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Thursday, September 17, 2015

New Digital Exhibit: "Magna Carta, 800 Years: Rights and the Rule of Law"

To mark Constitution Day, and in celebration of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the University of Minnesota Law Library has digitized its year-long exhibit, "Magna Carta, 800 Years: Rights and the Rule of Law." In addition, the digital site features a virtual showcase for the Library's collection of early printed editions of Magna Carta, the earliest of which dates to 1514. Drawn from the treasures of the Library's Arthur C. Pulling Rare Books Collection, the exhibit includes over seventy-five works that reflect and illuminate the deep influence of Magna Carta on the Anglo-American legal tradition.

Viewed through cases, texts and ideas that were shaped by Magna Carta, the exhibit traces the document's impact on the development of rights and the rule of law in England and early America, and its emergence on a global stage. Through the exhibit visitors are invited to explore the history, challenges and promise of Magna Carta, rights and the rule of law, in its first eight hundred years.

The digital exhibit was designed and curated by Glen Anderson, Barbara Berdahl, Patrick Graybill and Ryan Greenwood.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

New Rare Acquisitions!

Hayward's Confession (Minneapolis, 1895)

The Riesenfeld Center has recently been fortunate to acquire several new titles for its rare books collection. Among these are three titles generously donated by Mr. William Whitlock, which include a contemporary account of the trial of Charles I, an account of the Parliament in the crucial years leading to the English Civil War, and Whitelockes Notes Uppon the Kings Writt, 2 vols. (London, 1766). The titles all bear on the conflicts between Parliament and king in tumultuous 17th-century England, and the constitutional ideas that animated them.  The volumes are terrific additions to the collection, particularly as we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and recall the importance of the same conflicts for the rebirth of Magna Carta as a political document in the 17th-century.

Hayward's Confession joins a large collection of trials, often sensationalistic and printed for a mass audience, held at the Center. Hayward's case is interesting not only as a murder case but a local one: in 1895 Harry Hayward was convicted of murder in Minneapolis, and the trial and verdict were closely followed. Our rare account, printed as a supplement to the Minneapolis Times, represents the convicted man's final confession.  For more, and more images, see our recent Tumblr post.

Another item falls into the category of legal humor. Lawyers and the law are perennial subjects of satire, as a number of titles in our law and literature collection attest. The Law and Lawyers Laid Open (London, 1737), joins this venerable tradition. Closely related to works on law reform, the volume takes the form of a series of humorous dialogues and visions about lawyers' ethics and sharp practices.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections