Category Archives: Legal History

New Exhibit: Annotated Imprints II: The Jurisprudence of Cannibalism in Fuller’s ‘Case of the Speluncean Explorers’

This is the second in a series of posts about annotated books held by Georgetown Law Library’s Special Collections. This post features an annotated copy of the 1949 Temporary Edition of Lon Fuller’s ‘The Problems of Jurisprudence’ textbook from the Judge Charles E. Wyzanski Collection.

Learning and practicing the law exposes both students and practitioners to difficult issues that sometimes defy easy answers. Law professors regularly craft hypotheticals in attempts to encourage students to discuss such issues. There are surely few more difficult than those faced by survivors of catastrophes struggling to stay alive in the face of insufficient supplies of food and water. Lon Fuller’s now iconic Case of the Speluncean Explorers has become a classic hypothetical for discussion in jurisprudence courses since it was published in the Harvard Law Review in February 1949. Based loosely on the infamous 19th century cannibalism murder trials of shipwreck survivors in Queen v. Dudley and Stephens, 14 L. Rep. 273 (Q.B. Div. 1884), and U.S. v. Holmes, 26 F. Cas. 360, 1 Wall. Jr. 1 (C.C.E.D. Pa. 1842) (No. 15,383), the Case of the Speluncean Explorers asks students to ponder whether a murder has in fact taken place under such circumstances. How might a sitting judge actually rule in such a case?

Georgetown Law Library is fortunate to hold the personal library of Judge Charles E. Wyzanski (1906-1986), which contains a suggestive answer in his annotated copy of Fuller’s Problems of Jurisprudence. Judge Wyzanski began his legal career by clerking for Judge Augustus Noble Hand from 1930-31 and then for Judge Learned Hand in 1932. He then became a leading New Deal lawyer in the Roosevelt administration’s Department of Justice, first as Solicitor of Labor from 1933-35 and then as Special Assistant to the Attorney General in the Office of the Solicitor General from 1935-37. He returned to private practice until 1941 when he was appointed to the District Court for the District of Massachusetts by President Roosevelt. During his tenure on the court from 1941 to 1986 Judge Wyzanski ventured into academia four times. He was a Harvard Lecturer in Government in1942-43, an MIT Lecturer in Law in 1949-50, a Lecturer in Law at Stanford from 1949-1951, and a Visiting Professor of Law at Columbia in 1974. Judge Wyzanski’s annotated copy of Problems of Jurisprudence likely dates from his lectureships at MIT and Stanford.

Judge Wyzanski’s annotated copy of Fuller’s Problems of Jurisprudence

An exhibit containing this book and Judge Wyzanski’s holding is currently in the Special Collections display case outside Williams 210. All of Judge Wyzanski’s books can be found in the library catalog by searching for the collection title – Judge Charles E. Wyzanski Collection.

To access these and other rare and historical acquisitions, contact Erin Kidwell, Curator of Legal History Collections – kidwelle@law.georgetown.edu, or Hannah Miller, Special Collections Librarian – htm@law.georgetown.edu; or, Special Collections – specl@law.georgetown.edu. You can also visit us in Special Collections (Williams 210) Monday – Friday from 10am to 6pm.

Economic Opportunity Act, signed August 20, 1964

President_Johnson_08201964_UPI_NEJLFifty Years ago today, on August 20, 1964, President Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act into law, creating the Community Action Program, Job Corps, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). A legislative history of the Economic Opportunity Act is available via HeinOnline’s Taxation and Economic Reform in America series.

1991 oral history interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton focusing on her career in legal services now available online

H_Rodham_Clinton_1991_NEJL_OHIn the videotaped interview, which was conducted by Victor Geminiani in 1991 on behalf of the National Equal Justice Library Oral History Project, Hillary Rodham Clinton recalls her education and career working for legal services from the late 1960s until the early 1980s. Ms. Rodham Clinton got involved with legal services while she was a law student at Yale, where she started volunteering for the New Haven Legal Services organization, one of the first Ford Foundation “Gray Area” model projects. After graduating in 1973, she started working full time as a lawyer for the Children’s Defense Fund, which was founded by Marian Wright Edelman, a fellow Yale graduate whom she had met during her first months in law school. Hillary Rodham had interned for the Washington Research Project, CDF’s parent body, during law school. At CDF, she worked on education and juvenile justice law reform, allowing her to combine her “legal interests and public policy interests.”

