Series: 852 RARE • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

852 RARE: Serving Up a Sampling of Plates

Inspired by the array of objects in this drawer, I wanted to highlight some of the plates we have in Historical & Special Collections for this installment of 852 RARE. They come in a variety of materials and sizes and are from a number of different collections. Each has an interesting story to tell. I hope you enjoy this small sampling of plates!

Some of the plates in Historical & Special Collections, Harvard Law School Library

Campus Plates

Langdell Hall commemorative plate (blue), 1927
Wedgwood, Etruria England
22 cm Queensware plate
Accession no. 2017.19

This is one of two Wedgwood plates in the collection depicting Langdell Hall, the other copy is red and was issued in 1932. The 1927 set was the first set of college plates that Wedgwood issued. The set included 12 views of Harvard University with a fruit and flower border that according to one collector was based on a design used on Harvard dining hall china c.1840.

Dane Hall commemorative plate (red), 1952
Wedgwood of Etruria & Barlaston, England
26.5 cm Queensware plate
Accession no. 2005.02.1

This is one of two Wedgwood plates in the collection depicting Dane Hall ca.1852; the other copy is in blue. According to the stamp on the back, this is a limited edition plate made in England exclusively for the Harvard Cooperative Society. Wedgwood issued this as part of set of 12 dinner plates that featured images of Harvard in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. See our copy of the lithograph this image is based on olvwork364043

Walter Hastings Hall plate, Accession no. 2017.70

Walter Hastings Hall Commemorative plate, early 20th century?
Made in Germany
12 cm ceramic plate
Accession no. 2017.70

This small white decorative plate with gold edges and a color image of Walter Hastings Hall in the center was a gift of Anne Elizabeth Bishop “in Loving Memory of My Father, Dr. Orvel Calhoun Crowder, S.T.B. 1957 Harvard Divinity School and my Great Grandfather Dr. Hall Laurie Calhoun, M.A. 1903, Ph.D. 1904, Harvard.” Hastings Hall was completed in 1889 as a Harvard University dormitory. Law students have been living there since at least 1924—it is the oldest residence hall at the Harvard Law School and currently houses 97 students.

Student Plates

Melamine plate, black background, head and shoulder view of John G. Roberts.

Learned Handmade Plates, 2008
José Klein ’08
10-inch melamine plates
Accession no. 2008.01.1-31

Klein designed 31 melamine plates depicting Supreme Court justices, as well famous law school cases in order to fulfill his Harvard Law School written work requirement. For a period of time, Klein sold copies of the set to collectors via his personal website, which is how Historical & Special Collections came to acquire its set.

“As a collection, the Learned Handmade Plates represent an album of the American Law School Experience. The plates are snapshots from the core of law as it is taught. Most law students have been expected to memorize most of the cases depicted here. They have been evaluated on the basis of how well they can reproduce the information these cases contain. . . . The Supremes on the other hand, remain. They have established permanent settlements in the imagination of the American Law Student. They are fetish objects, things to be held in adulation and contempt, to be stared into but never penetrated. In this sense, the Supremes are oracles. . . . The plates ask the eater/viewer to engage with the law as it is made by judges. They turn the act of eating into an act of civic engagement.”


The Record, April 24, 2008, Volume 126, no. 12

“The plates ask the eater/viewer to engage with the law as it is made by judges. They turn the act of eating into an act of civic engagement.”


José Klein, The Record

Faculty Plates

Black-patterned Chinese plate, 1948
13.75 in. bronze enameled plate
Roscoe Pound Visual Materials Collection
Engraving: “Roscoe Pound / Given By The / Chinese National Government / 1948.”

Underside of bronze enameled plate. center of the bottom has an engraved message in Chinese and in English: “Roscoe Pound / Given By The / Chinese National Government / 1948.”
Underside of the bronze plate given to Roscoe Pound

Among our collection of Roscoe Pound visual materials is a bronze enameled plate given to him by the Chinese National Government in 1948. Pound served as dean of the Harvard Law School for twenty years (1916-1936) and in the 1940s served as an advisor to the Ministry of Justice in Nanking, China. The visual materials collection also includes photographs of Pound in China, including this photograph of Pound posing with members of the Hebei Court, Beiping, China.

Judge Baker Guidance Center plate, 1971?
Lunt Sterling
28 cm sterling silver plate
Eleanor T. (Eleanor Touroff) and Sheldon Glueck Visual Materials, Accession no. 1970.01.4
Engraving: “Eleanor Glueck / IN APPRECIATION OF / 40 YRS SERVICE / TO / THE JUDGE BAKER GUIDANCE CENTER”

Eleanor Glueck (1898-1972) and her husband, Sheldon spent their careers studying and writing about issues related to juvenile delinquency. In 1934 they published One Thousand Juvenile Delinquents: Their Treatment by Court and Clinic, a study of delinquents referred by the Boston juvenile court to the Judge Baker Guidance Center (JBGC). The JBGC (formerly known as the Judge Baker Foundation) was founded in 1917 “as a charitable and educational institution for the guidance of emotionally disturbed children.” Its work included community education, research, and training, eventually becoming the home of an organized program of training and research in child development. Eleanor served as trustee at the JBGC from 1932 until her death in 1972.

Golden Plate Award, 1967
American Academy of Achievement
Framed ceramic plate and metal plaque
Diplomas, honorary degrees, citations and awards of persons affiliated with Harvard Law School. 1834-, HOLLIS 990094615880203941

View of golden plate mounted on red velvet background with metal plate mounted on red velvet background in gold frame.
Paul Freund’s Golden Plate award

We have a number of commemorative plates given to Professor Paul Freund (1908-1992) over the years. The Golden Plate Award has been presented since 1961 by the American Academy of Achievement, a nonprofit foundation, founded by Brian Blaine Reynolds to “bring aspiring young people together with real-life heroes. . .” In 1967, Freund was honored in connection with his constitutional law scholarship. Printed on the plate: “American / Academy of Achievement / Prof. Paul A. Freund.”  Learned Hand, another Harvard Law School alumnus, was also a recipient in the 1960s.

852 RARE: When the French Revolution was a Current Event

A recent Harvard Law School Library project—undertaken in preparation for the renovation and re-purposing of the Lewis building—resulted in a spreadsheet of hundreds of older titles for me to sift through, verify, and (often) catalog.  While the list is daunting it has led to a trove of fascinating books and pamphlets all of them are intriguing to anyone who appreciates primary materials.

I’ve particularly enjoyed working with copies of the French constitution in its various iterations, published in 1791, 1793, and 1795. Some are elegantly bound; others are still in their original paper wrappers.

A particularly lovely specimen of the former is this 1791 constitution, not even 10 cm (4 inches) tall, bound in green in morocco with marbled pastedowns, gold-tooled spines, and gilt edges. The frontispiece showing the King Louis XVI accepting the constitution, which established a constitutional monarchy.  Folded in towards the end of this pocket-size volume is a map of France.

An edition of the same constitution, printed in the provincial city of Le Puy in south central France, is in its original cheap (and wonderfully tactile) paper wrapper with the bookseller’s simple title and date (14 septiembre 1791) in manuscript and pages untrimmed.

Naturally events in France and its constitutions were of great interest beyond France, and a number of titles in the collection–such as these two–reflect that:

Detail of title page of London edition of the constitution published in Year I of the French republication calendar (1793).

 

Landau edition of the Year III constitution (1795), with manuscript note on title page: “5 Fructidor III” (i.e. 24. August 1795). Text is in French and German on facing pages.

 

 

Listening to the Law – the Neil Chayet collection of audio and transcripts from “Looking at the Law”

“This is Neil Chayet Looking at the Law.”

That was how Neil Chayet (HLS 63’) began each of the more than 10,000 recordings he made for his radio program “Looking at the Law,” which he recorded almost daily from 1976 to 2017. The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce that nearly all of these episodes are now available online and open for use.

The Neil Chayet collection of audio and transcripts from “Looking at the Law” allows users to listen to the shows, as well as read the transcripts.  In one or two minute segments Chayet would summarize court cases from around the country. He tended to be more interested in obscure or quirky cases rather than those more widely known.  It was likely his ability to make any case accessible to a general listener combined with a good sense of humor that resulted in the shows enduring popularity.

Examples of the show include:

Want to learn more about Cohen v. Minneapolis Star, et al?  Take a look at HLS alumnus Elliot C. Rothenberg’s case files from Cohen v. Cowles Media Company collection.  Rothenberg represented Cohen from February 1986 until it was heard by the Supreme Court in March 1991.

Digitization of the original cassettes is ongoing.  Audio for shows broadcast between 1976 and 1995 are available now, as are digitized transcripts from 1975 to 1989.  The entire collection should be available by early summer 2019.

Please direct any question to Historical & Special Collections.

NEW EXHIBIT! Creating Community: Harvard Law School and the Bauhaus

2019 marks the centennial of the Bauhaus, and Harvard is celebrating! The Bauhaus, considered the twentieth century’s most influential school of art and design, has deep connections to Harvard, including the Harvard Law School. Did you know that Harvard’s first example of modern architecture is on the HLS campus and was designed by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus? Or that Gropius commissioned Bauhaus pioneers to create site-specific artwork for the buildings? Come explore HLS’s connection to the Bauhaus and its role in shaping campus life.

 

Harvard Graduate Schools Alumni Day Luncheon on Jarvis Field, with Graduate Center and World Tree Sculpture in Background. Walter R. Fleischer, Harvard University News Office, June 1951, Photographs of Alumni Groups, Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

Harvard Graduate Schools Alumni Day Luncheon on Jarvis Field, with Graduate Center and World Tree Sculpture in background. Walter R. Fleischer, Harvard University News Office, June 1951, Photographs of Alumni Groups, Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

 

This exhibit was curated by Karen Beck and Lesley Schoenfeld, Historical & Special Collections. It is on view daily 9 to 5 from February 4 – July 31, 2019 in the HLS Library’s Caspersen Room, Langdell Hall. A sampling of the exhibit is available online.

Be sure to visit all of Harvard’s Bauhaus-related exhibits, tours, and events happening in 2019!   #bauhausatHLS; #bauhaus100

 

Harvard Law School Students at an Orientation Party on Jarvis Field with Caspersen Center in background, 26 August 2016, Martha Stewart, photographer, HLS Communications

Harvard Law School Students at an Orientation Party on Jarvis Field with Caspersen Student Center in background, 26 August 2016, Martha Stewart, photographer, HLS Communications

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852 RARE: New Exhibit — Spicy Reforms and Crystallizing Clap Trap: Student Organizations at Harvard Law School

What do dining halls, women’s showers at Hemenway, and shared course outlines have in common? These are all resources available at Harvard Law School today that were put into place by students of yesterday.

Historical & Special Collections’ new exhibit takes a look at how students and their ever-increasing number of law clubs, social clubs, and affinity groups have contributed to HLS culture over time. We feature long-lost organizations whose memory lives solely in the archives, current groups with storied histories that have persisted through many generations, and recently-formed groups who have already begun to make significant headway in shaping the future of HLS. We also exhibit some reactions the community has had to student organizations in the past – from interest in their proposed “spicy reforms” to warnings of “crystallizing clap trap.”

Photograph of a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) national meeting that was held in the Ames Courtoom on the HLS campus.

Photograph of a Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) national meeting that was held in the Ames Courtoom on the HLS campus. March 1972; Unknown photographer.

Following an archival collecting project undertaken by Historical & Special Collections in 2016-2018, the exhibit also addresses how archivists here at HLS and abroad are coordinating efforts to preserve today’s student histories.

This exhibit was curated by Jessica Farrell and Jane Kelly of Historical & Special Collections. It will be on view in the Caspersen Room through January 2019 with online addenda at bit.ly/HSCexhibit.

852 Rare: Hands in Manor Rolls

This is the fourth in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor GoerssPforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts.

In the margins of Harvard’s manor court rolls, little hands point the way. Here is a selection:

Four samples of hands drawn on manor court rolls

(clockwise) Folder 10, Membrane B. Moulton (Multon), Norfolk; Folder 162, Membranes D, E, and O, Great Wishford, Wiltshire.

In the manor court, an inquest jury would be convened to gather evidence and pronounce judgment on a specific dispute. On occasion, they would refer back to the court rolls to find this evidence. Jury members or scribes drew pointing hands (sometimes called manicula or manicules) to note the cases under examination. With a little bit of flair, the hands give a sense of how the rolls were handled, unfurled, searched, and marked beyond the initial court session that they record.

