Legal Research & Research Skills •

852 RARE: Of Butchers, Bakers, and Cordwainers

Among the appeals of older books and manuscripts are the fascinating glimpses they may provide into earlier times and their inhabitants. Recently a slim volume in a plain, nondescript binding crossed my desk. The title was in typically long eighteenth century style but straight-forward: A copy of the poll, taken the eighth day of September … 1780 at the Guildhall, in the Borough of New Windsor … at an election of two representatives to serve in the ensuing Parliament … . The poll in the title refers to a fifteen page alphabetical list of voters (only men, of course) and their occupations. This seemingly straightforward list provided an unexpected glimpse of life in a late eighteenth century English town, as well as a wealth of information about its residents.

TpThe town of New Windsor (now known simply as Windsor), 23 miles west of London, was a “free borough” and during the Middle Ages one of the fifty wealthiest English towns. After a period of decline it experienced a revival when George III began renovations to the castle there in the late 1770s. The town’s growth seems to be reflected in the 1780 poll, which shows a significant number of citizens in the construction trades: carpenters, bricklayers, glaziers, painters, and stone masons, among others. The list reveals that the town was sophisticated enough to support a perfumer (Robert Calley), a jeweler (John Snow) and a watchmaker (James Turlis) and had enough overnight visitors to keep at least four “innholders” in business. The poll also reveals broad class and economic divisions, listing several labourers, along with several gentlemen. Adcock

The occupation of the very first citizen—Thomas Adcock, staymaker— sounds delightfully archaic to a modern reader. Yet there were at least three of them in New Windsor in 1780. How many staymakers are there anywhere now? Or, how many coopers, horsebreakers, rabbit sellers, cordwainers, soap boilers, collar makers, peruke makers, or tripemen? How many of today’s occupations will sound delightfully quaint (or mystifying) 235 years from now?

 

 

 

On the other hand, most of the occupations in the list are recognizable, even if the vocabulary has changed, and show how the necessities of life were filled for New Windsor’s residents. HsThere were several victuallers, shopkeepers, shoemakers, higlers, “taylors”, and bakers, and at least two butchers, a cheese-monger, fishmonger, brewer,  a physician, an apothecary, tea dealer, and a milkman. Among the town’s inhabitants were at least five attorneys and a gaoler (jailer), as well as a number of family businesses: Joseph and William Cantrell (bakers) and Henry and William Coombs (ironmongers). Of course, death and taxes are always with us, as they were for the people of New Windsor, verified by the occupations of Edward Edwards (collector of excise) and Charles Jarman (taylor and undertaker).

This seemingly unremarkable 1780 poll list reminds us that such routine documents are anything but dull and may, in fact, be rich resources for historical and genealogical research.

Early English Manor Rolls Go Online

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce that we have begun a multi-year project to conserve and digitize our collection of English manor rolls. The rolls came to Harvard over a century ago, purchased in 1892 and 1893 by Harvard Professor William James Ashley (1860-1927) from London bookseller James Coleman. In 1925 the College Library transferred the collection to the Harvard Law School Library.

The manor roll collection consists of 170 court-rolls, account-rolls, and other documents from various manors, ranging in date from 1282 to 1770. The largest concentration comes from the manor of Moulton in Cheshire. Other manors represented are Odiham Hundred, Hampshire; Herstmonceaux, Sussex; Chartley, Staffordshire; and Onehouse, Suffolk. A limited number of materials in this collection are single-sheet charters and one item is a map of the manor of Shelly, Suffolk.

Manor roll 16A (2)

Detail of roll from Moulton, Cheshire 1518-1521 (Box 2, 16)

 

For a complete description of the collection, see the finding aid, which will change and grow as digital images of the rolls become available, and links to them, along with improved descriptions of the rolls will be added. We expect this primary resource will be of particular interest to legal and local historians, students of early modern English history, and genealogists, all of whom have already used the rolls in their research. We also hope that by putting the rolls online, they will reach a broader audience who may pursue research questions that have not previously encompassed the manor rolls. We welcome your suggestions for improved descriptions; email specialc@law.harvard.edu with your feedback.

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.

Finding Records That Are No Longer in PACER

As some of you may have already heard, PACER, the online repository for records and filings from U.S. Federal Courts, recently removed documents from five courts in preparation for an update to the system. Though efforts are underway by some private organizations to find a way to make these documents publicly available again, this has left many PACER users concerned about how to find these documents (which included records from some high profile cases) in the meantime. If you find yourself looking for these documents, there are a couple of approaches you can take.

