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!

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