Sometimes parchment tags and little hands mark important cases, for good measure:

Two images showing parchment flags attached to the manor roll as well as a hand drawn pointing to the case of note

Folder 162, Membranes G and H, Great Wishford, Wiltshire

  

Further reading:

Sherman, William H. “Toward a History of the Manicule” in Used Books Marking Readers in Renaissance England. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

852 RARE: “This is Neil Chayet, Looking at the Law”

The Harvard Law School Library is excited to announce that it recently received a unique collection of material from the family of Harvard Law School (HLS) alumnus, jurist, and popular radio personality Neil Chayet (HLS ’63). Comprised of more than 10,000 individual transcripts and several thousand corresponding minute-long radio broadcast recordings, the collection represents almost the entirety of Neil Chayet’s “Looking at the Law” radio program which aired on various Boston and national radio stations from 1976-2017.

A native of Massachusetts and the son of a district court judge, Neil Chayet received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and his J.D. from HLS in 1963. His legal career focused primarily on medical law, and included work on several high-profile cases, including serving on the psychiatric task force for the Boston Strangler murders investigation, and as a lawyer representing inmates at Bridgewater State Hospital in the late 1960s. Chayet went on to become a faculty member of both the Harvard Medical School and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts.

Neil began hosting “Looking at the Law” on April 1, 1976. Originally aired on Boston radio station WEEI, the daily program switched over to WBZ Radio 1030 (owned by CBS) sometime during the mid-to-late 70s, and was eventually broadcast nationally on various affiliated CBS Radio stations. Each episode of the program – all written and recorded by Neil Chayet – opened with the host stating: “this is Neil Chayet, looking at the law” (with the L’s drawn out for effect) followed by a rapid summary of an interesting (and usually fairly quirky) court case. The program gained popularity for Chayet’s ability to quickly distill the information in a friendly manner that was easy to understand for listeners, and each broadcast ended with a humorous pun summarizing the case. For example, the July 22, 2009 episode titled “The Surf’s not the City’s Turf” details a case in which a surfer sued the city of Cape May, New Jersey for injuries sustained while surfing during a hurricane, claiming that the city had failed to provide proper warning about the conditions for beach goers. The individual ultimately lost the case, and the episode ends with Neil Chayet stating: “So the net result is that the waters have closed over Bill’s case, and if the waves pull you under, the Courts won’t come to your rescue.”

 

Chayet Transcript

Typed transcript of the “Looking at the Law” episode that aired on July 22, 2009

The collection of material that HLS received includes the typed transcripts of nearly every episode of “Looking at the Law” (more than 10,000 in total), roughly 240 audiovisual objects (cassette tapes, CDs, DAT tapes, etc.) containing recordings of several thousand “Looking at the Law” episodes, and many gigabytes of born digital material (later episodes).

Chayet audiocassette

Compact audio cassette tape containing recorded episodes of “Looking at the Law” from January, 1978

Chayet DAT tape

DAT tape containing recorded episodes of “Looking at the Law” from May-June, 1997

The goal is to provide researchers with robust digital access to this collection, something HLS staff members are working diligently to accomplish. We are currently preparing the paper material for digitization, the end-result of which will be viewing and full-text search capabilities for each typed transcript/episode online. The majority of the typed transcripts also include a citation to the legal case featured in that episode (you can see a citation toward the bottom of the transcript shown above). By collaborating with the Caselaw Access Project at HLS, we hope to provide links and/or other contextual metadata about the actual cases as well. The next phase of the project will involve digitizing the audiovisual recordings and creating links between the digitized transcripts for each episode and the related audio recording. Ultimately, the collection will be accessible to users via HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, as well as other possible locations.

So, “stay tuned” for future a future update about the project, including when the collection will be open to the public.

Post contributed by Chris Spraker, Audiovisual Archivist

852 RARE: From Paper Plates to Sticky Notes, Documenting Student Activism

Historical & Special Collections (HSC) has been working hard since the spring of 2016 to collect material that helps tell the story of student life at Harvard Law School (HLS), most recently in the form of the HLS Community Capture Project. Given our focus on archiving student action, it was very exciting to find a nondescript, cardboard box tucked away in the Library’s art office, contained objects from a student protest in 1987.

On the front of the box scribbled in pencil were notes made by Bernice Loss, the School’s first art curator. Loss, a trained artist (and spouse of HLS faculty member Louis Loss) started to look after the School’s art collection in the early 1970s. In 1977, she was named the first HLS art director, later becoming the curator of the art collection and a member of the Library’s Special Collections Department (created in 1985). Loss’ inscription reads: 1987 / Paper Plate Faces / (To protest too many male faces in collection). Inside are more than 50 papers plates with images and slogans written in marker meant to highlight the larger number of white, male portraits and the lack of women and professors of color. According to Loss’ notes, these plates were placed in the hallways of Austin Hall, on books in the Austin Hall north classroom; on the frames of pictures in Langdell Hall; as well as a few other locations on campus.