In early 1974, Hillary Rodham accepted an offer by John Doar to work on the President Nixon impeachment inquiry staff in Washington, D.C. along with several other young lawyers. After President Nixon’s resignation on August 8th, 1974, she followed Bill Clinton, whom she had been dating, to Arkansas, where he had started teaching at the University of Arkansas Law School in Fayetteville. She got a job at the same law school, and started teaching in the fall of 1974. The dean had asked her to teach criminal law, run a legal aid clinic, and a project providing legal assistance to prisoners in the federal and state penitentiaries. In the interview, she recalled the efforts to gain support for the school’s legal aid program from the Arkansas Bar Association, and the difficulties that legal aid programs in Arkansas faced at the time. After gaining better support for the school’s legal aid program from the Bar Association, she submitted an application to receive federal funding through the Legal Services Corporation. The application was successful, and the program eventually became the Ozark Legal Services. In 1975, she was appointed to the Arkansas State Advisory Committee for the LSC, where she worked on the state-wide expansion of legal services. President Carter appointed Mrs. Rodham Clinton to the LSC Board in 1977 (both she and her husband had worked on Carter’s campaign), and she succeeded Roger C. Cramton as Chairperson of the LSC Board in 1978 and served in this capacity until 1981.

During her tenure at the LSC, the budget increased from $96 million during the President Ford administration to over $300 million. The board oversaw the LSC under the presidents Thomas Ehrlich and Dan Bradley during the rapid expansion of legal services into many previously underserved areas, building a broad, yet solid infrastructure. Tied to the expansion, the board worked on improving access to legal services, and focused on quality, ensuring that delivery systems were the best ones available. During this period, the LSC oversaw the 1007 (h) study, which was mandated by Congress to research the access problems of particular constituency groups such as Native Americans, and initiated the Delivery Systems Study, which analyzed a variety of different systems for the delivery of legal services.

The real strength of the program has been the way it “responded to a very significant need in society,” but did so in an “effective and professional manner,” Rodham Clinton emphasized, so that it was able to withstand the political pressures the federally funded program faced throughout much of its history. She concluded the interview by expressing the hope that the program will continue to grow, and that there will be a lot of room for new people and new ideas, while legal services advocates continue to ask the hard questions: “What’s our purpose, how are we doing it, are we doing it the best way we can, are we meeting our clients’ needs?”

The original interview was recorded on VHS. The full-length digitized interview, which also includes a transcript, is part of the NEJL oral history collection.

Online Access to Legislative and Executive Branch Materials

The Law Center’s ProQuest subscription now includes two new sets of content: Legislative Insight and Executive Branch Documents.

ProQuest’s Legislative Insight database compiles more than 18,000 histories covering enacted laws from 1929 to the present. These histories include photostatic PDF versions of the Public Law, all versions of enacted and related bills, Congressional Record excerpts, and committee hearings, reports, and documents. Template searching provides options for finding histories with Public Law numbers, Statute at Large citations, or bill numbers. It is a unparalleled resource for anyone performing comprehensive legislative history research.

Legislative Insight

The Executive Branch Documents collection provides a complete annotated bibliography and full text of all Executive Branch Documents listed in the Checklist of Public Documents, 1789-1909, indexed by subjects, names, agency report numbers, and SuDocs Classification, as well as new documents from 1910-1932. The whole library of searchable PDFs can be accessed from the Advanced Search link on the ProQuest Congressional home page. ProQuest has created a comprehensive research guide about the Executive Branch Documents collection that is a great starting point for anyone using this database.

Executive Documents

For questions about accessing and searching any of the ProQuest materials, please feel free to stop by the Reference Desk, or contact a Reference Librarian via chat or email (libref@law.georgetown.edu).

Digitized Primary Source collections now available

The Making of Modern Law digitized collections are now available through the Gale Artemis Primary Sources collection. The Georgetown Law Library currently subscribes to the following collections available for members of the Georgetown Law community:

  • Foreign Primary Sources – historical legal codes, statutes and commentaries on codes from the U.K., France, Germany and other northern European countries.
  • Foreign, Comparative and International Law, 1600-1926 – Pre-1926 legal treatises and monographs from the collections of Yale, George Washington and Columbia Law Libraries.
  • Legal Treatises, 1800-1926 – Over 10 million pages of early treatises on U.S. and British law.
  • Primary Sources – Online access to state and municipal codes, documents relating to  constitutional conventions and other resources in American legal history
  • Trials, 1600-1926 – Online access to trial records held by Harvard, Yale and the Library of the Bar of the City of New York.

