Friday, December 11, 2009

Rare Book Room Closed for the Holidays

The Rare Book Room is closed until Monday, January 11, for cleaning and exhibit work. Watch this space for news about our next exhibit, which will open in January. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last Chance to View Our Fall Exhibit

Our fall 2009 exhibit, Recent Additions to the Collection, will be on view through Friday December 11. If you've been planning to stop by and see it in person, now is the time! If you cannot make it to the library, not to worry: the exhibit will continue to exist in the wonderful world of cyberspace.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Wonderful Letter About Our "American Blackstone"

We just acquired a letter from William Price to his law partner, James Clapp, written in 1812. Price wrote about all sorts of things in this four-page letter, including dry goods, law practice, and women, but most interesting of all, he wrote about James Kent, "The American Blackstone." Bibliophiles love James Kent because he loved books. He had a stellar private library, mainly consisting of law books, many of which he carefully annotated. He kept a detailed shelflist of his books, showing exactly where each book resided in his home. His library occupied several rooms of his house.

Price had this to say about Kent, who was 49 years old at the time: "I this evening again visited the Chief Justice pursuant to invitation and was never more delightfully entertained - Old madeira and choice cigars ... He was perfectly free & easy & appeared desirous only to please us - He took the candle & travelled round his library . . . He is indeed Clapp a great man - The notes he has made in the Books in his library would of themselves you would suppose occupy a whole life ..."

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Most Curious Little Work ...

Because a major goal of our rare books program is to document the way Anglo-American lawyers learned and practiced law, we could not resist purchasing this strange little volume, which was published in London in 1815. I'll let the title speak for itself: Robert Shuttleworth, A Manual for the Assistance of Magistrates, in applying the forms sold by Coles and Galpin, containing blank precedents of such proceedings as are not sold amongst the separate Forms; with short references to the statutes, up to the present time; interspersed with remarks, to assist the Magistrate, Constable, and Parish-Officer.

How odd. This is a practical legal treatise sponsored and published by London stationers Coles & Galpin, as a guide to the use of their printed legal forms. These forms were sold separately; the preface gives information on how and where to purchase them. I have never seen a "proprietary" legal manual such as this one, and thought it would be an excellent and unusual addition to our strong collection of early legal practice materials. If anyone is aware of other examples of this phenomenon, I would appreciate hearing about them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

This Just In: Thomas Craig's Jus Feudale

Last year, we received a most intriguing gift from Professor Mike Hoeflich of the University of Kansas Law School: a beautifully bound manuscript book containing notes from Scottish jurist Thomas Craig's landmark work, Jus Feudale. Read more about it here.

To supplement Professor Hoeflich's important gift and facilitate research on our manuscript copy, we recently added a first edition of Jus Feudale to our collection. Published in Edinburgh in 1655 and written in Latin, this treatise was the first work devoted to Scots law. Our copy features the signature of an early owner, "Lauderdale 1714."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Rare Giles Jacob Title Added to the Collection

We recently acquired a fine addition to our collection of works by the legal publisher and writer Giles Jacob, many of which were bequeathed to us by our beloved and generous friend the late Kitty Preyer.

As he did with his more popular works, Jacob wrote The Grand Precedent: or, the Conveyancer's Guide and Assistant (London, 1716) to help lawyers and laypeople alike to learn and understand the law. Unlike most of his other works, including the very famous Every Man His Own Lawyer and the New Law Dictionary, The Grand Precedent only appeared in one edition.

Our copy features the autograph of an early owner, Alexander Johnson, on the title page. Numerous handwritten notes, probably also by Johnson, are sprinkled throughout the text. The book is found in full calf leather and features attractive decorative tooling and a blind stamped armorial crest, probably of Irish origin.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Publisher's Art

Several years ago, our dear friend the late Kitty Preyer gave us a copy of Henry Dagge's Considerations on Criminal Law. Published in London in 1772, this copy is particularly interesting because it reveals some intermediary stages in the printing and selling of law books. The printer bound the book in humble cardboard covers colored a striking vivid blue. In most cases a client would buy the book in printer's boards like this and have it bound to his or her particular taste and budget, mostly likely in full calf-leather covers. That did not happen here.

