Author Archives: Hannah Miller

Special Collections open by Appointment Only from August 17th – 21st

Special Collections will be by open by appointment only from Monday, August 17th – Friday, August 21st . If you need access to Special Collections materials during that week, please send an email to or call 202-662-9133. We will be open again during our regular hours 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 24, 2015. Thank you.

Marion Barry – In Memoriam

The Law Center Archives houses a number of unique audio visual materials. Below is a clip of Marion Barry speaking at the McDonough Hall counter-dedication in September of 1971. Marion Barry was the director of the group Pride, Inc. at the time. He was joined by William Kunstler, Esq. , Catherine G. Roraback, a defense attorney in the New Haven Black Panther trial, and Arthur Kinoy, a law professor and activist from Rutgers University. At the counter-dedication Marion Barry asked students to fulfill their responsibility to the community around them.

Marion BarryFor more information on the counter-dedication of McDonough Hall stop by Special Collections in Williams 210 or email .

Mass Murder, Mayhem and Hangings….

Special Collections gets Spooktacular!

In the spirit of all things spooky, creepy and otherwise ghastly the following is a horror story straight from the Special Collections vault.img001All good horror stories start out as, one fine and pleasant day, but Saturday the 7th of July, 1838 turned out to be a gruesome day in Greensburg, Kentucky for Lucinda White and her family, who were brutally murdered, along with the family horse, for their money and possessions. It would be 18 months before the suspicion of murder was brought up and a warrant issued for the arrests of Carrington Simpson, Pleasant Saddler and Jason Bell. Simpson, Saddler and Bell had agreed to help Lucinda White, her two sons Lewis White and John Quincy White along with his wife Matilda and their 2 year old son William move to Alabama. Simpson was known to be a man into his drink, “petulant” and “a general wrong-doer…a terror to the neighborhood in which he lived.”(Allen, William. A History of Kentucky) Together, Simpson, Saddler and Bell murdered the 5 Whites. The victims’ bodies were deposited in an abandoned cabin on Simpson’s land and covered with tobacco stalks. It wasn’t until Matilda’s father Daniel Kessler was unsuccessful in contacting her in Alabama and the clothes of the White family were seen being worn by Simpson’s family that the suspicion of foul play was considered. Simpson was arrested in March of 1840. After his arrest, a search party was organized to look for the bodies and once discovered, Simpson finally admitted to the crime. Saddler and Bell were both arrested shortly thereafter as a result of being implicated by Simpson. Both Saddler and Bell escaped their sentences and would die in jail before they were to be executed by hanging. It was rumored that Saddler smothered Bell in their jail cell and then hung himself. Justice was served to Simpson though, who was lead to the gallows on 21st of September 1841. Of some unique interest, the executioner James B. Montgomery, charged $5.00 for the gallows and $1.00 for the rope according to account books.

img002The Carrington Simpson case materials are a recent manuscript addition to Special Collections. The documents which span 1840-1841 were compiled by Samuel A. Spencer, Simpson’s defense attorney. They include Simpson’s confession, attorney notes, lists of jurors, depositions of witness, account books and diaries. It is an interesting example of defense documents from the mid-19th century. Though the crime happened in a small town, the perpetrators were judged by two local justices before standing trial in circuit court. This collection has become part of the growing collection of practitioner’s papers from the 18th and 19th centuries. For more information regarding this collection and other historical collections please visit Special Collections in Williams 210 or contact Special Collections at

Happy Halloween from Special Collections.

404/File Not Found: Link Rot, Legal Citation and Projects to Preserve Precedent Symposium

The Web is fluid and mutable, and this is a “feature” rather than a “bug”. But it also creates challenges in the legal environment (and elsewhere) when fixed content is necessary for legal writers to support their conclusions. Judges, attorneys, academics, and others using citations need systems and practices to preserve web content as it exists in a particular moment in time, and make it reliably available.

On October 24, 2014 Georgetown Law Library will host a symposium that explores the problem of link and reference rot.

Seating is limited, but we will also be webcasting the event. On the registration form you will have the opportunity to indicate whether you wish to participate in person or via the webcast.

