Killed by Overstudy: Don’t let this happen to you!

Killed by OverstudyNo doubt about it: law school is tough. According to one early 20th century newspaper account, the pressure to study could even be deadly. Here are a few things you can do at the HLS Library to fend off brain fever and make the time you do spend studying more effective:

  • Unwind by checking out a movie from our popular film collection, located behind the current magazines in the Lemann Lounge not far from the circulation desk. The collection highlights include the AFI 100 and many films and TV shows featuring lawyers and the legal system. It also includes lighter fare like The Big Lebowski and Legally Blonde–alas, the latter was not actually filmed on campus. DVDs circulate for 7 days.
  • Take a snack break in the Lemann Lounge, the only part of the library where eating is allowed. Really hungry? Order a pizza and have it delivered there. We know the temptation to eat while you study is strong, but chances are if you’ve been studying long enough that you’re hungry, it’s not a bad idea to also stretch your legs and clear your head for a bit. There have been a few studies indicating that breaks and rest help your brain process and make connections with new information.
  • Catch up with the news by checking out a Kindle at the circulation desk. One HLS Library Kindle contains newspapers (The Independent, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Le Monde, and International Herald Tribune) and the other is loaded with popular magazines. Kindles circulate in the building for three hours.
  • The comfiest spot to lounge in the library is in an over-sized beanbag on the bridge linking Langdell to the ILS stacks, long a favorite napping and Skyping spot.
  • And of course if you’re in danger of brain fever because legal research is getting you down, don’t struggle alone, ask a librarian!

Transcription of article:

Death of William Thornton Parker, Jr, a Student in Harvard Law School from Springfield

Yesterday afternoon William Thornton Parker, Jr, a third-year student in the Harvard Law School, died at the Cambridge Hospital, where he had been sick but a few days. Parker’s death was caused by an abscess on the brain, a result of overstudy. This time of year in the Law School during the final examinations is very hard and, in fact, the work is so hard that it is a wonder that many more do not break down. It was said some time ago that if the work in the Law School was not lessened at once several men would certainly be the victims of brain fever, and this turned out to be true in the case of Parker.

Mr Parker had been taking his final examinations, and had been working very hard. He was an exceptionally brilliant man, being an A man in the Law School, having graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1897, with the highest honors that the institution could confer on any man. He then came to Harvard and entered the Law School, where he began the study of law. He worked day and night over this subject and so it is no wonder that he finally broke down and went crazy.

Mr Parker’s home was in Springfield, Mass, where he was very well known.

Boston Journal, June 8, 1900, page 2

Thanks to Dave Warrington in HLSL’s Historical & Special Collections Unit for finding this obituary!

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