Most books have their pages cut to a uniform size and shape, which gives them a smooth block-like appearance. This book did not get that far. Its pages are uncut, showing rough, uneven edges when viewed closed. Some of the pages are unopened, which means the edges of a large sheet of paper that had been folded into two or more pages were not cut during the manufacturing process, rendering the pages nearly impossible to read. Cutting and opening would usually happen during the binding process.

Perhaps this humble copy never left the shelves of the printer until long after it was printed, or its early owner(s) lacked the means or the interest to bind, cut, and open its pages. Either way, it survives as an interesting example of a rarely seen stage in the life of a book.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

We Have Had Visitors ...

One of the most rewarding things about working in special collections is the opportunity to share our treasures with others. In the past few weeks, many of our books and documents have seen the light of day. Professor Dan Coquillette brought his English Legal History class in twice: once to view Roman law books, and again to view early English legal treatises. Helen Lacouture and I brought 65 English and American books to Professor Mary Bilder's American Legal History class, so each student could touch and examine a piece of the history they are learning. Joan Shear's Environmental Law Research class came in to see some early English works on the environment and land use.

Today I get to teach Denise Sharif's Advanced Legal Research class about the early history of Anglo-American case reporting, using books from our collection as examples. It is always a pleasure to give students a chance to see rare books up close - often for the first time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Arrivals: Signed First Editions of Political Works

We just received a great gift of four signed first editions of modern political works: Jimmy Carter's Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, Ted Kennedy's America Back on Track, and Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope. Many thanks to our library colleague and intrepid bibliophile Karen Breda for this wonderful gift. She is almost singlehandedly responsible for our small but growing collection of modern firsts!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New: Giles Jacob's Common Law, Common Plac'd

We have just acquired a very nice copy of Giles Jacob's law guide for the layperson, The Common Law Common-Plac'd. First published in London in 1726, it appeared in three editions; ours is the second, dated 1733.

In this work Jacob wrote brief summaries of many legal subjects and arranged them alphabetically, from Abatement to Writs. The "H's" yield some fascinating topics, including several that hark back to feudalism. In addition to the more familiar Homage, Heriot is defined as "the best Beast, or other Thing, that a Tenant dies possessed of, due and payable to the Lord."

Other fun legal concepts to toss out at your next cocktail party include Hotchpot: "a Blending or Mixing together of Interests, and a Partition of Lands given in Marriage, with other Lands falling by Discent." And Hue and Cry: "a Pursuit after one who hath committed a Robbery on the Highway" - essentially an early version of a phone tree, except done on horseback or by foot.

Our copy features several signatures of early owners. William Burrows paid seven pounds for the book at some very early point in its history. James Gillespie, Jr. owned the book in 1818. And a "Woodbury" signature suggests the book was owned by associate Supreme Court Justice Levi Woodbury, or perhaps one of his sons.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Avast, Ye Mateys!

This is a shout-out to our friends at Boston College's John J. Burns Library of rare books and special collections. In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Saturday September 19, the Burns Library has an exhibit of antiquarian books about pirates on view through September 26. Check it out . . . but leave your stash of rum outside the library!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Francis Bacon's Essay on Gardens

We received this delightful book from Professor Daniel R. Coquillette as part of an important gift of books by and about Sir Francis Bacon, famous English jurist and rival of Sir Edward Coke. This copy is a manuscript, handwritten by "C.M.D." in 1912. It is inscribed by Bacon bibliographer R.W. Gibson to "Mrs. E. Wrigley - The very good friend of the Bacon Bibliography. Xmas 1959. R.W. Gibson." View more images here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Exhibit: Recent Additions to the Collection - Fall 2009

You are invited to visit our latest exhibit in the Boston College Law Library’s Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room. “Recent Additions to the Collection” features books, manuscripts, and art donated by Dan Coquillette, Buzzy Baron, Morris Cohen, Mike Hoeflich, and Robert Brooker, as well as materials we have purchased to strengthen key areas of our collection.

