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Thursday, February 22, 2018

UMN Crowdsourcing Project to Decipher Supremes' Notes

very interesting project has recently gotten underway that seeks to crowdsource the transcription of Supreme Court Justices' handwritten notes. SCOTUS Notes seeks to transcribe "a collection of 12,600 pages of notes taken by Justices Harry A. Blackmun and William J. Brennan. This extraordinarily rare collection of papers housed at the Library of Congress provides insights into the Court’s conference in cases decided between 1959 and 1994 with overlapping notes taken by Blackmun and Brennan between 1970 and 1990." As interesting, the project was developed in part by Timothy Johnson, a political science professor at the U, using the Zooniverse platform, also pioneered at the University of Minnesota.  

You too can join in the transcription fun!




Friday, February 9, 2018

Exhibit Open House: Weds., February 14

All are invited to an open house next Wednesday, February 14, for the Law Library's 2018 spring exhibit:

"A Foundation in the Law: Celebrating 40 Years at Walter F. Mondale Hall"

Open House: Wednesday, February 14, 2018
                         12 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
                         Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30, Sub-plaza)

                         Snacks and refreshments will be served.


This year marks the 40th anniversary of Walter F. Mondale Hall and gives occasion to celebrate the rich tradition of legal education that thrives within its walls. Dedicated in the spring of 1978, the Law School building and the vision behind it have provided the foundation for numerous achievements in the past four decades. During this time, the growth and diversification of the student body and faculty, the inception of new student programs and journals, the growth of the library, and the development of the Law School's clinics, centers and institutes, among other achievements, have contributed in transformative ways to the life of the Law School and its success.

In 2001, with the completion of a major addition, the Law School building was rededicated as Walter F. Mondale Hall, in honor of the Law School's most illustrious graduate and great friend, The Honorable Walter Mondale ('56). The expansion added new spaces for research, teaching, student activities and library collections, in support of the Law School's tradition of advancing and applying challenging, important ideas at the forefront of legal education. This tradition, both practical and theoretical, guided the architects of the project from its early stages, just as it animates the Law School's commitments to education, justice and service today.

This exhibit, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Walter F. Mondale Hall, highlights the development of plans for a new Law School building and its 2001 addition, and pays tribute in photographs to Walter Mondale and his deep involvement in the life of the Law School.

The exhibit was created by Ian Moret, Patrick Graybill and Ryan Greenwood.

The exhibit will be open for viewing in the Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center from February 14 through June 8, 2017. For more information or directions, please contact Ryan Greenwood (rgreenwo@umn.edu; 612-625-7323).



Friday, February 2, 2018

Wednesday, Feb. 7: Rare Books Open House!

All are invited to the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center's first rare books open house of the semester, next Wednesday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.! 

Come out and enjoy free cookies, snacks and drinks, and see treasures from the library's rare books collection - along with gems from the archives on the history of the Law School.


When: Wednesday, February 7th, 12 p.m - 3 p.m.

Where: Riesenfeld Rare Books Center
What: Rare books, drinks, cookies and snacks!

*The Riesenfeld Center is in room N30 on the Sub-Plaza, down past Sullivan Cafe.




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

9th Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition

The Legal History and Rare Books (LH&RB) Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the Ninth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohenlate Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School, a leading scholar in legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography.

Essays may be submitted on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting. 

The purpose of the competition is to encourage scholarship in the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and acquaint student with the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and law librarianship. 

Winning and runner-up entries will be invited to submit their entries to Unbound, the official journal of LH&RB. Past winning essays have gone on to be accepted by journals such as N.Y.U. Law ReviewAmerican Journal of Legal HistoryUniversity of South Florida Law ReviewWilliam & Mary Journal of Women and the LawYale Journal of Law & the Humanities, and French Historical Review.

The entry form and instructions are available online at the AALL website: www.aallnet.org/sections/lhrb/awards 

Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m.April 16, 2018 (EDT).

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary (’77) Donates Papers from Landmark SCOTUS Case to Law Library

The Law Library and Riesenfeld Rare Books Center recently received an important archival donation from Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary (’77) of the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The donated material relates to R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), a key U.S. Supreme Court First Amendment case—indeed, the first hate speech case ever heard by the court. Cleary, who argued the case from the trial level to the Supreme Court, has generously gifted the library his copies of the petitions, transcripts, briefs, and correspondence related to the case, for preservation and study. The donated collection also includes the annotated typescript and proofs of Cleary’s book Beyond the Burning Cross: The First Amendment and the Landmark R.A.V. Case (Random House, 1994).

