Tuesday, May 2, 2017

New acquisition: a 19th century law student outline?

Title page of the analysis
First page of the outlineWe loved this recent acquisition because it looks like a modern day law student outline! Following the structure of Joseph Story's Commentaries on Equity Pleadings (2nd ed, New York, 1940), the author created a detailed outline of Story's famous treatise, skipping only the short introductory chapter. Though the "title page" of the manuscript refers to the work as an analysis of Story's work, it really is simply a distillation of Story's main points, moving from chapter to chapter. The compiler often added references in the margins to the specific page of Story's work being summarized.

There is no identifying information about the compiler; the final page is dated March 10, 1842, and the paper, which features the Brittania watermark, has the embossed crest of the Owen & Hurlbut paper mill in Lee, Massachusetts. It seems likely that a Bay Stater--possibly a Harvard law student--compiled the outline. Indeed, Story assigned this text to his students during the 1842-1843 term (HLS catalogue for 1842-43 term, pages 11 and 13).

Our friends at the Lawbook Exchange, from whom we purchased this manuscript, wondered if the author (potentially a lawyer instead of a student) intended it to be published, as it is a fair copy with few corrections and to their eye, formatted for a typesetter. To me, it seems like an aid created by a student for his own study, particularly with the focus on distillation instead of analysis, but it will be interested to hear from others, as folks discover this manuscript.

Many thanks to Michael von der Linn at the Lawbook Exchange for his most helpful description.