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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Wednesday, February 1: Rare Books Open House!

Come out to the Riesenfeld Center's first rare books open house of the semester, this Wednesday, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.!

Enjoy snacks and drinks, and see treasures from the library's rare books and special collections. 

When: Wednesday, February 1, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center*
What: Rare books, bagged snacks and treats, Valentine's candy, and refreshments!

(*The Riesenfeld Center is in N30, on the subplaza past Student Orgs. in N20.) 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Rare Books Collection: Clarence Darrow's Books and Library

The Law Library and Riesenfeld Center's Clarence Darrow Collection features more than a thousand letters to and from the great American trial attorney. It has also grown recently through the acquisition of significant books from Darrow's personal library, and several owned by close family members. The books augment the extensive printed material related to Darrow's legal cases, speeches, debates, and other writings that round out the collection. A number of the new items have been inscribed by Darrow, or inscribed to Darrow by friends and associates. The books, bookplates, and inscriptions tell us more about what Darrow owned and read, and shed light on some of the volumes and people he cherished.

Darrow was the nation's leading criminal defense attorney in the early 20th century and he remains today the most famous American trial lawyer. His memorable courtroom arguments, speeches, and eloquent, "country lawyer" rhetoric won him fame and saved the lives of a long series of criminal defendants. His courtroom rhetoric was often imbued by his pessimistic philosophy, along with a belief in compassion as the reasonable response to human frailty. The same views were distilled in key works for popular audiences. They can be found in his early volume, A Persian Pearl, a collection of literary essays and his first book-length publication; Farmington, a semi-autobiographical novel about growing up; An Eye for an Eye, his second novel, treating poverty and crime; and The Story of My Life, his mature autobiography. In addition to these are more minor works, including A Skeleton in the Closet, which have supplied some of Darrow's most quotable lines.
Typical of authors, Darrow signed and inscribed copies of these works, often for friends and fairly well-known associates. Darrow's library also contained works of friends and associates who personalized and sent him their publications. Among the recently acquired books are inscribed volumes of poetry, in particular, that suggest Darrow's own literary ambitions and the kind of critical, socially-oriented poetry that he preferred. Of special interest among the volumes is a first edition of A Persian Pearl, inscribed by Darrow to his first wife, Jessie Ohl Darrow. Though comparatively little is known about their relationship, in the inscription, written two years after the marriage ended, Darrow calls Jessie "his best friend," suggesting an enduring warmth as they continued to care for their son, Paul. Another family heirloom is inscribed fondly by Jessie to Paul, and another of Paul's books is inscribed by Darrow's father, Ammirus.
Together the books from Darrow's library and family members enrich the Library's Darrow Collection and cast more light on his personal life and relationships.  
   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections


Thursday, December 8, 2022

Finals Study Break: Monday, December 12!

Come out next Monday, December 12, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., for a study break during finals! 

Grab some coffee and freshly-baked donuts outside the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center in N30.  The Rare Books Center is on the subplaza, at the end of the hallway past Student Orgs in N20.

When: Monday, December 12, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Outside the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30, subplaza level). 
What: Coffee and donuts!

Good luck on finals, and best wishes for the holidays from the Law Library!



Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Rare Books Collection: Native American Law

The Law Library and Riesenfeld Center holds an excellent collection of law related to Native Americans, recording a difficult, complex, and very important legal, political, and to some extent social history. Among other material, the collection contains a wide selection of treaties from the nineteenth century. Included in these are an 1829 treaty between the United States and the Ojibwe, Menomonie, and Winnebago, and an 1863 treaty concluded with the Nez Perce, the last treaty agreed between an American Indian tribe and the federal government. There are also extensive printed communications between various tribes and the U.S. government regarding land and rights, and nineteenth- and twentieth-century laws and constitutions of diverse Native American nations. Association reports, investigations, hearings, and other descriptions of legal relations round out the material. Below are two items in particular that are special treasures for their outstanding historical significance.
[Laws of the Cherokee Nation: Adopted by the Council at Various Times (1839–1851)]. [Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation: Damaga Publisher, 1852].

