Go to the U of M home page

Pages

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Rare Books and Rare Baseball Cards

Millar, An Historical View... London, 1787.
The Riesenfeld Center has been very fortunate over the holiday season to receive several wonderful gifts. These include a set of "Supreme Court Sluggers" cards that money cannot buy (at least from the manufacturer), rare books surviving in only a few copies, and an 18th-century indenture that is both decorative and historically interesting.

We are very grateful for Professor David Weissbrodt's donation of an extremely rare first edition of law professor, historian and Enlightenment philosopher John Millar's An Historical View of the English Government (London, 1787), and an expanded edition of the work. The first edition comes in its original boards with untrimmed edges, preserving its historical look, and has the autograph of a likely owner, George Botts, scrawled across the cover in a large hand. Millar was a friend of Adam Smith and professor of law at the University of Glasgow for almost forty years. Professor Weissbrodt also gifted a fine early edition of Millar's most recognized work, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks (London, 1781). Finally, we received from Weissbrodt a terrific example of a large 18th-century indenture, a contract so-called because of its jagged "teeth," by which it could be reunited (and thus legally validated) with its counterpart documents, forming an original whole.    

Our new "Supreme Court Sluggers" cards also deserve mention. Not unlike the popular Supreme Court bobbleheads (also produced by the Green Bag), the Sluggers feature Supreme Court justices past and present, printed on baseball cards. Each one comes with a quote from a decision included on a stick of "Thought Bubble Gum," and a useful tally of opinions in a stats table on back. As the Green Bag says, "We make no promises about when we will make them or who will get them. Indeed, we are avowedly and aggressively arbitrary and capricious about distribution." Fans of the bobbleheads will know that the rules are similar there. But in that case, to increase the odds of acquiring a bobblehead, the Green Bag offers a quiz -- happy hunting, and Happy Holidays and New Year!

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magna Carta is Coming!

Magna Carta. London: Robert Redman, 1539
Next year is a remarkable anniversary for Magna Carta, one of the great documents and symbols of individual rights, and the rule of law, in the world. The “Great Charter” turns 800 in 2015, and will be commemorated throughout England, America and beyond, for its enduring witness to traditions of fundamental law and constitutional rights. Great celebrations are already underway in England and here in America at the Library of Congress, which has been loaned the Lincoln Cathedral copy of Magna Carta, one of four surviving originals of King John’s charter.
 
At the Law Library we will also host a year-long exhibition devoted to the history and influence of Magna Carta, seen through the wonderful rare books collection at the Riesenfeld Center. At the heart of the exhibit will be the Library’s set of fourteen Magna Cartas printed before 1600, including several associated with notable figures – one that inspired and was owned by great abolitionist Granville Sharp, and one produced by the first woman to print books in England, Elizabeth Pickering.

Stay tuned for more: we will blog about Magna Carta during the year and digitize the exhibit as well. In the meantime, here are some resources for events and exhibits in England and the US, including the Library of Congress exhibition. A final story is on a newly (re)discovered, possibly eye-witness account of Magna Carta, which comes to light just in time for the anniversary: 






   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Roman and Canon Law

Bartolo, Commentaria, vol. 1, Venice, 1590.
For centuries, Roman and canon law were the heart of academic legal training on the European continent, and Roman law is at the foundation of civil law codes today. The Center boasts a fine collection of Roman and canon law, including several works first printed in the fifteenth century. These early titles, called incunabula (literally "swaddling clothes"), date from the "infancy" of European movable type printing. Included in our collection are commentaries by illustrious jurists, a number of important collections of consilia (or opinions on particular cases), discrete treatises, court decisions and dictionaries. Shown in the exhibit are a volume of consilia and a great illustration from the renowned medieval jurist Bartolo’s discussion of legal rights.  
    
Sigismondo Loffredo (1480-1539).  Consilia Loffredi.  Venice, 1569.
Bartolo da Sassoferrato (1313-1357).  Commentaria.  Vol. 1.  Venice, 1590.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections     


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Law and Literature

Bleak House. London, 1853
Law, literature and satire forms a cherished collection at the Library. Many titles can be found in the Barbara Steffens Hedin Alcove on Law, Literature and the Arts, on the second floor. An additional portion is held in the Riesenfeld Center, including those shown in our fall exhibit. Among other titles on display are two legal works owned by and written by the writer Vladimir Nabokov’s father, a jurist and law professor, and a first monograph edition of Dickens's Bleak House. Perhaps Dickens's greatest critique of English law and lawyers, Bleak House centers on an endless litigation in the Court of Chancery, an equity court often accused of inefficiency and mismanagement due to long proceedings. Also displayed are satires like The Pleader's Guide and George Ruggle's Ignoramus (1615). Ruggle's work, extremely successful as a university play, was itself modeled on La trappolaria (1596) of Giambattista della Porta and on Plautus. The difficult law Latin used in contemporary English courts is sent up in some of its popular scenes. In the picture below, the title character Ignoramus stands beneath a lawyer's books and the case of "Proude Buzzard contra Peake Goose."           

