor volumes
  • 125 new compiled legislative histories to the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library
  • 75 new titles and more than 1.4 million pages to State Reports: A Historical Archive

Want more help with HeinOnline or other HLS Library resources? Contact us or schedule a research consultation!

852 RARE: Of Elks, Magicians, and Stone Cutters

Alexis de Tocqueville famously wrote that “Americans of all ages, all stations of life and all types of disposition are forever forming associations …” and a little known but intriguing collection here in Historical & Special Collections demonstrates just that.  It consists of constitutions and by-laws of a wide variety of American organizations, dating from the early nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.  The majority were part of a gift from the private collection of Roger Stoddard, former Curator of Rare Books at Houghton Library. From The Constitution of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (printed in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1803) to the New programme and new constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (Drafts for discussion) (Chicago, 1980) these pamphlets encompass nearly 200 years of American social, religious, trade, and political history.

fanned-ii

They include organizations as diverse as the Charlestown Association for the Reformation of Morals (of Charlestown, Mass.) whose object as stated in its 1813 pamphlet was to “discountenance and suppress vice and wickedness generally, and to promote Christian virtue and morality … especially in the youth,” to the 1886 Constitution and by-laws of the Burlington Coasting Club of Burlington, VT,  whose object was “the encouragement and promotion of out door winter sports, such as Coasting, Toboggan Sliding, Snow-Shoeing, Ice Skating and Curling.”  Many of the pamphlets— such as By-laws of the Joint Association of Stone Cutters and Quarry Men (1888), and Constitution & by-laws of the Lynn & Boston R.R. Mutual Aid Association (1886)—were for associations that were precursors of modern workplace unions.

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This is a somewhat hidden collection as catalog records for these rare and ephemeral pamphlets are often preliminary and brief, but the collection is open for research and we encourage you to explore it. These seemingly dry organizational documents actually provide fascinating snapshots of different times and places in American history. You can search this collection by doing a “Other call number “ search in HOLLIS Classic using the term “Constitutions and By-laws”.

fanned-iii

852 RARE: Games People Play*

Believe it or not, Historical & Special Collections is home to some law-related games, including playing cards and materials created to help students learn the law. This set of educational cards, published in Halle, Germany in 1709, was intended to teach students civil law.

Civil Law Playing Cards

Chartae Iusoriae Juridicae (Halle, 1709), HOLLIS 3706209.

Our set consists of 34 cards, numbered 2 through 35. Each card contains several principles of civil law, written in Latin. The principles are numbered 5 through 194. It’s too bad the first card is missing from our set! Each card has been backed with marbled paper, and the whole set fits into a papier mâché box, also covered with marbled paper.

Case and Playing Cards

Case and Playing Cards, HOLLIS 3706209.

There is an eight-page instruction booklet, written in German, bound into marbled paper wrappers that match the playing cards. Students could use the cards as simple flash cards for self-study, or gather with a group of fellow students for a scintillating round of play. Here are a few excerpts from the instructions, translated by Jennifer Allison, an HLSL Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian:

  1. Those who would like to familiarize themselves with these laws and repeat them at will / must start by learning the first law on a card / tam quoad numerum, quam quoad sensum, and discuss it with their fellow players / who do the same thing.
  2. Once this has happened / they both, or also four, five, and six [people] could … / sit together / shuffle the cards / and deal them out to each player.
  3. At this point, the person who received the first card starts / by asking his neighbor a question about one of the cards in his hand e.g. ex fol 8. An possessor rerum immobilium satisdare teneatur? If this person answers / quod sic; he has answered incorrectly and must take the card / and must read … out loud from it / so that the other players, ex auditu, can be informed of the law. …
Instruction Booklet

Instruction Booklet, HOLLIS 3706209.

Let’s hope they were drinking lots of beer. Nevertheless, it’s a good reminder that legal study aids – and the market for them – have been around for a long time. Good luck in your law school studies, whichever study method you choose!

*with apologies to Eric Berne

852 RARE Bonus Edition: The 25th Anniversary of Cohen v. Cowles Media

June 24, 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Cohen v. Cowles Media Co., 501 U.S. 663 (1991), in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided that freedom of the press does not exempt journalists from following generally applicable laws. Dan Cohen (HLS ’61), a Republican campaign associate in the 1982 Minnesota governor’s race, gave information about another party’s candidate to reporters at two local newspapers. Though Cohen had received a promise of confidentiality from the reporters, the papers divulged his name. Cohen lost his job and sued the papers in state court, alleging breach of contract. Cohen won at trial and on appeal, but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed. Cohen appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The question before the Court was: Does the First Amendment bar a plaintiff from recovering damages, under state promissory estoppel law, for a newspaper’s breach of a promise of confidentiality? In a close 5-4 decision with two dissents, the Court ruled in favor of Mr. Cohen.

Cohen v. Cowles Media has been the subject of much debate and legal analysis in the past 25 years. It stands with New York Times v. Sullivan and a handful of others as a significant first amendment case involving the press.

Interested in learning more about what went on behind the scenes of this important case? Historical & Special Collections has the case files! Donated by Cohen’s attorney Elliot C. Rothenberg (HLS ’64), the collection consists of materials Mr. Rothenberg compiled and used in Cohen’s defense. HSC has many collections of case files, lawyers’ papers, and judges’ papers. If you are interested in a particular legal case, lawyer, or judge, search HOLLIS+ , the Harvard Library catalog.

HLS Class Marshal Elliot C. Rothenberg ('64). VIA record ID 8000950463

HLS Class Marshal Elliot C. Rothenberg (’64). VIA record ID 8000950463

We’re grateful to Mr. Rothenberg for sharing his collection with us, so we can share it with you. And his generosity does not end there: over the years, he has donated a number of HLS-related papers and artifacts to HSC, including the very baton he wielded as the Law School’s 1964 Class Marshal! Both baton and photo are on view through August 12, 2016 in the “academic regalia” section of the Library’s exhibit, What (Not) to Wear: Fashion and the Law.

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