First, all Harvard Law School students have access to Bloomberg Law, which offers a helpful docket search feature. While it does not include records for all cases, its easy search interface and the fact that new records are added all the time makes it a good first source. To search for a docket, login into Bloomberg Law and click Litigation & Dockets in the top menu. Then select Search Dockets from the resulting drop down menu.

If you don’t find the record you need in Bloomberg Law, you can also visit the RECAP Archive. This free database collects federal court documents that are gathered by the RECAP browser extension. (You might also consider installing the extension yourself; it is available for both Chrome and Firefox). While the archive does not include all court records, it is growing all the time, so it is a good starting point for items not on PACER or Bloomberg Law.

If you find that the records aren’t available electronically, we have collected information about how to request materials from each of the courts that had items removed from PACER below:

If you are looking for further information on how to find court records and briefs, you can also refer to our research guide on the topic.

CALI Unconference

We are currently hosting the 2014 CALI Conference for Law School Computing here at Harvard Law School.  Before the official conference started, several attendees met on Wednesday, 6/18, for an “Unconference.”

The Unconference agenda was completely attendee-driven: the participants selected topics and then broke off into small groups to discuss them.  Topics included:

  • Is “Law Practice Technology” Worth Teaching as Part of an Advanced Legal Research Course?
  • Flipped Classrooms
  • Building Virtual Communities
  • Polling Tools
  • How Do We Train Faculty to Understand When Multimedia Tools Are Adding Value, When They’re Just Wanting to be “Cool”?
  • What Tool has Really Helped a Colleague Teach and Didn’t Demand a Lot of Time?

Check out http://bit.ly/PreCALI for notes from the sessions.

Thank you to the attendees for some great discussions!

Check Out Our Latest Research Guides

The librarians at the Harvard Law School Library are always working to create new guides to help you with your research and technology needs and we have recently debuted several new guides:

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.

App of the Month: HeinOnline

Do you use HeinOnline all the time? Do you find yourself wishing that you could even access it on your commute? Have you ever been out and about and had a burning question that could only be answered by turning to the Pentagon Papers?

Ok, maybe not, but if you have ever wished you could turn your bus ride to school into productive time or if you ever wanted to look up one last thing as you rushed to class, you may be interested to know that HeinOnline has a mobile app! With their app, users can access all the same materials that they access through the full database on their iPhone or iPad (currently the app is only available for iOS devices). From the app, you can review the same full text PDF of the item that you would find on HeinOnline itself and you can download the document for later review.

Once you download the app, all you need to do is login for the first time while on the Harvard University IP range. After that, you will have access anywhere for 30 days before you will have to re-authenticate while on campus. HeinOnline offers a complete User Guide to help you get started with the app and if you run into any troubles, you can also always ask a librarian. Looking for more mobile app recommendations? Check out our guide to mobile apps!

This screenshot shows the app in action.

Check Out Our New Guide to the Law of the People’s Republic of China

If you are interested in the law of the People’s Republic of China, you are in luck! The library recently published our latest research guide, which covers many aspects of the law of the People’s Republic of China. This guide offers access to materials in both Chinese and in translation. It includes primary law and secondary resources and we plan to continue to update it with additional materials in the future. Whether you are already familiar with this area of research or if you are new to it, you will be sure to find helpful resources for your work.

Love Animals? Check out our new research guide on Animal Law!

 

Tookie - currently available for adoption through the ARL of Boston, and being fostered by Terri Saint-Amour, ARL Volunteer and Law Librarian

Tookie is available for adoption through the Animal Rescue League of Boston. He is being fostered by Terri Saint-Amour.

Just take a look at the sweet, adorable face to the left and fall in love. That’s what Terri Saint-Amour, law librarian at Harvard Law Library has done, by agreeing to foster him on behalf of the Animal Rescue League of Boston.  Being an avid animal lover and a volunteer with the Animal Rescue League, she decided to put together a legal research guide on Animal Law. Included in the guide are links to state and national organizations dedicated to advancing the law as it pertains to animals, as well as state and federal laws, international agreements, GAO reports and more! There are even a few cute videos in case you are a law student reading this post, and need some stress relief.

By the way, in case you have also fallen in love with the gorgeous cat known as Tookie, here’s more information about him, written by another volunteer from the Animal Rescue League.  If you ask any of her fellow reference colleagues, they’ll tell you how happy she is to talk about him, or any of the other animals she works with on a weekly basis. For more information on adopting an animal from the Animal Rescue League, please see their website, and Like them on Facebook! They have additional locations in Dedham, MA, and Brewster, MA.