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

New Exhibit, now open: Queering the Collection: LGBTQ+ History ca. 1600-1970

Many library collections contain rich stories of individuals across centuries who transgressed sexual and gender norms, as well as documentation of the people and systems against which they transgressed. These historical artifacts can help shape new narratives around queer history and identity, or enrich old ones. Coded language and oblique references may pose challenges to researchers, but there is a wealth of material to find on queer people throughout history.

Each case in the exhibit highlights a different approach to researching queer history: using known figures, embracing uncomfortable terms, being open to the unexpected, and using secondary sources. We explored a number of fascinating stories but our research barely scratched the surface. We encourage researchers to continue the exploration and hope this exhibit will give you some tools to get started.

The exhibit was curated by A.J. Blechner, Anna Martin, and Mary Person and will be on view daily, 9-5, in Harvard Law School Library’s Caspersen Room through February 14, 2020.

Check out a few highlights from the exhibit here: www.bit.ly/hlslqtc

Image credit: Mary Frith in detail from title page of: The Roaring Girle or Moll Cut-Purse, by Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker (London, 1611)

Final Days: HLS and the Bauhaus exhibit

Stop by the Harvard Law School Library to catch Creating Community: Harvard Law School and the Bauhaus before it closes! The exhibit is open weekdays 9 to 5 in Langdell Hall’s Caspersen Room through August 16, 2019.

Stay tuned for our next exhibit, Queering the Collection: LGBTQ+ History ca. 1600-1970, opening soon!

852 RARE: An Update on the Antonin Scalia Collection

Two years ago, the Harvard Law School Library received an extraordinary archival collection when the family of Justice Antonin Scalia decided to donate his papers here. As project archivist for the Scalia papers, I’ve been surveying and processing this remarkable collection, with the goal of identifying, processing, and making accessible those parts of the collection that will be open in 2020. To date, material that should be open next year includes:

  • Pre-Supreme Court files (1970-1986)
  • Correspondence (through 1989 only)
  • Speaking engagement and event files (through 1989 only)
  • Photographs (circa 1982-2016)
  • Miscellaneous files such as subject files and articles about Scalia (1986-2016)

I am currently working to process the more heavily restricted parts of the collection, which include records from Scalia’s time on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1982-1986) and the Supreme Court (1986-2016). Pending further review, a tentative estimate is that roughly half of the case files from Scalia’s four terms on the Court of Appeals may be opened at some point in 2020.

Scalia papers arriving at Harvard’s offsite storage, November 2017
Scalia papers arriving at Harvard’s offsite storage, November 2017

We will continue to post updates here as the project continues and welcome all inquiries. As is true for all archival collections at the Harvard Law School Library, the portion of the Scalia papers opening next year will be open to all. Historical & Special Collections’ Planning Your Visit page provides details on how to schedule an appointment and request material.

Today at HLS: Prepare to Practice Conference – Keynote Speech by Professor Daniel Coquillette

Taking place at Harvard Law School today is the 2019 Inaugural Prepare to Practice Conference, a joint initiative between the HLS Library and four other local law schools (Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, and Suffolk). This conference is designed to provide Boston-area law students with legal research instruction oriented toward their future roles as practicing attorneys.

The conference featured an excellent keynote speech by Professor Daniel Coquillette, the J. Donald Monan, S.J. University Professor at Boston College and the Charles Warren Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School. Professor Coquillette began his remarks by recognizing and thanking the law librarians who have helped him throughout his career as an attorney, law professor, and researcher. He characterized law librarians as “your very best friend and the ones who will see you through to the end.”

Professor Coquillette then provided a brief history of legal research, beginning with the observation that, since Gutenberg invented movable print in 1455, it has been possible to print absolutely accurate law books, which has transformed how law is studied and practiced. In particular, this facilitated several important developments in modern legal systems, primary among which is “precedent justice.”

He then noted that, until about 20 years ago, legal research happened exclusively in the law library, where all of the important primary and secondary legal sources lived and from which they could not be borrowed. Historically, law students wrote research notes by hand, and then, when he was a law student, using a portable typewriter. In addition, in order to find materials in the library, researchers had to use the card catalog, which featured an indexing system that many library users were unable to navigate and use without the help of a librarian.

All of this changed with the invention of online legal research. Today, he noted, Westlaw and Lexis provide essentially intuitive access to all of the primary and secondary sources that legal researchers would need, with automated, hyperlink-equipped citators that make the pain of having to use books to Shepardize cases a distant memory.

Professor Coquillete contended that, while on the surface this appears to have made legal research easier, it has also presented a new set of challenges. Today, if you want the legal information equivalent of a glass of water, you go to what is essentially a fire hydrant to fill that glass, and a lot of what is coming out of that fire hydrant lacks quality. Quality, of course, is expensive — ask any law librarian whose responsibilities include managing a library budget. Furthermore, information that has not been screened to determine its quality may, in fact, be as good as useless. This is a major problem of what he calls the modern “disinformation age,” and why the continued work of law libraries is so important to legal practice and scholarship.

According to Professor Coquillette, even if legal researchers have quality information, they also need two important skills to process it. The first is critical judgment, which is a skill that can be learned, both through experience and one-on-one mentorship. Without critical judgment, which allows a person to see the essence of a problem and craft a reasonable response to it, even quality information can be dangerous. The second is wisdom, which can also be characterized as perspective and seeing the big picture. This is stored in the culture of our systems of law and democracy, and is passed on through both people and books.

According to Professor Coquillette, it is easier than ever to lose sight of the big picture in our digital world of instant knowledge and instant gratification. One way in which people can regain it, however, is to read: not only legal materials, but also classic novels. As a conclusion to his remarks, Professor Coquillette recommended three books in particular that provide guidance on how we can critically view some of the largest problems of our time.

The first of these problems is climate. Professor Coquillette suggested reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville. In your reading, imagine that the ship (the Pequot) is human government and at the helm is Captain Ahab, a crazy megalomaniac who, despite all reasonable warnings not to, decides to take on the natural world as symbolized by a great white whale. Spoiler alert: the Pequot is destroyed, and Captain Ahab dies.

Racism is another great problem of our age, and Professor Coquillette recommended reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to gain a bigger picture of that problem. The story presents, in code, a true picture of racism’s destructive impact on people and societies.

Problem number three is that of living and working in what he called “coercive environments.” This problem, in particular, comes with the territory in the legal profession. Professor Coquillette proposed reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison for guidance on contemplating this problem in a big-picture way. The theme of this book is that, if you get to the point where people see you for what they assume you should be, they see right through you and you become invisible and disappear, a phenomenon characterized by Professor Coquillette as a “moral sickness” of our age.

Professor Coquillette is a very engaging speaker, and his keynote was a perfect way to kick off this conference. Not only did it remind attendees of the value of law libraries and librarians as partners in the legal research process, but it also encouraged students to incorporate critical judgment as they work toward becoming attorneys who are charged with addressing and solving large- and small-scale societal problems.

Upcoming Event at the Harvard Law School Library: Prepare to Practice Inaugural Legal Research Conference 2019

We are looking forward to hosting our first Prepare to Practice Legal Research Conference for law students next Tuesday, May 21, 8:30am – 4:30pm. We are teaming up to four other Boston-area law schools (Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and Suffolk) to offer this full-day event, which focuses on getting students up to speed on research methods for fact-finding, corporate law, immigration, and many other topics.

The conference will feature speakers from firms, courts, non-profits, and law schools. Student attendees will also also have the chance to speak with legal database providers about some of their latest and greatest services!

A complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The conference will conclude with a networking reception in the ​Harvard Law School Library.

Are you a Boston-area law student who is interested in attending? Attendee spots are still available, and we would love to have you join us! To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prepare-to-practice-inaugural-legal-research-conference-2019-tickets-57800959225.

Law Library Adds the Mueller Report to the Collection

U.S. politics has been abuzz since the recent release of a report by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which details findings of a two-year investigation into possible Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have made the entire Mueller Report available online.  It can also be downloaded from the Special Counsel’s page on the Department of Justice’s website (archived at https://perma.cc/C24U-HCME).

The internet can be great for accessing documents, and terrible for reading and processing them.  Have you tried, and given up, reading the Mueller Report on your computer or, worse yet, on your phone?  Is your printing account credit too low to print the 400+ pages of the report yourself?  If you are a Harvard Law School affiliate, you’re in luck. You can check out a copy of the Mueller Report, printed and bound by the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, from the law library’s reserve collection

Further Research: Trump Administration

Perhaps, after perusing the Mueller Report, you would like to read more about Trump and his presidency?  If so, you may find this Harvard Library catalog (HOLLIS) search useful:

HOLLIS Search: Subject = “Trump, Donald, — 1946-“

There is also a helpful HOLLIS search for materials on the US government in general since Trump’s election:

HOLLIS Search: Subject = “United States — Politics and Government — 2017-“

Further Research: Investigations by the Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office

The office that issued the 2019 Mueller Report is the U.S. Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office. Its historical precursor, the Office of the Independent Counsel, was established under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-521). In the late 1990s, under the auspices of this office, Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr investigated potential misconduct by President Bill Clinton. That investigation led to Clinton’s impeachment, and ultimate acquittal.

In 1999, the law that governed the Office of the Independent Counsel expired. However, under Department of Justice regulations that went into effect on July 1, 1999 (64 Fed. Reg. 37038; codified at 28 C.F.R. §§ 600.1-600.10), the Attorney General gained the authorization to appoint a Special Counsel to conduct a similar type of investigation that the Independent Counsel used to perform. According to the regulations, the Special Counsel is required to “investigate and, when appropriate, to prosecute matters when the Attorney General concludes that extraordinary circumstances exist such that the public interested would be served by removing a large degree of responsibility for a matter from the Department of Justice.”

Important Note:
The Justice Department’s Special Counsel Office is not the same as the federal government’s
Office of the Special Counsel.  Under 5 U.S.C. §§ 1211-1219, the Office of the Special Counsel is part of a federal government oversight regime, which also includes the Merit Systems Protection Board, established under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-454).

For more information about the history of the special/independent counsel, there is an excellent description on the PBS Frontline website, A Brief History of the Independent Counsel Law. For a more in-depth treatment of the topic, the Congressional Research Service has published a thorough, well-annotated report that was updated in March 2019 — Special Counsel Investigations: History, Authority, Appointment, and Removal.

Interested in finding additional books and articles about the history of investigations into misconduct by U.S. politicians? Below are some HOLLIS searches to get you started.

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

Tags:

Research at the Law Library

IMPORTANT NOTE:
Right now, it is exam period at the law school, and the law library is filled to capacity with studying law students.  During this time, with very limited exceptions, the law library is only open to current HLS affiliates and an HLS ID card must be shown to gain admission.  For more information, inquire at the circulation desk.  The telephone number is (617) 495-3455.

I recently gave a library tour to a group of conference attendees here at the law school.  Like many visitors of this nature, they asked me about opportunities to come and research at the law library.  So I thought I’d do a quick blog post about it, with links to the relevant websites that provide more information.

For general information about the law library’s admission policy, visit the Admission to the Library page on our website.  This page includes a link to the form that anyone who is not a Harvard student or a member of the Harvard staff or faculty must fill out to be admitted to the library, including HLS alumni.  The form requires you to indicate your affiliation information, and provides information about admission fees, if they are applicable to your situation.

If you have an academic affiliation, and are wondering whether you can access our library for research and how much, if anything, it would cost, this form will likely answer that question for you.  However, if you would like more more information, you may send an email to access@law.harvard.edu.

The HLS Graduate Program has a Visiting Scholar / Visiting Researcher Program, for which admission is competitive and which has admitted law professors and graduate students from all over the world to conduct research related to specified scholarly projects.  Participants in this program are in residence at the law school, which provides them admission to the law library, for either a semester or an academic year.

Finally, in each of the last several years, the law library’s Library Innovation Lab has sponsored a summer fellows program, during which fellows work on their own projects and on other projects in collaboration with Lab members.  The website does not have information yet about the 2019 summer fellows program, but stay tuned!

%d bloggers like this: