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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New Acquisitions: Clarence Darrow Collection

The Law Library’s nationally preeminent Clarence Darrow Collection has recently grown through several notable acquisitions and donations. 

The Library has acquired four volumes of Herbert Spencer’s nine-volume System of Synthetic Philosophy from an online auction held by Sotheby's. The volumes, published in 1890 and 1891, come from Clarence Darrow's personal library. Each volume features Darrow's bookplate and signature. 

Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher and political and social theorist who was enormously influential in his time. He is credited with coining the phrase “survival of the fittest” after reading Darwin. In his 1864 work, The Principles of Biology, Spencer wrote: "[t]his survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection.'" 

In his later essay, "Why I Am An Agnostic," Darrow wrote, "man has always speculated upon the origin of the universe, including himself. I feel, with Herbert Spencer, that whether the universe had an origin - and if it had - what the origin is will never be known by man." It was a good chance that we were able to acquire books that Darrow not only owned, but that he read and that influenced him. Darwin's theory of evolution was at the heart of the famous Scopes Trial in 1925, in which Darrow argued against creationism, and it formed a central part of his pessimistic philosophy. Relatively recently, we also obtained a copy of the Reply Brief and Argument for the State of Tennessee from the Scopes Trial, to complement our copy of John Scopes' lawyers' briefs.

In addition to these volumes, the Library was fortunate to acquire by donation Darrow's personal set of Illinois Reports, formerly held by a law firm in Illinois. Many of the volumes show Darrow’s name on the spine, and a number include underlining in the text.


Finally, the Library has continued to expand its collection of Darrow photographs, spanning his life and career, and has collected another series of public debates and essays that Darrow participated in and penned, particularly in the 1920s, when Darrow was at the peak of his celebrity as a public intellectual and American iconoclast.  

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections, and Mike Hannon, Associate Director for Access Services & Digital Initiatives

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Halloween, Oct 31: Special Rare Books Open House!


All are invited to the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center's special Halloween Open House, next Tuesday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! 

Come out on Halloween to see spooky treasures from our collection - including witch trials (and other sensational trials) - and pick up free snacks, drinks, and Halloween candy!

Come out in costume and get a picture on our Tumblr page!



When: Tuesday, Oct. 31st, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center
What: Rare books, snacks, drinks, candy and costumes!



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




Friday, October 20, 2017

New Donation: Everett Fraser's Books and Notebooks

Recently the Law Library and Riesenfeld Center were fortunate to receive a donation of materials owned by former Dean Everett Fraser (1879-1971). The generous donation of annotated casebooks, notebooks and other books was a gift from Hennepin County District Court Judge Thomas Fraser, son of former U.S. congressman and Minneapolis mayor Donald Fraser (‘48), Humphrey Institute Senior Fellow Emerita Arvonne Fraser, and grandson of Dean Fraser. A legendary figure, Dean Fraser led the University of Minnesota Law School to national prominence from the 1920s to 1940s, and oversaw the Law School's move from Pattee Hall to the newly constructed Fraser Hall in 1929. Dean Fraser’s focus on curriculum reform – culminating in what became known as the “Minnesota Plan” – made him a recognized authority in innovative legal education and the training of lawyers for effective client advocacy and public service. Of particular personal interest in the collection is an undergraduate notebook, from 1901-1903, containing Fraser’s “Autobiography,” a unique record of his life growing up in Canada. The donation also includes the typescript speech Dean Fraser gave at the University of Minnesota to mark the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. Like other former and current faculty members, Dean Fraser's legacy as a scholar and educator lives on in the Law Library's Faculty Collection.

More on Dean Fraser's tenure can be found in the online edition of 'Never Whisper Justice': A Tribute in Photographs to the University of Minnesota Law School, and in Professor Robert Stein's book, In Pursuit of Excellence: A History of the University of Minnesota Law School.

 - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

          




Friday, September 29, 2017

Wednesday, Oct. 4: Rare Books Open House

All are invited to the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center's first rare books open house of the semester, next Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! 

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

Best of all: enter a contest to win a Supreme Court bobblehead! (The Center has a complete collection, and some will be on display.)

When: Wednesday, October 4th, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: *Riesenfeld Rare Books Center
What: Rare books, bobbleheads, snacks and prizes!

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







Thursday, September 14, 2017

Monday, September 18: Constitution Day Donuts!

Come out and celebrate Constitution Day in the Law Library!  

Come and grab donuts and coffee, as well as a quiz about the US Constitution, for prizes.  Don't be ashamed, take a selfie with James Madison!