This extremely rare collection of laws, pictured at left, was published at Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation’s capital. The laws are printed in the Cherokee language, using a syllabary adopted by the Nation in 1825. Joseph Blackbird and Hercules Martin compiled the laws in Cherokee. The printers were John Candy and Mark Tyger. As in some family Bibles, a handwritten list of one generation of the Fodder family appears here. One family member, Sequoyah, was likely named after the founder of the Cherokee writing system. The book’s significance extends to aspects of familial, linguistic, and tribal identity.
Constitution of the State of Sequoyah
. Muskogee, Indian Territory: Phoenix Printing Co., 1905.

In 1890, Congress created Oklahoma Territory from the western part of Indian Territory. In the same period, the federal Dawes Act (1887) and Curtis Act (1898) aimed to end communal tribal landholding and jurisdiction. In response, the Five Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole) and others attempted to create a new American state, named Sequoyah after the founder of the Cherokee writing system, to retain control of their Oklahoma lands. A constitution was drafted in 1905, with a Bill of Rights that reflected provisions of the federal Bill of Rights. The proposal was not considered by Congress but the document provided a foundation for Oklahoma’s constitution. This sole edition of Sequoyah’s constitution includes a vivid map of its territory and counties.
   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Thursday, October 27: Halloween Open House!

Come out to the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center's special Halloween Open House on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! 

Stop by to see spooky treasures from our collection - including witch trials, murder trials, a macabre torture manual, and other sensational works - and pick up snacks, drinks, and Halloween candy!

Come out in costume - we're happy to post pics on our Tumblr site!

When: Thursday, Oct. 27th, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center
What: Rare books, snacks, drinks, candy (and costumes)!

(The Center is in N30, on the subplaza past Student Orgs. in N20.)




Thursday, October 6, 2022

Wednesday, October 12: Rare Books Open House!

Come out to the Riesenfeld Center's first monthly open house of the year on Wednesday, October 12, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.!

Enjoy snacks and drinks, and see treasures from the library's rare books and special collections.

When: Wednesday, October 12, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.
Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center*
What: Rare books, bagged snacks, cookies, and refreshments!

(*The Riesenfeld Center is in N30, on the subplaza past Student Orgs. in N20.)  


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Thursday, Oct. 13: Book Talk by Professor John Bessler

Join the Human Rights Center and Riesenfeld Rare Books Center for a book talk with Professor John Bessler (U. Baltimore). Bessler will discuss his new book, Private Prosecution in America: Its Origins, History, and Unconstitutionality in the Twenty-First Century (2022), the first comprehensive and historical examination of a practice that dates to the colonial era. In Private Prosecution in America, Bessler shows how private prosecutors—acting on their own behalf, as next of kin, or through retained counsel—have initiated and handled prosecutions and sought the punishment of offenders, including in capital cases.

Private prosecution is still with us today. After reviewing current state laws and locales that continue to allow private prosecutions by interested parties, Bessler makes the case that such prosecutions violate defendants' constitutional rights and should be outlawed. This talk will give an overview of the arguments and stimulate discussion on an important and ongoing issue relating to the due process rights of defendants.
"What Process Is Due? The History and Use of Private Prosecutions in American States, and an Exploration of Constitutional Rights and the Contours of Due Process"

Thursday, October 13
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Mondale Hall, Ballard Spahr Conference Room (3rd floor)

Professor John Bessler has taught at the University of Baltimore School of Law since 2009, becoming a tenured faculty member in 2014. He has also taught at the University of Minnesota Law School, the George Washington University Law School, the Georgetown University Law Center, Rutgers School of Law, and the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. He has written or edited eleven books, ranging from the history of capital punishment, to an intellectual biography of Cesare Beccaria, to the craft of writing. His books have received numerous awards, including the Scribes Book Award for The Birth of American Law: An Italian Philosopher and the American Revolution (Carolina Academic Press, 2014).

1 standard CLE Credit has been requested

A reception will follow the lecture in the Ballard Spahr Conference Room

If you are unable to attend in-person, a video recording will be available following the event.