R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul revolved around the case of a teenager (known in court documents only as R.A.V. and represented by Cleary as an appointed public defender) who was charged under a St. Paul bias-crime ordinance for burning a cross on an African American family’s lawn. The charge was dismissed by the trial court, reinstated by the Minnesota Supreme Court, and ultimately dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a unanimous decision. Under the First Amendment, a government entity may not punish expression on the grounds that it does not approve of the ideas being expressed. In the R.A.V. case, SCOTUS said the St. Paul ordinance could not be enforced because it “prohibits otherwise permitted speech solely on the basis of the subjects the speech addresses.” R.A.V. is the most-cited SCOTUS opinion to come from a case originating in Minnesota in the state’s history. 

At the dinner commemorating the Law School’s 125th anniversary in October 2013, R.A.V. was honored—having been chosen from among 150 cases worked by Law School alumni—as the case that had most helped to shape the legal system. Other Minnesota Law graduates were involved in the case, as well. Michael Cromett (’78) was of counsel to Cleary. Tom Foley (’72) was Ramsey County attorney at the time and represented the appellant at the Minnesota Supreme Court; Foley was also the respondent in the SCOTUS case. Judge Charles Flinn (’65) presided in the juvenile court where R.A.V. first appeared with Cleary. Allen Saeks (’56) joined the amicus curiae briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and represented the Anti-Defamation League. A number of other Law School alumni and professors were involved in the amicus briefs that were filed in support of one side or the other.

Cleary was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Minnesota Gov. Dayton in 2011, after having served as a judge for the state’s 2nd Judicial District (Ramsey County) since 2002. Before that he was director of the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (1997-2002), a lawyer in private practice for nearly 20 years, and an assistant public defender for Ramsey County. In 1996, Beyond the Burning Cross was named the winner of the American Library Association’s Oboler Memorial Award, which honors the nation’s best work on intellectual freedom.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Finals Study Break: Wednesday, Dec. 13

Come out next Wednesday for a study break during finals!  Grab coffee and tasty fresh-baked donuts outside the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center.

When: Wednesday, December 13, 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Where: Outside the Riesenfeld Rare Books Center (N30 - on the sub-plaza past Sullivan Cafe)
What: Coffee and donuts!

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


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

New Acquisitions: Clarence Darrow Collection

The Law Library’s nationally preeminent Clarence Darrow Collection has recently grown through several notable acquisitions and donations. 

The Library has acquired four volumes of Herbert Spencer’s nine-volume System of Synthetic Philosophy from an online auction held by Sotheby's. The volumes, published in 1890 and 1891, come from Clarence Darrow's personal library. Each volume features Darrow's bookplate and signature. 

Spencer (1820-1903) was an English philosopher and political and social theorist who was enormously influential in his time. He is credited with coining the phrase “survival of the fittest” after reading Darwin. In his 1864 work, The Principles of Biology, Spencer wrote: "[t]his survival of the fittest, which I have here sought to express in mechanical terms, is that which Mr. Darwin has called 'natural selection.'" 

In his later essay, "Why I Am An Agnostic," Darrow wrote, "man has always speculated upon the origin of the universe, including himself. I feel, with Herbert Spencer, that whether the universe had an origin - and if it had - what the origin is will never be known by man." It was a good chance that we were able to acquire books that Darrow not only owned, but that he read and that influenced him. Darwin's theory of evolution was at the heart of the famous Scopes Trial in 1925, in which Darrow argued against creationism, and it formed a central part of his pessimistic philosophy. Relatively recently, we also obtained a copy of the Reply Brief and Argument for the State of Tennessee from the Scopes Trial, to complement our copy of John Scopes' lawyers' briefs.

In addition to these volumes, the Library was fortunate to acquire by donation Darrow's personal set of Illinois Reports, formerly held by a law firm in Illinois. Many of the volumes show Darrow’s name on the spine, and a number include underlining in the text.


Finally, the Library has continued to expand its collection of Darrow photographs, spanning his life and career, and has collected another series of public debates and essays that Darrow participated in and penned, particularly in the 1920s, when Darrow was at the peak of his celebrity as a public intellectual and American iconoclast.  

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections, and Mike Hannon, Associate Director for Access Services & Digital Initiatives