Please ask a reference librarian if you need assistance with any of these collections.

Reflections on a Bibliography, Fifty Years Later

[Reposted from the NEJL blog]

By Elisa Minoff

“Selected Readings in Law and Poverty” is a remarkable document. bellow_titleGary  Bellow compiled the bibliography with the help of several law students in 1964, for a course he was teaching at Georgetown Law called Poverty and the Administration of Justice. At the time, Bellow was a young public interest lawyer working at the Legal Aid Agency of the District of Columbia. Bellow would later work at two other organizations funded the United Planning Organization (a community action agency in DC) and California Rural Legal Assistance (a pioneering legal services organization serving California’s farm workers)—before leaving legal practice for academia, where he helped found modern clinical legal education.

In 32 well-organized and quickly-digestible pages, the bibliography transports us back in time to those heady early days of the War on Poverty. It reminds us that what we have come to think of as the intellectual influences on the War on Poverty amount to only a sliver of the popular and scholarly writing on poverty at the time. And it gives us a taste of the ambition of practitioners like Bellow who were considering how to use the law in the fight against poverty.

midstofplenty

Ben Bagdikian. In the Midst of Plenty: The Poor in America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964.

Part I of the Bibliography, “The Elements of Poverty,” is most interesting to the general historian and reader. In it, Bellow and his fellow contributors list some of the most influential works on poverty from the early 1960s. Notably, the list does not stop at Michael Harrington’s The Other America or Ben Bagdikian’s In the Midst of Plenty. Bellow wanted to stimulate “law students in becoming more concerned with the legal problems of the poor and the urban condition,” as he wrote in the introduction. Accordingly, the selections tend to focus on the underlying causes of poverty, especially urban poverty, and the structural conditions that account for its persistence. Subsections on politics, race, class structure, and psychology include works by Saul Alinksy, Seymour Martin Lipset, Herbert Gans, Oscar Lewis, Ralph Ellison and Charles E. Silberman. These books were not low-circulation editions read by a handful of academics and poverty experts, but trade (and in some cases mass-market) paperbacks that became part of the larger public discourse about contemporary social problems.

newcomers

Oscar Handlin. The Newcomers. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1959.

As a historian of migration and social welfare, I was particularly excited to see Oscar Handlin’s The Newcomers listed among the “General Considerations.” Handlin was a prolific historian of immigration who had written the pulitzer-prize winning The Uprooted in 1951. In the late 1950s, he had turned to the study of contemporary internal migration. In The Newcomers, Handlin chronicles the experiences of Puerto Ricans and African Americans who had recently moved to New York City. When Handlin published The Newcomers, popular commentators had begun to blame migrants for the struggles of America’s inner cities, and social workers had come to believe that helping migrants “adjust” or “assimilate” to urban life was a prerequisite to solving urban poverty. Migration, in other words, was very much a part of the debate about poverty in the years leading up to Lyndon Johnson’s declaration, and Bellow’s bibliography manages to capture this too.

Considering the trends in anti-poverty research over the last several decades, the subsection on “The Psychology of Poverty” is particularly interesting. Psychology is yet another subject that has been largely missing from discussions of poverty, but was very much a part of the debates in the 1960s. Historian Alice O’Connor describes the “behavioral sciences revolution” that infused poverty research in the 1950s and 60s.  During these years, the National Institute of
Mental Health funded a number of influential studies and conferences on poverty. Bellows himself admitted to being especially concerned with the psychology of the poor. As he observed in a fascinating interview in 1964: ”It seems to me that poverty is something more than just economic deprivation. It seems to be characterized by a psychological dimension,
a feeling of hopelessness, of powerlessness, of an inability among the poor as we call them to belong to any institution or feel a part of our society.” (Bellows and others involved in the legal services movement, believed that the law could help the poor combat this feeling of
powerlessness bring them into the fold of American society.) In later years, anti-poverty activists became disenchanted with psychology as a subject that could help explain poverty’s persistence and gravity. After decades of marginalization, however, psychology is once again a part of
the discussion, as researchers have started to unveil the long-lasting repercussions of phenomena like poverty-induced toxic stress in early childhood.

children_of_sanchez

Oscar Lewis. The Children of Sanchez: Autobiography of a Mexican Family. New York: Random House, 1964.