Event website:

Registration form:


9:00-9:30 – Registration and breakfast

9:30-9:45 – Welcome (Michelle Wu, Director of the Georgetown Law Library)

9:45-10:45 – Keynote (Jonathan Zittrain, George Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School)

10:45-11:00 – Break

11:00-12:00 – Whose Problem is This? (Karen Eltis, Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa; Mary Alice Baisch, Superintendent of Documents at the U.S. Government Printing Office)

12:00-12:30 – Scoping the Problem – Analytical and Predictive (Raizel Liebler, Head of Faculty Scholarship Initiatives at The John Marshall Law School; Rod Wittenberg, Director of Sales, North America for Reed Technology and Information Services Inc.)

12:30-1:30 – Lunch

1:30-2:00 – Webmaster’s View – (Roger Skalbeck, Associate Law Librarian for Electronic Resources and Services at the Georgetown Law Library)

2:00-3:00 – Strategies I (Herbert Van de Sompel, Digital Library Research & Prototyping Los Alamos National Laboratory; Robert Miller, Global Director of Books at the Internet Archive)

3:00-3:15 – Break

3:15-4:00 – Strategies II (Kim Dulin, Associate Director for Collection Development and Digitization at Harvard Law School; Carolyn Campbell, Digital Collections Librarian at the Georgetown Law Library)

4:00-4:30 – Wrap-up and Q&A


Accessing Special Collection’s New Finding Aids

The Special Collection finding aids have been updated and are now accessible for download and searching.  You can discover the finding aids for the Manuscript Collections ( and the National Equal Justice Library (

Below are some of the ways you can search the Special Collection finding aids.

Keyword Searching

Start by accessing the Special Collections main page using the link below.

The easiest way to search all of the Special Collection finding aids is currently by keyword:  Go to the search box, and click search this collection (this will apply to all the SPECL collections that are in Digital Georgetown, including the finding aids).  To you can also use this search method in the separate collections called “Finding Aids” under both the Manuscripts and NEJL sub-collections (following the links above).


Browse by Author or Subject

You can also search the collections by author or subject from the Law Library’s main page (shown above and below) or within the National Equal Justice Library or the Manuscripts Collection sub-collections (use the links above):



Using the Filter

To use the filter option you have to have already performed a search. The images below will walk you through using the filtered search function.  To note, the filtered search is case sensitive, so use a capital “A” in Finding Aids.

Step 1 Begin Your Search:


Step 2 Add Filter:


Step 3 Choose Filter Options:


Step 4 Add “Finding Aid” to Filter:


Step 6 Run Filter Search:


If you have any problems accessing finding aids or issues searching, please contact Special Collections at .

A New Collection Coming Soon….

Carl A.S. Coan, Sr. and Lyndon Johnson

The Law Library is working with Georgetown Law alumnus Mr. Carl Coan, Jr. (L’1958) to bring together the papers of two generations of the Coan family and their fight to bring to reality the Declaration of National Housing Policy, set out in the Housing Act of 1949, of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.

Inspired by the Georgetown mission to engender social justice, Mr. Coan, Jr. has spent his entire career as a housing attorney and as an advocate for the principles espoused in the National Housing Policy.  Part of his legacy will be his work to help draft the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 and the Fair Housing Act, which also became law in 1968.

Carl Coan, Jr.
His work complements Georgetown’s existing collection of his father’s papers, the Carl A.S. Coan, Sr. Collection.  The Carl A.S. Coan, Sr. Collection chronicles his work on the issues of public housing, after the Great Depression brought it into the national spotlight.  Mr. Carl A.S. Coan, Sr. is well known for his work as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Housing for 16 years.  Prior to his work on the Senate Subcommittee he began his career of public service in 1939 working with the Works Progress Administration, where he specialized in housing research.  Housing issues were the focus of Mr. Coan, Sr.’s career during which he spent many years at the U.S. Census Bureau, including helping to develop the first Census of Housing, and with the U.S. Public Housing Administration.  His efforts can be seen through the legislation and policies that grew out of his tenure.  His papers paint the story of housing development over the period of 1954-1976.  It records the intimate details of leading reforms in providing Federal assistance to the development of affordable housing.

For more information on the Carl A.S. Coan, Sr. Collection, please contact Special Collections

War Criminals and Cherry Blossoms?

