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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Networks and Connections: Digital Projects and British Legal History

Several weeks ago, I attended and presented at the 23rd British Legal History Conference, a biennial meeting held this year at University College London. The University and its Wilkins Building offered a wonderful venue for explorations of British legal history and for this year's conference theme, networks and connections. Amidst a busy program of stimulating papers and discussions, several presentations had connections to a digital project recently undertaken at the Riesenfeld Center. The project will create a digital site for documents relating to an extraordinary woman, Anna Petronella Woodart, an 18th-century Jamaican manumitted from slavery by her father, naturalized as a British citizen, and made heir to his estate in Jamaica and England.        

Holly Brewer, a noted scholar of early American history and the British empire, set out in her plenary lecture a persuasive argument that slavery was part of English common law from an early, formative period, and that the institution was accommodated within common law in various ways. Brewer noted the role of Charles II and his family at the head of the slave trade, suggested its importance to the English economy in the 17th century, and touched on developing slavery laws in the British colonies of the Caribbean and North America. Another paper, by Aaron Graham, focused on legislation in Jamaica from 1664-1839, while Lee Wilson treated slavery in the Atlantic world with a focus on South Carolina. Tim Soriano discussed colonial Sierra Leone - colonized in part by Jamaicans - and a number of other papers touched on colonial legal questions and issues as well.  
Map reproduction courtesy of the Norman B. Leventhal
Map Center at the Boston Public Library
Our project is to create a digital site for the documents held in our collection relating to Anna Petronella Woodart, and to contextualize some aspects of her life and the period in which she lived. Although extraordinary and unusual, Anna's life sheds light on broad issues of law, society and economy in colonial Jamaica, and on networks of relations across the Atlantic world, from Kingston to Philadelphia, which were anchored in London. 

One terrific new database developed by University College London has already proven useful in understanding the slave-owning English family of the Fosters, of whom Anna was a member. The database contains the identity of all slave-owners in the British colonies at the time slavery ended and all estates in the British Caribbean colonies to 1833. It is an extremely impressive and very useful collection of relevant material, and represents a remarkable tool for researchers. The database is part of a wider initiative, the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership, which opened last September and promises to shed much further light on the role of slavery in the British empire.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections


A Visit Abroad: Middle Temple Library

A view of Middle Temple Library
During the recent British Legal History Conference, I had the good opportunity of a tour at Middle Temple Library, courtesy of Bernadette Keeley, an expert guide and the librarian for the Library's UK and US collections. 

A private library for the barristers of Middle Temple - one of the historic Inns of Court in London - Middle Temple Library also contains a terrific rare books collection, including over 9,000 printed volumes and 300 manuscripts. The nucleus of the rare collection was formed from the library of Robert Ashley (1565–1641), through a bequest in his will. The Library itself was built in 1650 and escaped the Fire of London in 1666. Its early collection is recorded in print in the Bibliotheca Illustris Medii Templi Societis (London, 1700). The extent of the current collection, rare and modern, is cataloged and accessible online.  

Among standout treasures in the rare collection are the first printed English law book, the Abbreviamentum statutorum, printed 1481/82 by Machlinia and Lettou, and a manuscript copy of draft Parliamentary acts from 1652 and 1653. Beyond the rare collection, the historic Middle Temple Hall, dating to 1562, is another treasure, and the hallways leading to it feature famous portraits of Temple members, including William Blackstone.        

Today, head librarian Renae Satterley oversees a busy modern library as well as the rare books collection that provided service to the young barristers educated there centuries ago. One of the Library's recent projects was the digitization of the Treasurer's Receipt Books, from 1800-1922, and the Library has used their archives to connect barristers to the rich history of their society. 
There is currently also an excellent rare books exhibit on display, "Disagreeing Badly: Religious Dispute in Early Modern Europe," curated by Dr. Stefan Bauer and Bethany Hume of the University of York. The exhibition highlights collection items from the "age of confessional polemic," the 16th and 17th centuries, including the first vernacular translation of the Quran. In a surprising (and wonderful) connection to the University of Minnesota, the exhibit text was adapted from a text by University of Minnesota English Professor Nabil Matar.

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections 


Monday, June 5, 2017

The Hermann Kantorowicz Collection at the UMN Law Library

Hermann Kantorowicz (1877-1940)
The University of Minnesota Law Library and Riesenfeld Rare Books Center are pleased to announce the creation of the Hermann Kantorowicz Collection, a significant collection of books and articles formerly owned by Hermann Kantorowicz (1877-1940), one of the twentieth century’s most eminent legal scholars. Comprising over 1,850 titles from the sixteenth through twentieth centuries, the Kantorowicz Collection includes notable early modern works, and rare and important scholarship on medieval law, jurisprudence, criminal law and German constitutional law, among other fields. Previously dispersed throughout the Law Library’s collections, Kantorowicz’s library has recently been identified and organized into a discrete collection in the Riesenfeld Center. 

A jurist of the highest stature, Hermann Kantorowicz reflected on some of the most important legal and political questions of his time. Born in Poznan, Germany, in 1877, Kantorowicz studied law at the University of Berlin, where he was influenced by Franz von Liszt and Emil Seckel. A noted early work was a historical study of criminal law, which drew on his expertise in the medieval jus commune, a central area of research over his career. In 1906, under the pseudonym Gneaus Flavius, Kantorowicz published one of the fundamental works of jurisprudence in the 20th century, Der Kampf um die Rechtswissenschaft. As a critique of both natural law theory and excessive formalism in the application of law, the treatise articulated a far-reaching view, that a more ‘free’ judicial interpretation was required to fill unavoidable lacunae in the written law. The work was called the foundation of the Free Law movement in Germany by fellow legal giant Gustav Radbruch, and prefigured the development of legal realism, perhaps the most influential school of legal interpretation in the US in the first half of the last century. 

Kantorowicz was known as an outspoken law professor at Freiburg and then Kiel, where he was removed from his post in 1933 by the Nazi government. Neither his Jewish heritage nor his political views would have allowed him to remain safely, and in the same year Kantorowicz moved to England with his family. After a short period of teaching in the United States, he returned to teach at Cambridge and the London School of Economics; between 1934 and his death in 1940, Kantorowicz taught primarily legal history at Oxford and Cambridge. Over a productive career, he published numerous works in German and also some influential work in English. With his important contributions, particularly to the fields of jurisprudence, legal history and criminal law, Kantorowicz remains a towering legal figure of the twentieth century.  

The Kantorowicz Collection sheds particular light on the scholars and works with which Kantorowicz was engaged, as well as his own work, published during his career in Germany and in England. Highlights include Kantorowicz’s own annotated copy of Der Kampf um die Rechtswissenschaft (1906), his key contribution to jurisprudence; manuscript lecture notes from the mid-nineteenth century, inscribed to Kantorowicz by his friend Gustav Radbruch; Kantorowicz’s marked (underlined) copy of Grotius’s seminal De jure belli ac pacis (1651); and marked and unmarked copies of a broad range of important scholarship, with a focus on medieval Roman and canon law, the theory and practice of criminal law, and the philosophy of law. Other items stand on their own, including a first edition of Hegel’s Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts (1821), and a manuscript of student notes on Savigny’s lectures on the Pandects. Taken together, the Kantorowicz library is a valuable resource for study.

The Kantorowicz Collection is available for consultation in the Law Library’s Riesenfeld Center, and the titles in the collection can be viewed and downloaded here:


For further information or an appointment for research, please contact Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections (rgreenwo@umn.edu; 612-625-7323).

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

The Hermann Kantorowicz Collection – History

The new Hermann Kantorowicz Collection at the Riesenfeld Center has an interesting, though not entirely known, history. The titles that form the collection were purchased in 1941, originally from Hermann Kantorowicz’s widow, Hilda, after the eminent jurist passed away in England in 1940. At the time, the more contemporary titles were dispersed in the Law Library's general circulating collection, usually with a bookplate to identify their origin. The books judged rare and special, ranging from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries, were separated and later became part of the Arthur C. Pulling Rare Books Collection in the Riesenfeld Center. Correspondence from 2002 between Hermann Kantorowicz’s son, Frank, and Katherine Hedin, my predecessor, alerted me to the extent of our Kantorowicz material, and we decided to reunite the collection for better preservation and access. 

The project to assemble the Kantorowicz library was carried out by our colleague and collections expert extraordinaire, Ingrid Miza, and a student worker, Amanda Aho. Some Kantorowicz titles were identified based on notes in our catalog records, but Ingrid often relied on the more recondite art of recognizing likely bindings, subject areas and titles among works in the general collection. She also carefully deciphered handwritten entries in the original accession books, which contain the itemized purchase records from 1941. Identified items were checked for their Kantorowicz bookplates, and their accession numbers were matched to the accession records. Many of the titles were not represented in our catalog—or, in some cases, in WorldCat—and our rare books cataloger, Sarah Yates, did a wonderful job to catalog these. The collection was then
transferred to our closed Riesenfeld Center stacks. The nineteenth- and twentieth-century titles now reside largely in one aisle, and sixteenth- through eighteenth-century books have been kept in their existing rare books collections.