George Ruggle (1575-1622).  Ignoramus, comoedia.  London, 1668.
Frank Lockwood (1846-1897).  The Law and Lawyers of Pickwick: A Lecture.  London, 1894.
John Anstey (-1819).  The Pleader’s Guide: A Didactic Poem in Two Parts.  London, 1804.
Vladimir Nabokov (1870-1922).  Sbornik Stateń≠ po Ugolovnomu Pravu.  St. Petersburg, 1904.
Aleksandr Bogdanovskii (1832-1902).  Molodye Prestupniki.  St. Petersburg, 1871.  [with V. Nabokov’s bookplate.]

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Ignoramus, comedia. London, 1668.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Minnesota Law

Bill to Establish ... Washington, D.C., 1848
In time for election day, the Center is a repository for early Minnesota law before and after statehood. Minnesota was given territorial status in 1849, after a bill introduced by Lincoln’s adversary, Stephen A. Douglas (shown at left, with its original green cover).  Minnesota’s Constitutional Convention assembled less than ten years later, though Republicans and Democrats held separate conventions and refused to sign the same document, resulting in two, slightly different versions. The Debates and Proceedings shown in our current exhibit is a Republican account, while the printer of the Journal of the Constitutional Convention, also in the exhibit, is from the “Democrat office.”

Acts, Joint Resolutions and Memorials … of the Territory of Minnesota.  St. Paul, 1850.
A Bill to Establish the Territory of Minesota. Washington, D.C., 1848.
Rules for the Government of the Council of Minnesota Territory … St. Paul, 1849.
Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the Territory of Minnesota … St. Paul, 1857.
Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention … St. Paul, 1858.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween from the Riesenfeld Center!

A Tryal of Witches ... London, 1716
Just in time for Halloween, we brought out from our stacks a few historical witch trials. 

Cotton Mather's The Wonders of the Invisible World, held by the library in a nineteenth-century English edition, gives an account of the witch trials held in Salem, Massachusetts and implicitly defends his role in them. In another work, Late Memorable Providences, relating to Witchcraft and Possession (1689), Mather describes the "witchcraft" of Irish washerwoman Goody Glover, which was partly responsible for spreading the hysteria surrounding witchcraft through the colony of New England, resulting in the death of many innocent people. 


Another title is one of the most famous English witchcraft trials, by virtue of a thorough account of the presiding judge Matthew Hale. Rose Cullender and Amy Duny, two elderly widows, were indicted on thirteen counts of "malevolent" witchcraft. According to this account, respected jurist and legal scholar Hale did not doubt "That there were such Creatures as Witches ... For First, the Scriptures had affirmed so much. Secondly, The wisdom of all Nations had provided Laws against such Persons, which is an Argument of their confidence of such a Crime....And desired them, strictly to observe their Evidence; and desired the great God of Heaven to direct their Hearts in this weighty thing they had in Hand: For to Condemn the Innocent, and to let the Guilty go free, were both an Abomination to the Lord."


For images and more witch trials, see our new Tumblr site...


   - Barbara Berdahl, Special Collections Assistant Librarian

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: American Indian Law

Report of the Committee... Milledgeville, 1832
The Pulling Collection includes an extensive set of material on American Indian law, with a wide array of treaties, tribal laws and constitutions. The collection documents very well the removal of tribes to Indian Territory, and reveals some of the culture of a wide variety of tribes, seen through laws and constitutions. Taken together the collection of American Indian law captures many of the key moments in US-Indian relations between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and represents an excellent resource for research.

Report of the Committee to Whom was Referred … Milledgeville, GA, 1832.
Letter of the Cherokee Delegation to the President of the United States … Washington, D.C., 1896.
[Laws of the Cherokee Nation: Adopted by the Council at Various Periods].  Tahlequah, 1852.
Decisions of the United States Courts in Indian Territory … Washington, D.C., 1899.
Chippewa Indians in Minnesota: Letter from the Secretary of War … Washington, D.C., 1892.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: English Law

A Collection of State-Trials, London, 1735
English law was a special interest of noted law librarian Arthur C. Pulling, after whom the Rare Books Collection is named. Between 1912 and 1942, Pulling assembled one of the strongest collections of law in the United States, and one of the finest rare law collections. Pulling developed a preeminent collection of the main genres of English legal publishing, including collections of abridgements, statutes, Year Books, nominative reports, trial accounts, dictionaries and treatises. Today the Library's collection of early English law, printed between 1490 and 1599, is one of the finest in the country, featuring over half the titles found in Joseph Beale’s benchmark A Bibliography of Early English Law Books (1926). These begin with Statham’s Abridgement of Cases to the End of Henry VI (1490), one of the earliest printed works of English law. Shown in the exhibit are a volume of state trials, opened to a trial of John Lilburne, a Leveller "so-called" and early proponent (through his own trials) of defendants' rights, and a case before the House of Lords, until relatively recently England's highest court of appeal.

A Collection of State-Trials and Proceedings upon High Treason … London, 1735.
Appeal Cases [House of Lords].  London, 1814-21.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Colonial and Early State Law

Acts and Laws...Boston, 1742.
Colonial and early US state law is a particular strength within the Pulling Collection, along with items dating from the Revolution. Ranging from early and rare colonial laws to early state and territorial laws, the works shed excellent light on the formation of American government and society. Currently on display are statutes from Massachusetts and New Jersey before and during the Revolution, and a translated Siete Partidas, a medieval Spanish law code which remained partly in force in Louisiana into the nineteenth century.

Acts and Laws of His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England. Boston, 1742.
The Laws of Las Siete Partidas Which Are Still in Force in the State of Louisiana.  New Orleans, 1820.
Acts of the General Assembly of the State of New-Jersey. Trenton, 1778.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Clarence Darrow

Scopes Trial Brief, New York, 1925.
The Center holds an extraordinary collection of personal letters to and from Clarence Darrow, and collects Darrow’s works and those related to his life and career. Included in the exhibit are an eloquent letter from Helen Keller, concerning her political commitments and their conflict with her institutional duties, and warm Darrow letters to his wife Ruby and his son, Paul. A Persian Pearl, containing five Darrow essays, is shown in an inscribed, limited edition. The centerpiece is a brief from the Scopes trial, from co-counsel and ACLU general counsel Arthur Garfield Hays.

For more on Darrow, his cases and career, please see the Riesenfeld Center's award-winning Clarence Darrow Digital Collection.

Helen Keller, letter to Clarence Darrow, August 19, 1931.
Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), A Persian Pearl. And Other Essays. Aurora, NY, 1899.
Clarence Darrow, letters to Ruby Darrow, November 11, [unknown year]; and to Paul Darrow, May 7, 1922.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Jewels in the Crown: Early Modern International Law

Mare Liberum, Leiden, 1633.
The Pulling Collection offers a great showcase for key works of important contributors to early modern international law. Emerging in part from jurists like Hugo Grotius, and debates like that on the freedom of the seas, early modern international law drew from Roman and canon law, and both supported and sought to regulate an age of European conquest and globalization. Included in the exhibit is a small but famous part of the debate on the freedom of the seas. Grotius, a Dutchman, supported Dutch mercantile interests, arguing in Mare Liberum (1609) for free commercial rights to the seas. The English antiquarian Selden, and others, countered that seas could fall under national jurisdiction and ownership; this was the case with the herring-rich fishing waters off England’s coast.  

John Selden (1584-1654), Mare Clausum. In Opera Omnia, vol. 2, pt. 2.  London, 1726.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Women's Rights

Abby Smith and Her Cows, Hartford, 1877.
Women’s rights and law are highlighted in the Pulling Rare Books Collection. Although a summary of restrictive English marriage laws, A Treatise of Feme Coverts is an early work devoted solely to laws concerning women. Wollstonecraft’s famous Vindication, published shortly after her defense of natural rights, argues on Enlightenment principles for better education and greater equality.

The quest for women's rights in America, and particularly suffrage, is also represented. A rare printed speech of Sarah Winthrop Smith makes a direct argument: because all naturally-born or naturalized individuals are US citizens, and voting is a natural right of citizenship, women should be allowed to vote. The Smith sisters, Abby and Julia, gained national attention partly through the latter’s account of their travails. The sisters refused to pay local property taxes after a punitively high tax assessment, and became a celebrated case of taxation without representation.

A Treatise of Feme Coverts; or, the Lady’s Law.  London, 1732.
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. London, 1796.
Clarina Nichols (1810-1885), The Responsibilities of Woman.  A Speech by Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols, at the Woman's Rights Convention, Worcester, October 15, 1851.
Sara Winthrop Smith, Suffrage a Right of Citizenship.  An Address by Sara Winthrop Smith.  Washington, D.C., 1893. 
Julia E. Smith (1792-1896), Abby Smith and Her Cows, with a Report of the Law Case Decided Contrary to Law.  Hartford, 1877.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Jewels in the Crown: Abolitionism


The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade... New Haven, 1791
The Pulling Collection features notable books and pamphlets related to slavery and the Abolitionist Movement in the United States. Items on display include a sermon and speech by a son and grandson of theologian and minister Jonathan Edwards, advancing both moral and legal arguments against slavery. Edwards Jr. (1745-1801) was a particularly interesting figure, as a linguist who published on native American languages and opposed his noted father's slaveholding. Included are also a stirring address of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, urging vocal support for abolitionism. These and famous trial accounts contribute to a richly documented literature.

Jonathan Edwards, Jr. (1745-1801), The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade … New Haven, 1791.
Theodore Dwight (1764-1846), An Oration Spoken Before the Connecticut Society … Hartford, 1794.
The African Captives: Trial of the Prisoners of the Amistad … New York, 1839.
Matthew Franklin (1773-1815), Address of the American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery … Philadelphia, 1804.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), Free Speech. 1861.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Jewels in the Crown: Classics

The Riesenfeld Center's current exhibit, "Jewels in the Crown: Highlights from the Arthur C. Pulling Rare Books Collection," offers an overview of collection strengths and individual gems from more than 25,000 volumes that comprise the Pulling Collection.  Significantly developed by Arthur C. Pulling, the Law Library's director from 1912 to 1942, the Collection has a number of strengths, including English law, colonial and early American law, territorial and US state law, letters and works by and about Clarence Darrow, American Indian law, early international law, and Roman and canon law.  Selections from these and more are on display.

Magna Carta.  London, 1531
Among classic works of English and American law, the exhibit features an annotated Year Book from the reign of Edward IV (1461-83), one of the early English case reports and a hallmark of the Anglo-American legal system.  Also on display are an early printed Magna Carta (the Center holds fourteen editions of Magna Carta printed before 1600), key Congressional laws, including the first US session laws, and Thomas Paine's widely read spur to the Revolution, Common Sense.

Magna Carta. London, 1531.
De termino Michaelis anno. XV. regni Regis Edwardi Quarti. London, 1572.
William Blackstone (1723-1780), Commentaries on the Laws of England. Vol. 1. Dublin, 1766.
Journal of the Proceedings of the Congress ... London, 1775.
Thomas Paine (1737-1809), Common Sense. Philadelphia, 1776.
Acts passed at a Congress of the United States of America, begun and held at the city of New-York, on Wednesday, the fourth of March … New-York, 1789.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections


Monday, September 22, 2014

New Exhibit at the Riesenfeld Center

The Riesenfeld Center has a new fall exhibit on display!  The exhibit, open Monday through Friday, 9am - 4:30pm, offers highlights and, we hope, a good introduction to the Law Library's rare books collection.  Please stop by to see it:

Jewels in the Crown: Highlights from the Arthur C. Pulling Rare Books Collection

Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center
University of Minnesota Law Library
September 15 – December 15, 2014
9 am – 4:30pm

The Pulling Rare Books Collection, one of the outstanding collections of rare legal texts in North America, features a wide array of treasures.  Ranging from early printed Magna Cartas to an edition of Thomas Paine's Common Sense, and from Cherokee laws in the vernacular to fascinating letters to and from Clarence Darrow, this exhibit showcases the strengths of the Pulling Collection and Riesenfeld Center, in light of historical and current collection areas.  

For more about exhibit items, as well as other highlights and news from the Pulling Collection, please stay tuned to this blog.

The fall exhibit is on display in the Riesenfeld Center, on the sub-plaza level of the University of Minnesota Law School, and will run until December 15th.  For more information or directions, please contact Ryan Greenwood (rgreenwo@umn.edu; 612-625-7323).

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Welcome to the Blog of the Riesenfeld Center!

Welcome to the blog of the Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center!  The Stefan A. Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center at the University of Minnesota Law Library houses the Pulling Rare Books Collection, one of the outstanding collections of rare law books in the country, and the University of Minnesota Law School Archives.  It also supports an active program of exhibitions, outreach and teaching.  For more about the Center and its collections, as well as hours, policies and other visitor information, please see our current website, and the new information we will add in the coming weeks.

We'll use this blog to highlight some of the great collection items at the Center, from early printed books to manuscript letters, photographs and other images.  Please stay tuned for interesting events, exhibits and acquisitions as well.

As a first note related to our collections, the background wallpaper for the blog might be a stiff challenge to identify, even with the help of  Google.  The fragmentary text is from the entry on ‘equity,’ in great English legal scholar and antiquarian John Selden’s Table-Talk.  The Center holds the lively and often amusing compendium of Selden's opinions in a second edition.  We think his brief, topical insights aren't too different from those of a modern blog!

For help in updating the website and for blog advice a special thanks goes to Ellen Qualey, the Law Library’s Emerging Technologies Librarian and terrific blogger.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections