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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

New Rare Acquisitions: A Clarence Darrow Letter and More

The Law Library and Riesenfeld Center have recently added several notable items to its collection of letters, writings, and other material by the great American trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow. The new letter in particular augments the Library’s preeminent national collection of autograph letters by Darrow, and captures his deeply-held views on capital punishment.

Written in August 1930 to Maria Sweet Smith, Darrow outlines in the letter his fierce opposition to a campaign against capital punishment proposed by Smith. Although a lifelong opponent of the death penalty, Darrow was unimpressed by Smith's approach, which argued that abolishing the death penalty would reduce crime. Smith suggested that they could convince potential donors to the campaign of the high economic costs of crime, an approach that Darrow rejected out of hand. He believed that an abiding mercy toward the human condition left little room to support capital punishment, and that reform must be pursued from that direction. As he saw it, the fight against the death penalty had to be led by “the poor and the humane and the idealists."

In addition to the letter, we have acquired several other items connected to Darrow's famous and contrarian views on crime and punishment. Among these are a British author's darkly satirical take on hanging and other forms of capital punishment, A Handbook on Hanging, which the author inscribed to Darrow in 1929, and a 1903 first edition of a symposium featuring Darrow's views on incarceration. We also recently picked up a 1993 reprint of one of Darrow's articles on crime and punishment, printed in an anarchist magazine. Darrow's writings and speeches, often articulating his trenchant and iconoclastic views, have remained popular and continue to be printed today.

To this material, we have also added photographs and other images of Darrow to our collections. These include an excellent caricature of Darrow by the American artist Aline Fruhauf (1907-78) and a photo of Darrow, John Thomas Scopes, and William Jennings Bryan at the infamous Scopes "Monkey" Trial, which is signed by each of the trial's great protagonists.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections



Friday, June 7, 2019

New Tumblr Posts: from the Glorious Revolution to D-Day

Capt. Horace Hansen, a prosecutor at the Dachau
war crimes trials, 1945-47, with Sen. Claude Pepper. 
We have a host of new and interesting posts by my colleague Ian Moret over on our Tumblr site.  Ian has done a great job to mine our collections for historical materials that might not otherwise be uncovered; and has highlighted material that we will feature in larger projects in the future.  In the former category is the fascinating trial of John Perrott, the last man hanged in England for bankruptcy.  Perrott failed to cooperate with the bankruptcy commissioners, a capital offense in mid-18th century England, being unable or unwilling to account for large sums borrowed from creditors.  See Ian's link to a great article on the subject of Perrott by law professor Emily Kadens.  There is also interesting documentation from our Darrow Collection, revealing property that Clarence Darrow held in Minnesota, as well as posts (and here, and here) on new acquisitions related to the Glorious Revolution in England, among others.  In the latter category, of material that we are developing into larger projects, there are several posts related to our Horace Hansen archival collection (most recently here, and here, for the D-Day anniversary).  Hansen, from St. Paul, MN, was a WWII war crimes prosecutor at the Dachau war crimes trials.  Hansen's archive represents a rich trove and legacy that we are developing into a digital exhibit and collection.  Thanks to Ian for these great posts!

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections 


Friday, May 31, 2019

New Digital Exhibit: Celebrating Walter F. Mondale Hall

The University of Minnesota Law Library is pleased to announce the release of a new digital exhibit:

"A Foundation in the Law: Celebrating 40 Years at Walter F. Mondale Hall"

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Law School's Walter F. Mondale Hall, and gave occasion to celebrate the rich tradition of legal education that thrives within it. The Law Library celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Law School building with the opening of a commemorative exhibit.  We are pleased to announce that the exhibit is now available in digital format as part of the Law Library's Digital Special Collections.

Dedicated in the spring of 1978, the Law School building and the vision behind it provided the foundation for numerous achievements in the past four decades. During this time, the growth and diversification of the student body and faculty, the inception of new student programs and journals, the growth of the library, and the development of the Law School's clinics, centers and institutes, among other achievements, have contributed in transformative ways to the life of the Law School and its success.

In 2001, with the completion of a major addition, the Law School building was rededicated as Walter F. Mondale Hall, in honor of the Law School's illustrious graduate and great friend, The Honorable Walter Mondale ('56). The expansion added new spaces for research, teaching, student activities and library special collections, in support of the Law School's tradition of advancing ideas at the forefront of legal education. 

The Law Library’s new digital exhibit, “A Foundation in the Law: Celebrating 40 Years at Walter F. Mondale Hall,” ensures that the story of the Law School building will be preserved. We invite visitors to learn more about the building and its history on our digital site.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Our Rare Chinese Law Collection

Recently we were visited by Yao Chen, the librarian of the East Asian collection in Wilson Library here on campus. Yao is working on compiling an important bibliography of rare Chinese books at the University, which involves updating the records and information we have about the books. It is a great project that allows us to learn more about our own collection also, which has been exciting. 

