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

In Remembrance

At the conclusion of World War II, the Harvard Law School faculty determined to build a memorial to the men lost in both the First and Second World War, and to actively preserve and display the intellectual treasures lost to the ravages of war throughout Europe. Located at the south end of our reading room in Langdell Hall, the Treasure Room would honor the loss of our Harvard Law School students and graduates. In July, 1947 plans for the Law Library’s Treasure Room were complete, with construction set to begin in September of that year. “The Treasure Room [was] dedicated to the memory of the [193] students and graduates of the Harvard Law School who gave their lives in World War I and World War II.” Harvard Law School Bulletin, October 1948.As you approach what is now the Caspersen Room, you will find, carved in yellow marble, the names of those 193 graduates who died in the Great War and in World War II.

To our knowledge, 198 students or graduates of the Harvard Law School have died in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan, while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Every time I visit the Caspersen Room, I pause in reflection of the sacrifice our students made to our country. And I wonder, who were they? What stories lie beneath this list of names?

I recently discovered the story of one of the graduates memorialized here in the Harvard Law School Library, and thought it fitting to share on this day of remembrance.

Edward L. Grant graduated from Harvard Law School in 1909 and played major league baseball both before and after he graduated. Known by his fellow players as “Harvard Eddie”, (he also graduated from the College in 1905), Eddie Grant made his major league debut on August 4, 1905 playing for the Cleveland Naps. In subsequent years, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies and ended his professional baseball career with the New York Giants. During his time in the majors, Eddie Grant played in 990 games, with 3385 at bats, 844 hits, 399 runs, 5 homeruns and 277 RBI. He appeared in two World Series games in 1913, playing for future Hall of Famer James McGraw. At the age of 32, on October 16, 1915, he played his last game with the New York Giant, retiring to devote more time to his law practice.

Two years after leaving baseball, Eddie Grant enlisted in the United States Army where he served as a captain in the 77th Infantry Division. Edward L. Grant died on October 5, 1918 while leading a unit of the 307th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division to the aid of the “Lost Battalion” in the Argonne Forest. In 1921, a memorial plaque in his honor was erected in center field of the Polo Grounds. A replica of the plaque was installed at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants in 2006. The plaque reads, in part, “Soldier – Scholar – Athlete”.

Edward L. Grant is buried in Plot A, Row 02, Grave 24 at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Lorraine, France.

His is but one of 198 stories depicted by a list of names on a wall in the Harvard Law School Library.  Today we honor all fallen soldiers, with particular sorrow for those of the Harvard Law School who made the ultimate sacrifice to their country. The next time you are in Cambridge, we invite you to visit the memorial dedicated to their memory.

On loan from the 1939 Baseball Centennial Collection of Stephen M. Kennedy. www.1939baseball.com

For more information on the creation of the Harvard Law School Treasure Room and memorial: https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:423365743$1i

https://iiif.lib.harvard.edu/manifests/view/drs:42973760$8i

For more information on Edward “Harvard Eddie” Grant:

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19858/edward-leslie-grant

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/granted01.shtml

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2018/10/05/major-league-baseball-player-died-battle-years-ago-today/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6272d70db02b

New Title Spotlight: “Testamente und Erbstreitigkeiten” (“Wills and Inheritance Disputes”)

The law library recently added a very interesting book to the collection:

Testamente und Erbstreitigkeiten: von Kriemhild bis Cornelius Gurlitt
Walter Zimmermann
2018, C.H. Beck
ISBN: 9783406730238

This book provides a historical survey of wills and inheritance disputes and includes transcriptions (in normal, readable font) of actual language from testamentary instruments.  Researchers who are interested in historical wills will especially enjoy this book, although it requires an ability to read German.  However, due to the book’s highly narrative and accessible style, an in-depth knowledge of German legal language is, in my opinion, not necessary.