(As a footnote on the subject of psychology and poverty, Bellow includes Oscar Lewis’ book, The Children of Sanchez, in the list of works on psychology. In this book, Lewis develops his idea of a culture of poverty—another concept that has recently enjoyed something of a rebirth).

What is most notable about Part II of the bibliography, “The Legal Problems of the Poor,” is how broadly Bellow conceived these problems. Among the legal problems of the poor highlighted in the bibliography are housing issues, such as urban renewal and relocation, zoning, and landlord tenant disputes; consumer protection issues, such as loan and debt problems and purchasing on credit; criminal justice issues, such as arrest and the right to counsel; as well as, to randomly select just a few: juvenile delinquency, unemployment compensation, and discrimination. Part II, which primarily consists of law review articles, includes much more technical works than Part I, which is populated with books by academics, journalists, and activists written for a general audience. But the technicality does not suggest narrow or small mindedness. Poverty law, a la Bellow, addressed any and all issues that arose in the everyday lives of America’s poor. It was far more than the law of public assistance benefits.

Bellow’s bibliography poses something of a challenge to scholars concerned with poverty today: to think broadly, and ambitiously, about the problems of the poor, and to circulate our ideas widely so that they too may become part of the public discourse—fifty years after the War
on Poverty.

bibliography_quote1

About the author: Elisa Minoff is a political and legal historian, who will be teaching as an Assistant Professor of History at the University of South Florida beginning in the fall of 2014. She has  conceptualized and developed the collaborative War on Poverty bibliography, which is available as a google doc.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1K7euJxKGRVSxR_A9CTknfmKVSfWPhj66R-rSv2j3c74/edit?usp=sharing

More information about the bibliography can be found on NEJL’s War on Poverty — Legal Services Resources Center website.

Related resources:

Selected Readings in Law and Poverty,” prepared by Gary Bellow for a seminar at Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and the Administration of Justice taught in 1964-1965.

Interview with Gary Bellow on the “Role of the Lawyer and the Problem of Poverty” by Richard D. Capparella, District Roundtable, WWDC, May 9, 1964. Gary Bellow collection, NEJL. The reformatted vinyl recording is available as a streaming mp3 file at: https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/handle/10822/707482

The Camp income tax reform proposal and the Ward M. Hussey tax legislative history collection

The House Ways and Means Committee (David Camp R-MI, chair) yesterday released draft legislation (“the Tax Reform Act of 2014”) for discussion.

Notable provisions of the Camp proposal include a substantial flattening of the income tax rate structure, simplification of individual deductions, and treating investment income (capital gains) as ordinary income (albeit with a 40% exemption).

The debate over the progressiveness of the income tax structure, over-complicated forms and obtuse statutes, and how (or whether) individuals’ savings and investments should be subject to income tax goes back to the earliest days of the Internal Revenue Code.

The Library’s Ward M. Hussey tax legislative history collection provides extensive (and unique) documentation of this century-long policy and legislative debate. Ward M. Hussey served in the Office of the Legislative Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1946 through 1989. He assisted in the drafting of numerous tax laws including the Internal Revenue Codes of 1954 and 1986. In 2002, he donated his collection of historic tax legislative materials (over 200 volumes, including the legislative drafts and reports for all the revenue acts from 1918 until 1980) to the Georgetown Law Library.

Relevant to the Camp proposal in the Hussey collection is a set of pamphlets from 1920 advocating tax reform written by a diverse set of authors, including T.S. Adams, a Yale economics professor; Otto H. Kahn, an investment banker and philanthropist; and the National Industrial Conference Board. Otto Kahn’s broadside could have been written today as part of the Camp proposal:

Our existing taxation measures … are cumbersome, vexatious, and almost incredibly complex. * * * They discourage, disturb, and impede business, and place the American business man at a disadvantage as against his European competitor. At a time when America is aiming to become a world center they deter foreign capital from coming here. They throw upon the government an administrative task of such vastness and intricacy that the departments concerned simply cannot cope with it.

Otto H. Kahn, “Our Taxation Ills with Suggestions for Their Curing” in Revenue Act of 1921: Miscellaneous Pamphlets, at p.2 (1921).

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

NEJL Launches Blog Marking 50th Anniversary of the War on Poverty

Fifty years ago, in his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared an “unconditional War on Poverty in America.” To mark this year’s anniversary of the federal anti-poverty policy initiative, the National Equal Justice Library has set up a new blog, Right On. A particular focus of the blog will be on providing information about the history and critical role of the civil legal aid programs, which eventually became part of the federal anti-poverty efforts. The blog aims to be a combination of historical reflections and analyses, entries featuring relevant resources, collections, and scholarly publications, and announcements of events and programs relating to the 50th anniversary that will be held during this year and beyond.

The first blog entry by Earl Johnson, Jr. begins as series on the emergence of the legal services program as a component of the War on Poverty during 1964 and 1965.   Earl Johnson Jr. highlights that President Johnson did not mention the denial of justice to poor and low-income people in his speech, and writes that it was to prove difficult to introduce a legal services component as part of the “War on Poverty.” Further postings by Johnson will trace the slow movement to establish a viable legal services program over the course of 1964. The entries will be combined with links to selected relevant historical sources and resources from the NEJL and other collections.

Right On, the NEJL blog.

Continental Congress Resources Online

If you are researching the Continental Congress, there are a number of great electronic resources for accessing its materials, some of which are freely available online.

Journals of the Continental Congress
The Journals of the Continental Congress are on HeinOnline and are also available for free on the Library of Congress website A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates.

Letters of Delegates to Congress
The Letters of Delegates to Congress are also on HeinOnline and A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation.

Papers of the Continental Congress
The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, are currently available for free online from Fold3.  

The Papers on this site are a digitized version of the microfilm collection (M247) created by the National Archives and Records Administration. For an overview of this collection, see this guide from the National Archives and Records Administration. 

You can browse these Papers or search by keyword on Fold3.  It can be also very helpful to utilize the Index: Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, available on HeinOnline, when searching the Papers on Fold3.  The collection is large, and the Index will help you more quickly identify relevant Papers contained therein.  Additionally, since Fold3 provides information on where each document is published in the microfilm collection, you can use the Index to find roll, item, and page numbers and search the Papers on Fold3 using these document identifiers.  Note: It often, but does not always, work to search the Papers on Fold3 using the document identifiers.  If you are not finding a document using the identifiers from the Index, try searching by keyword or subject (from the Index) instead.

Finally, Fold3 also provides access to the collection of Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress (NARA Microfilm Publication M332).

If you need assistance with any of these resources or have other questions about researching the Continental Congress, contact a librarian at the Reference Desk.

A Rare Book for Thanksgivukkah

Although the first occurrence of Thanksgivukah would not be until 1888, the first Jewish Thanksgiving sermon was preached a century earlier on Nov. 26th, 1789, by the Reverend Gershom Mendes Seixas (1746-1816)  in New York City at the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation Shearith Israel. To mark Thanksgivukkah 2013, Georgetown Law Library Special Collections has acquired a copy of a scarce 1977 Jewish Historical Society of New York reprint of this landmark in American Judiaica.

Seixas 1977r

This 1977 reprint of the exceedingly rare 1789 pamphlet included an introductory historical essay by the long-time Editor and Librarian of the American Jewish Historical Society, Isidore S. Meyer. Dr. Meyer notes Rev. Seixas’ strong exhortation to the small community of Jewish Americans in 1789 (“0.04 percent of the country’s total population”, Meyer at xiii) – “If to seek the peace and prosperity of the city wherein we dwell be a duty [Jeremiah XXIX:7] even under bad governments, what must it be when we are situated under the best of constitutions?”(Seixas at 13-14) – as “an expression of civic responsibility” inspired by having become full citizens of a country “for the first time, since 212 C.E. when the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Caracalla… had given all Jewish freemen of the Roman Empire the rights and duties of Roman citizenship,” (Meyer at xii); an apt reminder of the inclusive aspirations of American constitutionalism for Thanksgivukkah 2013.

The full text of the 1789 Thanksgiving Day Sermon is available through the library’s Early American Imprints subscription.

To view these and other recent rare and historical acquisitions, contact Erin Kidwell kidwelle@law.georgetown.edu or Special Collections  specl@law.georgetown.edu, or visit us in Williams 210 M-F from 10am to 6pm.