When: Monday, September 18th, 11 a.m - 1 p.m.
Where: Library Lobby
What: Donuts, coffee, and prizes!

We'll have on display some rare books from the collection, and a sign up for the rare books group also.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

New Acquisitions: Early US Supreme Court Cases

American law is one of the main areas of
collection in the Law Library's Riesenfeld Center, including law of the early republic, and early and separate printings of Supreme Court cases and case-related documents.

Recently we acquired several new and interesting titles related to early Supreme Court cases and issues, two of which represent key decisions of the Marshall Court. The titles and cases are below, along with several interesting features.   

The Answer and Pleas of Samuel Chase...to the Articles of Impeachment (1805). The impeachment of Justice Samuel Chase was a highly political affair, as Chase had become a target of Jefferson and the anti-federalists, who sought to remove him from the bench for his conduct as a trial judge. He was acquitted by the Senate and remains the only Supreme Court justice ever impeached. Our copy includes the rare replication and exhibits in the case.


National Intelligencer newspaper (from Saturday, March 6, 1824), featuring on the front page the first printing of John Marshall's majority opinion in the case of Gibbons v. Ogdendecided four days earlier. In this foundational Supreme Court case on the commerce clause, Thomas Gibbons challenged Aaron Ogden's monopoly right, granted by New York, to operate steamboats on its waters. Former business partners, Gibbons had been sued by Ogden for operating another steamboat line, between Elizabeth, New Jersey, and New York. Gibbons argued that interstate commerce, including navigation for the purpose of commerce, was regulated by Congress and that his right was vindicated by a 1793 federal law. In the Supreme Court, Gibbons prevailed, with important consequences for federal authority to regulate states

Opinion of the Supreme Court...in the Case of Samuel P. Worchester (1832).  Samuel Worchester and others were indicted under Georgia law for residing in "the Cherokee nation without a license." Chief Justice Marshall wrote the majority opinion, invalidating the Georgia statute that regulated citizens' relations with the Cherokee. Only the federal government and Congress had the power to enter into relations with sovereign nations, Marshall declared, of which the Cherokee was one.


Opinions of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Case of the Proprietors of Charles River Bridge (1837).  In 1785 and in 1828 Massachusetts granted charters to two bridge companies to build over the Charles River in Boston. The earlier-chartered company sued, claiming the state had broken its contract. The Marshall Court heard the case, but did not render a decision. When reargued several years later, the Taney Court sided with the second company, agreeing that the original charter should be construed narrowly and did not imply exclusive rights.  

 - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Networks and Connections: Digital Projects and British Legal History

Several weeks ago, I attended and presented at the 23rd British Legal History Conference, a biennial meeting held this year at University College London. The University and its Wilkins Building offered a wonderful venue for explorations of British legal history and for this year's conference theme, networks and connections. Amidst a busy program of stimulating papers and discussions, several presentations had connections to a digital project recently undertaken at the Riesenfeld Center. The project will create a digital site for documents relating to an extraordinary woman, Anna Petronella Woodart, an 18th-century Jamaican manumitted from slavery by her father, naturalized as a British citizen, and made heir to his estate in Jamaica and England.        

Holly Brewer, a noted scholar of early American history and the British empire, set out in her plenary lecture a persuasive argument that slavery was part of English common law from an early, formative period, and that the institution was accommodated within common law in various ways. Brewer noted the role of Charles II and his family at the head of the slave trade, suggested its importance to the English economy in the 17th century, and touched on developing slavery laws in the British colonies of the Caribbean and North America. Another paper, by Aaron Graham, focused on legislation in Jamaica from 1664-1839, while Lee Wilson treated slavery in the Atlantic world with a focus on South Carolina. Tim Soriano discussed colonial Sierra Leone - colonized in part by Jamaicans - and a number of other papers touched on colonial legal questions and issues as well.  
            
Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal
Map Center at the Boston Public Library
Our project is to create a digital site for the documents held in our collection relating to Anna Petronella Woodart, and to contextualize some aspects of her life and the period in which she lived. Although extraordinary and unusual, Anna's life sheds light on broad issues of law, society and economy in colonial Jamaica, and on networks of relations across the Atlantic world, from Kingston to Philadelphia, which were anchored in London. 

One terrific new database developed by University College London has already proven useful in understanding the slave-owning English family of the Fosters, of whom Anna was a member. The database contains the identity of all slave-owners in the British colonies at the time slavery ended and all estates in the British Caribbean colonies to 1833. It is an extremely impressive and very useful collection of relevant material, and represents a remarkable tool for researchers. The database is part of a wider initiative, the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, which opened last September and promises to shed much further light on the role of slavery in the British empire.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections