Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce the opening of its newest exhibit, Deep Cuts: The B-Side of Historical & Special Collections. The exhibit steps away from the collection’s “A-side,” the popular items people expect to find and instead focuses on lesser known parts of the collection that include some bizarre finds and hidden gems.
One of those hidden gems is a unique photograph of Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo (1870-1938). Cardozo began his career in private practice after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1890. In 1914 he was elected to the New York Supreme Court where he served as an associate justice until 1917. He was then appointed to the New York State Court of Appeals where he served from 1917 to 1932, serving as chief judge from 1926-1932. President Hoover appointed Cardozo to the United States Supreme Court on February 15, 1932, to a seat vacated by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 24, 1932, and received commission on March 2, 1932. He served as associate justice until his death in 1938.
In 1997, Professor Andrew L. Kaufman gave Historical & Special Collections material he collected and created during the research for his book, Cardozo (1998). Included in the gift was a small collection of photographs he had amassed over the years—including this very unique item. Having never seen anything like it before, we brought the print to the attention of photograph conservators at the Weissman Preservation Center of Harvard Library. It was a mystery to them as well! After researching the process they were able to determine that the photographic object is a sculptograph. Creating a sculptograph is a complex process that involves adhering a photographic image onto a secondary support, usually made of metal, essentially turning a two-dimensional photograph into a three-dimensional bas-relief. Although various techniques for creating photographs with bas-relief surfaces were patented during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sculptographs are rare and few historical publications or technical analyses regarding the process exist. This example is especially notable because instead of a metal support it has a molded, plaster relief.
The photograph was loaned in 2002 to the American Sephardi Federation in New York for a Cardozo exhibit. As far as we know, this is the first time in 14 years it is being displayed, and possibly the first time at Harvard.
We are thankful to our colleagues at the Weissman Preservation Center of Harvard Library who took the still images they captured using RTI imaging (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) to create a movie that offers a three-dimensional viewing experience.
The exhibit was curated by HSC staff: Karen Beck, Jessica Farrell, Jane Kelly, Edwin Moloy, Mary Person, and Lesley Schoenfeld. It will be on view in the Caspersen Room, Harvard Law School Library 4th floor, daily 9am-5pm through March 2017.
For those unable to make it to the physical exhibit, we invite you to a view a selection of exhibit images online at bit.ly/HSCexhibit. We have also included the recently reformatted recordings of a rare 1957 vinyl record, James Garrett Wallace Sings of the Law and Lawyers, side 1 & side 2 and a 1979 U-matic videocassette titled Langdell Legends featuring numerous HLS professors, because it wouldn’t be fair to display them without letting people fully enjoy these B-side gems!