ARCHIVED: Legal History and Rare Books SIS History and Bylaws

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Virtually since the inception of AALL, members have maintained a keen interest in both legal history and the collection of rare law books. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception given to a Fall 1988 program on legal history sponsored by the Law Librarians of New England Chapter, several academic law librarians in that region began to promote the idea of forming a SIS. As stated in their formal petition to the AALL Executive Board, they sought to establish a SIS that would "provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information on rare books and legal history, including preservation issues, and other matters of pertinent interest." Though only 25 names were required for the petition, the founders submitted 130 signatures as evidence of the enthusiasm for their enterprise. On 17 June 1989, the AALL Executive Board approved the formation of the 30th AALL Special Interest Section � the Legal History and Rare Books SIS.

LHRB-SIS members retain the enthusiasm and purpose of our founding members. We contribute to rare book collection development and management, as well as legal history literature, through publications in our Newsletter of the Legal History and Rare Books SIS and other periodicals, Web site (at, program presentations at the AALL Annual Meetings, and special projects such as the Index to the American Journal of Legal History, Volumes 1-45, 1957-2001.

Recent LHRB-SIS AALL Annual Meeting programs illustrate the substantive historical knowledge and rare book expertise provided by LHRB-SIS members: Taking up the Gauntlet: The Duel in Southern Legal History (2007), Colonial Virginia�s Legal History (2006), Deadwood: the Power of Film to Teach Foundations in Native American Treaty Law and U.S. Territorial Law (2005), Creating and Maintaining Legal History Collections: Collections Development and Analysis Issues for the Law Librarian (2004), and Researching and Writing Institutional History (2003).

The LHRB-SIS is proud of its scholarly achievements and looks forward to continuing to provide a unique forum for the exchange of ideas and information on legal history and rare books librarianship. To that end, in 2008 the AALL Executive Board approved a new Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Contest, co-sponsored by LHRB-SIS and Gale Cengage Learning. We look forward to receiving the first essay submissions in 2009.

Chairs of the Section:

Erwin Surrency 1989-90
Michael G. Chiorazzi 1990-91
Nicholas Triffin 1991-92
Cynthia Arkin 1992-93
Daniel L. Wade 1993-94
Mary Cooper Gilliam/Byron Cooper 1994-95
Byron Cooper 1995-96
Gretchen Feltes 1996-97
Gretchen Feltes 1997-98
Laura Anne Bedard 1998-99
Daniel Smith 1999-00
Joel Fishman 2000-01
Katherine I. Hedin 2001-02
Kurt X. Metzmeier 2002-03
Mark Podvia 2003-04
Robert Mead 2004-05
Laura Ray 2005-07
Karen Beck 2007-09



American Association of Law Libraries




Article I: NAME

  • Section 1.
    The name of this special interest section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) shall be the Legal History and Rare Book SIS.

Article II: OBJECT

  • Section 1.
    The object of the Legal History and Rare Book SIS Special Interest Section shall be:

    1. To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information on legal history and rare books librarianship; and

    2. To represent its members' interests and concerns within AALL.

  • Section 2.
    The Section shall conduct its affairs in conformity with the Constitution and Bylaws of the American Association of Law Libraries.


  • Section 1.
    Membership shall be open to any AALL member requesting affiliation with the Legal History and Rare Book Special Interest Section as provided in the AALL Bylaws. Membership shall be renewable each year.


  • Section 1.
    There shall be an annual meeting of the Legal History and Rare Book SIS held in connection with, or during the annual meeting of AALL. The scheduling of the annual meeting during the annual meeting of AALL shall be cleared with the Convention Program Chairperson or as otherwise provided in the AALL Bylaws. Meetings shall be open to all members of the Association (AALL), but no person may vote in any meeting who is not a Section member in good standing.


  • Section 1. Officers
    The officers shall consist of a Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, and a Secretary/Treasurer.

  • Section 2. Duties of Officers
    The Chair, Vice-Chair/Chair-elect, and the Secretary/Treasurer shall perform duties usually pertaining to their respective offices, and such other duties as may be assigned by the Section's Executive Committee or membership.

  • Section 3. Terms
    The Chair and Vice-Chair/Chair-elect shall each serve one year, and the Vice-Chair shall succeed the Chair at the end of the year in which he or she serves as Vice-Chair. The Secretary/Treasurer shall serve a two-year term.

  • Section 4. Executive Committee
    There shall be an Executive Committee consisting of the officers named above and the immediate past chair.

  • Section 5. Committees
    There shall be such standing or special committees as the Executive Committee, or the membership, shall create.

  • Section 6. Vacancies
    The occurrence of a vacancy in the position of Chair shall be filled by the succession of the present Vice-Chair/Chair-elect to serve as Chair until the next scheduled election of Section officers.

    A vacancy in the office of the Vice-Chair/Chair-elect shall not be filled until the next regularly scheduled election. The Vice-Chairperson's duties shall be assumed by the current Chair or a Section member appointed by the Executive Committee. A vacancy in the office of Secretary/Treasurer shall, however, be filled by appointment of the Executive Committee.


  • Section 1.
    The Executive Board shall serve as the nominating committee. The Vice Chair/Chair-elect will serve as the Chair of the Nominating Committee.

  • Section 2.
    The Nominating Committee shall submit the names of candidates for the office of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer, together with their written acceptances, to the chairperson in sufficient time to enable the chairperson to inform the members of the Section of the nomination prior to February 1, either by publication in the AALL Newsletter, the SIS newsletter or by mail.

  • Section 3.
    In the event that the Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect cannot assume the duties of Chair and such fact is known prior to January 1, the Nominating Committee shall also submit to the current Chair of the committee the names of candidates for the office of Chair for the term of one year to appear on the ballot with the candidates for Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer. If such fact becomes known after January 1, the Executive Committee shall appoint a member of the section to serve for one year as Chair.

  • Section 4. Ballots
    The Chair of the Nominating Committee shall prepare an official ballot. The professional position of each nominee shall appear on the ballot. Space for write-in votes will be provided for on the ballot.

  • Section 5.
    The Secretary shall send the ballots to the membership by March 1.

  • Section 6. Voting.
    Ballots must be returned to the Secretary/Treasurer by April 1.

  • Section 7.
    The Secretary/Treasurer will count the ballots by April 15.

  • Section 8.
    The candidate receiving the largest number of votes for a position shall be declared elected to that position.

  • Section 9.
    In case of a tie vote, the successful candidate shall be determined by lot conducted by the Section's Executive Committee.

  • Section 10. Destruction of Ballots
    If there are no challenges to the results of the election, the ballots may be destroyed by the secretary after the annual meeting.


  • Section 1.
    These bylaws may be amended at the annual meeting of the Section, by a two-thirds vote of he members present. Any amendment so adopted shall take effect after it has been approved by the AALL Executive Board.

  • Section 2.
    Notice of proposed amendments shall be mailed to the Section's members, or be published in the Section's newsletter, 30 days in advance of the meeting.


  • Section 1.
    Robert's Rules of Order, in the latest edition, shall govern all deliberations of the Section.