Our collection of Chinese law was largely acquired from the Northwestern Law Library as a single acquisition. Although not extensive, a number of multi-volume sets push the size of the collection over 100 volumes and fascicles. The earliest title in the collection, published in 1810, is the Ta Tsing Leu Lee in its first English translation by George Thomas Staunton. Often transliterated today as Da Qing lüli, these are the "Laws and Precedents of the Great Qing," the law code of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which was periodically updated over their long reign. The criminal code covers a broad range of subjects, from offenses related to ritual and familial piety, to marriage, public administration, tax, property and violent crimes.   

Other items in the collection are also of note. We hold one late Qing series of bulletins on administrative law, as Yao mentioned to us, that is very rare and will require a detailed comparison to holdings in other libraries. Many other titles relate to criminal law and touch on subjects that are worth the attention of the historical researcher who can navigate them. In one example, pointed out by a visiting student, some penalties under the Qing dynasty could be reduced if the guilty party's family would suffer from a loss of livelihood. In other cases, like crimes against the state, penalties were severe, resulting in the forfeiture of family property and the execution of family members. 

After Staunton's translation of the Da Qing lüli, the next earliest titles in our collection are also among the most unique. Yao very kindly pointed these out to us during her research. The works relate to the legendary judge Bao Zheng (999-1062) and the famous administrator Hai Rui (1514-1587). Both figures have been mythologized in Chinese culture (Bao Zheng has been taken sometimes as divine). Both have also been interpreted as paragons of uncompromising justice, and as bulwarks of law against corruption. They are still portrayed today in literature, television (here, for example), cinema and other forums in China, though more innocuously than at points in the past. In the case of symbolism associated with Hai Rui, a controversial play about his career provided the spark for Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution in the 1960s.

The two works in our collection related to Bao Zheng and Hai Rui are similarly fictionalized. The first title, transliterated as Xiu Xiang Longtu Gong An (1816), are stories related to Bao Zheng, and the second, Hai Rui da Hong Pao Quan Zhuan (1813), stories about Hai Rui. In these fictitious criminal cases, well-dramatized wrongs are investigated and righted by the protagonists. Judge Bao, in particular, was and is a very popular protagonist in gong'an, or crime stories, of which our work represents an example. Somewhat like "Law & Order" today, the stories were popular among Chinese audiences under the Ming dynasty, and certainly during the Qing, when our books were published. Our titles are appropriately mass market books intended for wide distribution. The quality of printing is also appropriate for a mass market. Unusual even for more literary works in our collection, our edition of stories about Bao Zheng is illustrated with scenes from the tales. The woodblock printing required single carved blocks to create the engaging images, some of which are included below. For more on reading illustrated fiction during the period, see here.

Although modest in scope, the collection of Chinese law is diverse and interesting, and certainly worth perusal and study.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections


Monday, April 15, 2019

Tuesday, April 16: Darrow Birthday Celebration!

Come out this Tuesday, April 16, at 11 a.m., for Clarence Darrow's birthday celebration in the Law Library lobby!

Grab donuts, cake and coffee in celebration of Darrow, the great American trial lawyer, whose letters the Library holds in the Riesenfeld Center. Don't forget to take a quiz for a prize, and a selfie with a life-sized Clarence (for good luck)!

When: Tuesday, April 16th, 11 p.m - 1 p.m.

Where: Law Library Lobby
What: Donuts, cake and coffee!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

April 10: Rare Books Open House!

All are invited to the Riesenfeld Center's April rare books open house, this 
Wednesday, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! 

Come out and enjoy free snacks and drinks, and see treasures from the library's rare books and special collections. 

When: Wednesday, April 10th, 12 p.m - 3 p.m. 
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center* 
What: Rare books, cookies, snacks, and drinks! 

(*The Center is in N30, on the sub plaza past Sullivan Cafe and N20.)

Monday, March 4, 2019

Wednesday, March 6: Spring Exhibits Open House!

All are invited to the Riesenfeld Center's spring exhibits Open House, this Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.! 

The exhibits honor the career and achievements of Judge Diana E. Murphy ('74) (1934-2018) and trailblazers like her, based on the recent donation of Judge Murphy's judicial and professional papers. For more on the new exhibits, see our recent blog post.

"A Legacy Preserved: The Papers of Judge Diana E. Murphy"
"Women in the Law: Pioneers of the Courtroom"

Come out and see the exhibits, enjoy snacks and refreshments, and take a quiz for prizes! 

When: Wednesday, March 6th, 12 p.m - 4 p.m. 
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center 
What: Spring exhibits, snacks, refreshments, and a quiz for prizes!