The question of why the books came to the UMN Law Library does not have a clear answer, though some guesses can be made. The correspondence from Kantorowicz’s son indicates that Hilda Kantorowicz first offered the titles for sale to Harvard Law Library. What Harvard did not want, according to Mr. Kantorowicz, was sold on to the University of Minnesota Law Library. My colleague Karen Beck at Harvard Law Library very kindly passed on copies of their relevant accession records, confirming that Harvard did purchase titles from Kantorowicz’s library about the same time in 1941. Harvard only purchased about 200 items, probably because their library already had copies of the remaining material. The
University of Minnesota Law Library director at the time, Arthur Pulling, had come from Harvard in 1912 and was responsible for building the library into a nationally significant research collection. When he departed in 1942, he returned to Harvard to become the law library director. It seems likely that his connections account for Minnesota receiving second consideration for the books. The developing collections of foreign and international law, as well as rare books, benefitted richly from the acquisition.

In addition to the collections of largely printed Kantorowicz material at the University of Minnesota Law Library, and at Harvard Law Library, there is also a collection - including the manuscript of Der Kampf um die Rechtswissenschaft - housed in the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. The bulk of Kantorowicz’s papers can be found at the University of Freiburg in Germany, and an important center for research in law, legal history and theory that bears the jurist's name is the Hermann Kantorowicz Institute at the University of Kiel.

For more on Kantorowicz, his work and his career, see the excellent chapter by David Ibbetson, "Hermann Kantorowicz (1877-1940) and Walter Ullmann (1910-1983)," in Jurists Uprooted: German-Speaking Emigre Lawyers in Twentieth-century Britain, ed. J. Beaton and R. Zimmermann (Oxford, 2004), 269-98; and the online biographical tribute to his father by Tom Carter.   

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections

Friday, May 19, 2017

Colonial New York Laws: David Gardiner, Eius Liber (1726)

(The following guest post is by our colleague Claire Stuckey, who has been doing terrific work to catalog our rare state law collection.  Some of these rare volumes date to the early colonial period, while others cover early state laws for those that achieved statehood later.) 

While cataloging a book for our rare collection, I found a bookplate and an inscription that led me to do some investigating, and I discovered a fascinating back story. I can’t confirm that the story is definitely related to the book we own, but it seems quite likely and is worth sharing.

The book in question is Actsof Assembly Passed in the Province of New-York, from 1691, to 1725, printed and sold by William Bradford, printer to the King’s most Excellent Majesty for the province of New-York, in 1726.  Bradford was the first printer in New York, and one of the earliest in the American colonies.  Benjamin Franklin sought employment from him, and an apprentice in his shop was John Peter Zenger.

At the front of this important volume of New York laws is an interesting bookplate. Although I was not able to identify the family crest as from the Gardiner family (discussed below), a single lion depicted on it may indicate Scotland. Sub cruce salus, the motto on the crest, is Latin for “salvation under the cross.” If anyone is able to discover more information on this crest, I would be very interested!

I had better luck with an inscription in the book: “David Gardiner, Ejus Liber 1726.” (Ejus liber means his book in Latin.) The date of the inscription, and the fact that the book is of New York laws, would fit with the book being the former property of a notable New York landholder, David Gardiner (1691-1751). The abbreviation, Esq., follows his name on his tombstone. According to a genealogical site, he was said to be a gentleman; a good farmer who kept about two hundred head of cattle, forty horses, and three thousand sheep; and a hunter who supposedly killed 365 wild ducks and sixty-five wild geese in one year. Most interestingly, he was the fourth proprietor of Gardiner’s Island and the first to be buried there.

Gardiner’s Island is a small island off of East Hampton, New York, which was granted in 1639 by King Charles I to David’s great-grandfather, Lion Gardiner (1599-1663). The island is still owned by the Gardiner family, and is the only American real estate still intact as part of an original royal grant. Lion also purchased the island from the Montaukett tribe, bartering a large black dog, blankets, a gun, powder, and shot. Lion and Wyandanch (1615-1658), the tribe’s sachem (primary chief), were said to be close friends, especially so after Lion arranged for the safe return of Wyandanch’s daughter when she was kidnapped by another tribe.

John Gardiner (1661-1738), Lion’s grandson and David’s father, had a brief encounter with the famed Captain Kidd (1645-1701), who visited the island in 1699 and buried some of his treasure there in John’s presence. Kidd told John that he would return to find the treasure intact or he would kill either John or David, who was eight years old at the time. Another story relates that he threatened to kill the entire family, should anything be missing from the buried treasure.

Kidd left the island shortly thereafter, sailing to Boston to meet with Lord Bellomont, the governor of the province of New York. Kidd trusted that Bellomont would help him clear his name of any wrongdoing with the English Crown. After all, he was officially a privateer for the English Crown, and Bellomont had been a major financial sponsor of Kidd’s in England. A series of circumstances, including quelling a near mutiny, had led Captain Kidd to piracy in 1698. Kidd’s trust in Bellomont was misguided, and he was arrested and shipped back to England. The treasure was retrieved from Gardiner’s Island and inventoried by commissioners for Bellomont, and a statement was taken from John Gardiner. Kidd was tried, found guilty, and eventually hanged (twice, because the rope broke) for the murder of a member of his crew and for piracy.