The exhibit features a number of eye-catching items, including two large property deeds handwritten on vellum, a comical lithograph of French lawyers by the satirist Honoré Daumier, elegant engravings of London law buildings, and a piece of colorful sheet music written in the 1890s to advertise a new legal encyclopedia. Several important legal manuscripts and magnificent early printed books are also on view.

You can view highlights of the exhibit here. A handout describing the entire exhibit and a photo gallery of selected images are also available. The exhibit will be on view through early December 2009. The Rare Book Room is generally open Monday – Friday 9 to 5. If you are in the Boston area, please stop by.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Brooker Collection: Slow and Steady Progress

Our efforts to digitize the entire collection of some 3,ooo documents in the Robert E. Brooker Collection of Early American Legal and Land use Documents are continuing apace. We now have better than 1/10 of the collection available and fully searchable in Boston College's Digital Collections. These documents are also searchable in Google and other public search engines. Watch this space for progress reports. We hope you enjoy finding and using these wonderful documents!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Signing at AALL

If you will be attending the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Washington, DC next week, please join us for a book signing, hosted by the Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.

I'll be at booth #1119 on Sunday July 26 from 9 to 10 a.m. to sign copies of my book, A Working Lawyer's Life: The Letter Book of John Henry Senter (1879-1884). Published by The Lawbook Exchange, the book draws upon unique manuscript material in the collection of the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room.

It would be great to see a lot of folks there, so please join us!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Making of a Collector

On page 4 of the spring/summer issue of BC Law Magazine is an article featuring Michael Morales, BC Law class of 2009 and collector of works by and about Simon Greenleaf. We recently featured an exhibit of Michael's Greenleaf collection in the Rare Book Room. Congratulations, Michael!

(Note: scroll to page 6 of the PDF to find the article, or do a "find" search for "Morales.")

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rare Book Room Closed June 8-12

The Room will be closed the week of June 8-12 for exhibit and collection maintenance work. While the room will be unavailable for tours and visits, we can make arrangements if you need to view an item in our collection - so please get in touch.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Last Chance to See Our Current Exhibit!

Our current exhibit, "A Law Student Collects: Simon Greenleaf and Michael Morales," will close at 1 pm on Friday June 5. If you have not already seen it, please stop by this week to say a fond farewell.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Hours

Our summer hours are now in effect, which means we are open Monday - Thursday 9 to 5 and Friday 9 to 1. During the summer, we close the room from time to time for exhibit work and collection maintenance. Those closures will be posted here, but if you are planning a visit, do feel free to give us a call first to make sure that we'll be open for your visit.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Brooker Digitization Project Off to a Good Start

Working with colleagues from Boston College's O'Neill Library, we have begun to digitize the Robert E. Brooker III Collection of American Legal and Land Use Documents. When the project is finished, the entire collection of about 3,000 documents will be searchable in Boston College's Digital Collections, and via Google and other search engines as well. At the time of this posting, 173 documents are available, with more being added all the time. Watch this space for progress reports!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seminar: Law, Crime & Society in Ancient Rome

On Friday April 17, 2009, ten librarians, including yours truly, attended a seminar at the UC Berkeley Law School entitled “Law, Crime & Society in Ancient Rome.” We convened in the conference room of The Robbins Collection, a world-renowned collection of religious and civil law materials housed within the law library. Hosted by Lucia Diamond, The Robbins Collection’s Senior Reference and Collection Development Librarian, and other Robbins Collection colleagues, we first heard a fascinating lecture on the history and evolution of Roman law by Professor Laurent Mayali, Director of the Robbins Collection.

We then spent most of the day discussing selections from pre-assigned readings on Roman criminal law. We also discussed the formation of a new Roman Law Interest Group that we hope will meet on a regular basis. The goal of this group is to share ideas that will help the law librarian who gets very few Roman law questions each year, and who wants to learn more about the topic in a pressure-free setting. The next meeting will take place at the American Association of Law Libraries’ Annual Meeting in July 2009. We will discuss Jill Harries’ book, LAW AND CRIME IN THE ROMAN WORLD (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and will select the following year’s book as well. Everyone who plans to attend AALL’s Annual Meeting is encouraged to join us!