Piece of paper and 4 plates

A sign and examples of the paper plates recently rediscovered.
Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections

During her tenure, Loss worked to diversify the portrait collection, overseeing the acquisition of portraits of women and people of color including Judge Ruth Abrams (LL.B. 1956), Florence Allen, Clarence Clyde Ferguson, and George Lewis Ruffin (LL.B. 1869). However, then as now, the collection was predominantly made up of portraits of white men.

Like the notes students placed “beside portraits of black faculty, expressing appreciation for their pedagogy, scholarship, and character” in response to the vandalism of photographs of Black faculty members (and later archived by HSC), these paper plates are extremely ephemeral, making it all the more exciting that they have survived more than 30 years. They also raise interesting questions regarding their storage and preservation, as well as the ethics of collecting student protest material. Did students consider what would happen to the plates after they put them up? Were they involved in the transfer of material to the Library? How does one care for paper objects that are more 3-D than flat?

The plates and their accompanying material will now be formally accessioned and made available to anyone who would like to see them.

If you were a student involved in this protest, we would love to hear from you and learn more about this action and how the HLS community responded.

852 Rare: Feud in Wiltshire

This is the third in a series of five blogs about Historical & Special Collections’ English Manor Rolls (1305-1770). HSC was honored to have Eleanor GoerssPforzheimer Fellow ’17, with us last summer to perform research on and enhance description of this internationally-important collection, including authoring these posts. Stay tuned for more of what you’ll find, often unexpectedly, in this collection.

 

Here’s what a fourteenth-century English feud looks like, pieced together from court manor records. Warning: it involves blood.

Great Wishford, Wiltshire, Folder 162, Membrane HH (June, 1374)

Great Wishford, Wiltshire, Folder 162, Membrane HH (June, 1374)

The first entry in the section of the roll pictured above says that Gonne Brighamton, “unjustly and against the peace, drew blood from Margaret Conperes” [Gonne Brighamton iniuste et contra pacem traxit sanguinem de Margareta] and was fined four pence for it. In the next entry Walter Conperes and his wife Margaret bring a complaint against Gonne Brighamton for trespassing, saying that “she assaulted the said Margaret, who was beaten and badly handled against the peace, to damages of 50 s.” Gonne was fined three pence.

But we quickly learn that Margaret was not exactly a passive victim. The next two entries say: first, Margaret drew blood from the Gonne, and second that Margaret was fined for trespassing against Gonne, beating her and handling her badly, also for damages of 50 shillings.

In other words, Margaret and Gonne settled their bloody fight in court, loudly letting everyone know about it while also paying out a total of fourteen pence to the lord. An out-of-court settlement would have been much cheaper; in fourteenth-century Wiltshire the going rate for a “license of concord,” or permission to let charges drop, was only two pence!

Explore (and watch!) the history of the Ames Moot Court Competition!

The Ames Moot Court competition has been around for over 100 years, and thanks to a lot of hard work from both HLS Library and HLS Communications staff you can now explore that 100+ year history online!

The Ames Moot Court Competition website contains a history of the competition, the judges who have participated over the decades, best oralist and best brief winners, and recordings of many of the competitions dating back to 1974. One of the most exciting outcomes of this project is exposing footage of U.S. Supreme Court justices speaking from the bench—something that we don’t normally have the privilege to experience unless we’re at the Supreme Court in person!

The video below features Deval Patrick (HLS ’82), the former Massachusetts governor who won best oralist that year (skip ahead to 1:23:40 in the video to see him speak!), and a young Howell Jackson (HLS ’82) when he was also a student here. Professor Jackson was on the opposing team, which won best overall brief. The judges that year were Hon. Henry J. Friendly (HLS ’27), U.S. Court of Appeals for The Second Circuit, whose papers are held by Historical & Special Collections; Hon. Patricia Wald, U.S. Court of Appeals for The District of Columbia Circuit; and Hon. Nathaniel Jones, U.S. Court of Appeals for The Sixth Circuit.

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