Washingtonians and tourists alike make a pilgrimage every year to view the National Cherry Blossoms. The marvel of the delicate blossoms is not a recent phenomenon. The forefathers of our National Cherry Blossoms, which were gifted to United States in 1912 by the Mayor of Tokyo, came from the banks of the River Arukawa in Tokyo.  The blossoms gracing the banks of Arukawa River also caught the eye of John G. Brannon, a defense attorney appointed by MacArthur to defend Class A Japanese War Criminals at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.  As he remarks in his March 19, 1947 letter to his brother in Washington, DC,

“To fully understand the intimate love of the Japanese for their traditional national flower, I need only say that many persons contemplating suicide will put off the accomplishment of their intention until they again can view this abundant wealth of nature next month… the famous “Gosiki sakura” or fine colored cherry trees still found on this embankment[River Arukawa] well these gift trees were planted in your fair abode along the tidal basin of the Potomac River stretching about six miles.  To be popular in the crowd you must know these sources of light conversation and I assure you the ole professor gives it to you accurately.  Ah! I love the cherry blossoms.  But, lo! There are few cherries—since the G.I.s invaded Japan.”  (John G. Brannon, March 19, 1947)

One can wonder about his last comment, if he is still truly discussing cherry blossoms.  Apart from remarking about the splendor of cherry blossoms, Brannon does eventually discuss the trial and more important legal matters in his letter going on to state, “The pace of the trial—now ten months—, the poor whiskey, the ever decreasing caliber of food and the what-nots of overseas life have put many defense lawyers on the ropes.” 

Good thing he had the cherry blossoms to look at in all their splendor!

For more information on the unique collection of the John G. Brannon Papers please contact Special Collections at .

Special Collections Finding Aids Now Available Online

Special Collection now has PDFs of select Manuscript Collection Finding Aids available online through our database Eloquent.

 To Access Eloquent:

To Retrieve a Finding Aid:
1) Go to the above link for Eloquent
2) Search for a Collection in the Main Search Box (Example:  “Adkins”)
3) Click on the paper icon next to the Collection Level record to download the PDF or
4) Click on the Collection Level record to view more about the Collection (this record is highlighted in red) then
5) Scroll down to Documents and click on the paper icon labeled “Finding Aid”

Screen shot of Eloquent

If you have any questions or need further assistance please feel free to contact Special Collections at .

Women’s History – Equal Rights – Opposition?

“Dear Felix,
About a month ago I wrote Mrs. Florence Kelly giving the reasons for my opposition to the Women’s Party amendment to the Constitution.  I agree with you that it is a dangerous amendment, particularly at this time when the swing of the pendulum is away from legislation like the Minimum Wage Law. 
With Kindest regards and best wishes for the holiday, I am Sincerely yours,
Jesse Adkins ” 

Jesse Corcoran Adkins

The above is a letter to Felix Frankfurter by Jesse Corcoran Adkins (pictured), on December 19, 1921.  The letter is from the Judge Jesse Corcoran Adkins Papers in Special Collections.  In 1921 Felix Frankfurter was a professor at Harvard Law School and Jesse Adkins was a Georgetown Law faculty member and a member of the DC Minimum Wage Board.  It is unclear from the letter if Jesse Adkins is talking about the 19th Amendment to the Constitution or the Equal Rights Amendment, but what is clear is that both men saw it as taking the focus away from more important matters.   The Equal Rights Amendment was drafted by Alice Paul in or around 1923 and had been tested on the state level early in 1921, but would never make it to Congress until 1972. 

Both Alice Paul and Florence Kelley were very active in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S Constitution passed.  The women’s suffrage movement had finally won women the right to vote.  Following the victory of the 19th Amendment, the National American Woman Suffrage Association transforms into the League of Women Voters and the National Woman’s Party established by Alice Paul.  Paul was able to garner substantial financial support for the National Woman’s Party and established their headquarters in Washington, DC.  She was a graduate of American University, receiving her JD in 1922 and her LLM in 1928.  She was the driving force in the continuation of women’s rights through the ongoing work of the National Woman’s Party and the Equal Rights Amendment. 

Select correspondence from Alice Paul and material on the National Woman’s Party can be found in the George Finch Collection, also available in Special Collections or more information can be found at the Library of Congress in the National Woman’s Party Records.  For more information on Felix Frankfurter, Jesse Adkins and Minimum Wage, see this great blog post by Dan Ernst on the Legal History Blog. Or for a closer look at either the George Finch Collection or the Judge Jesse Corcoran Adkins Papers, please contact Special Collections at .