In 1953, the sixteenth proprietor of Gardiner’s Island, Robert David Lion Gardiner (1911-2004), took the Gardiner family’s copy of the inventory of Kidd’s Gardiner’s Island treasure with him to England when he and his wife attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was compared to the inventory taken when the treasure arrived in England with Kidd in 1699. They didn’t match.  There is at least one known piece of that treasure remaining in the United States. Captain Kidd gave John Gardiner’s wife a piece of gold silk, which is on view at the East Hampton Library.


   - Claire Stuckey, Cataloger

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tuesday, April 18: Celebrate Clarence Darrow's Birthday!

Come out and celebrate Clarence Darrow's birthday with the Law Library!  There will be great treats - cake and cupcakes - as well as a quiz about Darrow, his life and career, for prizes.  Don't forget to take a selfie with Clarence!

When: Tuesday, April 18, 11 a.m - 1 p.m.
Where: Library lobby
What: Birthday cake, cupcakes, and prizes!

The Law Library and Riesenfeld Center holds the preeminent collection of Darrow autograph letters, as well as works by and about Darrow and his career.

It is never too late for good presents!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Medieval Manuscripts in the Rare Books Collection

One of the interesting and valuable finds in early modern books are medieval manuscript fragments. Used at the time to strengthen the books' bindings, particularly along the spines, they have since become a subject of interest for book historians. In our collection we occasionally come across these fragments - technically our earliest materials - and have recorded several examples. More spectacular and more rare are books that are fully covered in medieval manuscript leaves, of which we also have a few.

These volumes often draw the interest of visitors and scholars, not only for the beauty and antiquity of their bindings, but also for the fragmentary manuscripts they preserve. Two examples in the collection are a 1575 edition of the Italian jurist Alessandro Tartagni's commentary on the Corpus juris civilis (the collection of Roman law received during the Middle Ages, which forms the basis of modern civil laws), and an influential Scottish collection of medieval laws and customs, the Regiam maiestatem Scotiae (1613).

Tartagni (1424-1477) was a legal standout of his day, a widely renowned, semi-itinerant jurist sometimes called the 'doctor of truth' or the 'golden doctor.' He taught canon and Roman law - as the latter was adapted to early Renaissance Italian life - to students who filled the cities as lawyers, diplomats, teachers and bureaucrats. Tartagni himself received doctorates from Bologna, the first and most famous medieval law school, and taught at Pavia, Ferrara, Padua, and Bologna, where he died. Each of our volumes of Tartagni's four-volume commentary on Roman law is covered in vellum (or animal skin) leaves from 13th-century manuscripts.  

At left is a detail from the cover of Tartagni's commentary on the middle books of Justinian's Digest of Roman law, known as the Infortiatum. Strikingly, the pictured manuscript leaf also includes an early commentary on the Digest. The leaf shows a section of book 19 of the Digest, on locatio conductio, or contracts for leasing goods and hiring services. The Roman legal text is in black, with red and blue initial letters to focus the reader's eye. A surrounding marginal gloss - a kind of abbreviated commentary - can be seen in a fainter brown ink. Just as Tartagni was commenting on Roman law in his volumes, a medieval scribe was filling the margins of his manuscript with short explanations of the same texts. A small history of evolving thought and pedagogy can thus be seen at a glance; all the more so as 16th-century editors then added footnotes to Tartagni's commentary. 

The Regiam maiestatem Scotiae is equally interesting, even if the connection between the text and the covering manuscript leaf is less clear. Grand in scope, the Regiam maiestatem was composed in Scotland in the 14th century and includes parts of Glanvill's medieval Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England, as well as elements of Roman and canon law, and ancient Scottish laws. Our edition was published in London, four years after the first edition compiled by John Skene was published in Edinburgh.

The manuscript that covers our Regiam maiestatem, at right, is a late 13th- or 14th-century antiphonal (or antiphonary), a liturgical book used for chanting the divine office in choir. It was tailored for use by monks, and needed to be large enough to be read by a small group. The particular leaf that covers the front and back of our volume is very similar to this leaf online (and the music can be sung with the aid of modern notation). Notably ours features a more intricate decorated initial letter "E." Monastic liturgical books were not much in demand in early modern Protestant Scotland, which may help explain its repurposed use here. Yet its aesthetics were not lost on an early modern binder, who positioned the beautiful "E" across the spine, where it would be seen more easily.  

   - Ryan Greenwood, Curator of Rare Books and Special Collections