Legal History and Rare Books SIS

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LHRB-SIS: “Top Ten (and Then One)”

When the Publications Committee of the LHRB-SIS began the selection process for our recommended list of articles we decided to follow one clear guideline - illustrate the incredible breadth and depth found in the subjects of legal history and rare books.  First we agreed to pick one article from each 10-year period of the journal, showing both the continuity and fresh thinking of 100 years of scholarship.  After that we looked for articles that sought to represent the diverse topics that live and breathe within the larger rubric of “legal history and rare books”.  We hope we have picked a wide-ranging list of articles that is not only of academic importance, but lively and engaging as well.*


The Top Ten


Chipman, Frank E.  “The Beacon Lights of the Law.”  2 (July 1909): 6-10.

Short essays on the lives of Henry Bracton and William Blackstone and their influences on English law.


Parma, Rosamond.  “The Origin, History, and Compilation of the Casebook.”  14 (1921): 14-19.

History of the casebook, from Christopher Columbus Langdell’s first texts at Harvard Law School to the American Casebook Series developed by the West Publishing Company in response to Harvard’s publication efforts.


Klapp, S. D.  “The Drama of the Law Library”.”  21 (1928): 42-47.

Describes the wealth of historical information included in texts such as Howells State Trials and the moralizing comments included by the editors in the Newgate Calendars.


Friend, W. L.  “A Survey of Anglo-American Legal Bibliography.”  33 (1940): 1-18.

Historical discussion of legal bibliographies in England and the United States from the first English bibliography in 1671.


Graham, Howard J.  “The Rastells and the Printed English Law Book of the Renaissance.”  47 (1954): 6-25.

Recounts history of John and William Rastell, lawyers, scholars, and publishers.


Klingelsmith, Margaret Center.  “Report of the Librarian on Her Trip to England and the Continent 1910.”  58 (1965): 251-69.

Recounts Klingelsmith’s travels to Europe in 1910 to purchase books for the University of Pennsylvania Biddle Law Library on the early sources of American, British colonial, and continental law.


Brock, Christine A.  “Law Libraries and Librarians – A Revisionist History; or More than You Ever Wanted to Know.”  67 (1974): 325-61.

Details the history of law libraries from their inception as private collections in the eighteenth century to their status in 1974.  Poses questions about the role of law libraries in the future.


Parrish, Jenni.  “Law Books and Legal Publishing in America, 1760-1840.”  72 (1979): 355-452.

Discusses the history of law book publishing in the United States and provides a lengthy bibliography of American law books published from 1760 to 1840.


Topoulos, Katherine.  “A Common Lawyer’s Bookshelf Recreated: An Annotated Bibliography of a Collection of Sixteenth-Century English Law Books.”  84 (1992): 641-86.

Presents a scholarly review of a sixteenth-century law library.  Based on William Rastell’s (1508-1565) library.


Hoeflich, Michael H.  “Annals of Legal Bibliography: J.G. Marvin.”  96 (2004): 333-343.

Explores the importance of Marvin’s Legal Bibliography, a milestone in the history of American legal bibliography and bookselling.


And Then One


Cohen, Morris L.  “Researching Legal History in the Digital Age.”  99 (2007): 377-393.

Professor Cohen surveys the effects of sophisticated digital research techniques and sources on research in American legal history, and in the process leads us all into the twenty-first century.


*For an exhaustive annotated bibliography of legal history and rare books articles published in the Law Library Journal, see Bibliography of Legal History Articles Appearing in Law Library Journal, Volumes 1-94 (1908-2002), 95 Law Libr. J. 217 (2003)



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