Many thanks to Lucia and her colleagues for sponsoring, organizing, and hosting such a fun and edifying event. Everyone who participated had a wonderful time!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Arrival: Presentation Copy of Simon Greenleaf's Evidence Treatise

We just purchased a very special first edition of Simon Greenleaf's famous TREATISE ON THE LAW OF EVIDENCE in honor of Michael Morales, BC Law class of 2009 and collector of materials by and about Greenleaf. The volume will be on view in the Rare Book Room until early June 2009.

Simon Greenleaf presented this copy to his colleague and friend, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, with whom Greenleaf taught law at Harvard. The book is opened to Greenleaf’s presentation, which reads: "To / The Hon. Joseph Story / with the affectionate / regards of / S. Greenleaf". Greenleaf also dedicated the treatise to Story.

This copy is bound just as Justice Story must have received it. There appear to be two substantive annotations in the hand of Justice Story, one at the foot of page 32 and the other on the rear blank page. This book remained in Story's library until his death in 1845. It was sold at auction the following year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Celebration in the Rare Book Room!

On April 27, 2009, colleagues, friends, and family assembled to celebrate our current exhibit, "A Law Student Collects: Simon Greenleaf and Michael Morales." The exhibit features Morales' collection of rare books and manuscripts by and about 19-century lawyer, law teacher, and scholar Simon Greenleaf. Michael, who will graduate this spring with a JD from BC Law and an MA from BC's Lynch School of Education, curated the exhibit with Karen Beck, BC Law's Curator of Rare Books / Collection Development Librarian.

The event was extra festive because it coincided with the last day of law school classes. Congratulations to Michael on his collection (of rare books as well as advanced degrees!), and many thanks for sharing them with us. And special thanks to Joe Breda for taking terrific pictures of the event!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

New Gift Books from Professor Coquillette

Professor Daniel R. Coquillette, J. Donald Monan S.J. University Professor at the Boston College Law School, has given the Law Library several sets of historical, literary and reference works, and three rare historical studies of Doctors’ Commons. The collection complements a gift of classical, historic, and literary works belonging to the late Frank Williams Oliver and given to the Library in 2008 by his widow AndrĂ©e Oliver.

Included in the gift is a beautiful leather-bound thirteen-volume Encyclopedia Americana: A Popular Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature, History, Politics, and Biography, dated 1846. Besides providing a window into all areas of life in the mid-nineteenth century, this set is particularly valuable to legal historians because it includes many law-related articles written by Joseph Story, an early Supreme Court Justice and Professor at Harvard Law School.

Literary works include a Victorian edition of the Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1899) and a magnificent limited-edition eighteen-volume set of The Diary of Samuel Pepys (1899), featuring charts, illustrations, engravings, and two-color red and green title pages. Both of these works are replete with references to lawyers and the effects of law on the lives of everyday people.

Completing the gift are three historical studies of Doctors’ Commons, the British society of civil law practitioners in the Admiralty and ecclesiastical courts, which existed from 1495 to 1858. Two works deal with the demise of Doctors’ Commons, and one anonymous work, The Proctor and Parator, or Lamentation of the Doctors Commons for their Downfall, is an extremely rare comic play “relating the fearful abuses and exorbitancies of those spirituall courts.” These special books complement works purchased from the Library of Doctors’ Commons and given to the Law Library by Professor Coquillette in previous years.

Our warmest thanks to Professor Coquillette for his generosity to the library and his enthusiasm for special collections!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Now Open Expanded Hours

Effective immediately, we are now open an hour later in the afternoon: Monday - Friday 9 to 5. Come visit us!

Friday, March 20, 2009

This Just In: William Donnison's Legal Account Book

We recently acquired the legal account book of William Donnison of Boston, Massachusetts. Between 1810 and 1822, Donnison kept records of the legal work he performed for people, as well as a list of his Boston dwellings and office locations. The notebook is 124 pages long, bound in thick paper wrappers, and is in very good condition. Among the Boston luminaries mentioned in his entries is John Quincy Adams.

Friday, February 27, 2009

New Virtual Exhibit of Law-Related Ephemera

Please visit our virtual exhibit of legal ephemera! The Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room owns a small collection of law-related ephemera, including postcards, advertisements, sheet music and the like. These items serve as colorful reminders of the pervasiveness and power of law and legal imagery in our society. Most of these items are gifts from Michael H. Hoeflich, who also wrote the captions for nearly all of the images shown here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Colonial Boston Newspaper Arrives in the Rare Book Room

We recently acquired a four-page issue of the Boston Chronicle, a pre-Revolutionary newspaper with Loyalist leanings. The issue is dated Thursday, May 25 to Monday, May 29, 1769. During this period the newspaper reported extensively on the debate between England and the American Colonies on the issue of taxation. The first page of this issue contains a lengthy response to an earlier argument by Dr. Franklin in favor of the Colonies. Here, the author argued that all of England's subjects, wherever they are situated, must pay the taxes ordered by Parliament whether or not the subjects consent to the tax. The paper also contains legal notices, including news of a Philadelphia man who was sentenced to death for rape; a report of a theft from the ship Nancy; creditors' claims against an insolvent man's estate; and a notice of divorce. Other items include announcements of a Wednesday night concert (admission: one-half dollar), news from Philadelphia and London, reports of ships arriving and departing, and notices of sales of wine, clothing, and books.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This Just In: Manuscript Copy of Craig's Ius Feudale

We recently received a magnificent manuscript copy of Thomas Craig's Ius Feudale from Michael H. Hoeflich. Originally published in 1603, the Ius Feudale solidified the idea of a separate body of Scotch law. It takes its place in our collection alongside other important Scottish legal works such as the Regiam Majestatem

This manuscript, beautifully bound in speckled calf leather with delicate floral borders tooled along the spine, probably dates from the seventeenth century. It was written by an unknown person who had probably gotten hold of an early printed edition of the work, and wanted to make a copy for himself or herself. 

We are most grateful to Professor Hoeflich for this remarkable gift. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Acquisition: Manuscript Account Book of Asa Holten

We have just received a wonderful legal manuscript: the account book of lawyer Asa Holten. Holten (1786-1841) kept this book from 1814 to 1841. His Claremont, New Hampshire practice was wide-ranging, as the entries in this book show, and included litigation work, settling estates, drafting documents, collecting debts, and appearing in court on a wide variety of subject matters. 

This special book takes its place in our growing collection of legal documents and manuscripts, which was begun a few years ago with a large gift of manuscripts from Robert E.  Brooker III. This book was purchased with funds donated by Mr. Brooker. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Exhibit: A Law Student Collects - Simon Greenleaf and Michael Morales

You are invited to view a selection of rare books and documents by and about lawyer, scholar, and law professor Simon Greenleaf, drawn primarily from the collection of Michael Morales, BC Law class of 2009.

Michael first became interested in collecting works by Simon Greenleaf while working as a research assistant for Professor Daniel R. Coquillette during the summer of 2007. As a member of BC Law’s Law and Religion Program, Michael was particularly interested in Greenleaf because much of his work combined both law and religion. Michael was also fascinated by Greenleaf because he was an early American legal educator.

Highlights of the exhibit are available here. It will remain on view through early June 2009.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Book: A Working Lawyer's Life

Drawing from material in the Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room, BC Law's Curator of Rare Books / Collection Development Librarian Karen S. Beck has published a book: A Working Lawyer's Life: The Letter Book of John Henry Senter 1879-1884.

Senter (1848-1916) was a lawyer who practiced in the small town of Warren, Vermont. His letter book was donated to the BC Law Library by Professor Emeritus Richard G. Huber. The letter book contains 326 letters copied between April 1879 and 1884, which record his business dealings, goals and thoughts. Richly detailed and often frank, these letters take us into the world of a small-town lawyer in the late nineteenth century. They introduce us to his clients, the legal matters he addressed, the way he ran his business and his daily difficulties (such as clients who failed to pay their bills).

This book has two parts. The first part is a biography of Senter and a history of his practice. The second is a transcription of the letter book.