Thursday, August 29, 2013

A hilarious blog with advice from old books...

My friend Karen Beck, Curator of Historical and Special Collections at the Harvard Law Library, recently shared a post from this fantastic blog, Ask the Past.  Editor Elizabeth Archibald has assembled a thoroughly amusing collection of advice from old books.  The accompanying visuals, sometimes from the books themselves and sometimes from other sources, never fail to add to the hilarity and to illuminate the content. 

My personal favorite post is "How to Bust a Move" (accompanying illustration shown above), which quotes Catharine E. Beecher's book Physiology and Calisthenics for Schools and Families from 1856.  There's nothing quite like reading about how to dance.  Old books are wonderful, aren't they?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Finch's Law

Sir Henry Finch (1558-1625) was an English lawyer and author.  This work represents the first English edition of a treatise first published in Latin as Nomotechnia in 1613.  It is one of the few notable original works of legal literature to come out of 17th century England. As Sir John Baker writes in his Introduction to English Legal History, this was "a bold and original essay at methodising the common law by the use of dialectical techniques learned at Cambridge." Finch's attempt to synthesize the common law undoubtedly influenced later writers such as William Blackstone. Another important edition of this work, commonly called Finch's Law, lives in our collection; it is a 1759 edition with notes by Danby Pickering of Gray's Inn. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day book of a 19th century Pennsylvania lawyer

Our collection focuses on the activities of working lawyers in England and America--the books they likely would have owned and any records of their day-to-day lives as legal professionals.  Thus, this little day book from a Pennsylvania attorney makes a perfect addition to our collection.  Entries cover the period from 1870-1919, when attorney Eugene Snyder was practicing in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

As Michael von der Linn from Lawbook Exchange writes in his description of the item, Snyder "attended Dickinson College, read law with a local attorney and attended Harvard Law School, was admitted to the Dauphin County Bar in 1860 and practiced in Harrisburg. He appears to have led a rather uneventful life. According to a 1907 biography, 'Mr. Snyder is an extremely unassuming man, of mild temperament. He does not like notoriety, has never been a candidate for or held office, and prefers the quiet office practice to the more spectacular work of the court. He has a fair share of office and commercial legal business' (Maspero). His day book, which lists services rendered and fees charged over a 49-year period, concurs with this description. As such, it offers a fine perspective on the professional activity of a well-respected attorney with a solid, but routine, practice." Maspero, The Twentieth-Century Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania II:25 (online edition).