The following subjects and people are described:

  • Testamentary distribution in the Song of the Nibelungs
  • Offmei Wöllerin, 1321 (a well-to-do widow from the town of Regensburg)
  • Heinrich Tuschl von Söldenau, 1376 (Bavarian nobleman and landowner)
  • Erasmus von Rotterdam, 1536 (famous scholar and humanist)
  • Martin Luther, 1542 (leader of the Protestant Reformation)
  • Laurentius von Ramee, 1613 (military commander whose will included a requirement that his successor marry his — Ramee’s — sister)
  • Neidhard Pfreimbder, 1662 (whose will precisely listed his property but did not name an heir)
  • Immanuel Kant, 1798 (philosopher)
  • Last will of Beethoven (drafted as an outrage-filled letter by the composer to his brother and nephew in 1802)
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1830 (author whose will specifically provided for his daughter-in-law)
  • Constanze Mozart, 1841 (widow of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  • Arthur Schopenhauer, 1852 (philosopher whose will included a provision to provide for his dog)
  • Fürstenhaus Leiningen, 1897 (in which the son in a royal family was disowned because the father did not approve of the son’s marriage)
  • Elisabeth, 1898 and Franz Joseph I., 1901 (Empress and Emperor of Austria and Queen and King of Hungary; she was known as “Sissi” and has been extensively portrayed in books and movies)
  • König Otto I von Bayern, 1916 (Bavarian king who suffered from severe mental illness)
  • Franz Kafka, 1922 (Polish author whose testamentary request that his works be destroyed was not followed)
  • Estate of the Wittelsbach Family, 1923 (describing an agreement under which property of displaced royalty was returned to state ownership)
  • Thurn and Taxis Library and Archive (protection of cultural assets of an entailed estate, or Fideikommiss)
  • Adolf Hitler, 1945, and Eva Braun, 1944 (leader of Germany’s National Socialist government, which carried out the murder of millions of people during World War II, and his companion)
  • Albert Einstein, 1950 (physicist; disputes surrounding his will led to the exposure of intimate details about his life)
  • Estate of the Krupp Family, 1966 (steel manufacturing family that used several testamentary devices to avoid paying inheritance taxes)
  • The Insect Collection of Georg Frey, 1976 (Frey’s widow ignored testamentary directives regarding who should have the first right to buy the collection and offered it for sale elsewhere)
  • The Estate of Axel Springer, 1984 (German publisher who had several marriages and children; the battle over his estate lasted 30 years)
  • The Willy-Brandt-Medal, 1992 (“Can a widow make money from her husband’s personality rights?”)
  • Donations for the Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche of Dresden, 1995 (If a donation unlawfully decreases someone’s compulsory right to inherit, must the donation be returned?)
  • A Sociologist’s Index Card Box, 1998 (the impact of “vagueness” in a will on the inheritance rights)
  • Cornelius Gurlitt’s Estate of Stolen Art, 2014 (Can a testamentary devise lawfully include ill-received property?)

Why Research Historical Wills and Probate Documents?

Old wills provide a fascinating window into how people in the past really lived. During the summer of 2005, as a research assistant to Pepperdine Law Professor Kris Knaplund, I spent many enjoyable hours in the Los Angeles County Probate Archives, reading and documenting wills and other probate records from 1893. 

Although the main objective of this research project was to better understand the effect of the 1861 California Married Women’s Property Act on women’s inheritance rights, the project provided an additional bonus.  We learned about people from all walks of life in late 1800s California, from successful landowners and wealthy widows, to lawyers, business owners, farmers, and (perhaps most surprisingly) shepherds who had immigrated from the Basque country to Los Angeles.  If you are interested in reading more about this project, check out Kris’s article, The Evolution of Women’s Rights in Inheritance, which was published in the Hastings Women’s Law Journal in 2008.

Are you curious about historical probate materials in the Harvard Library collections?  Here are a few HOLLIS library catalog searches that you can use to look for sources:

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