The National Archives has announced that the 1940 Census data will be made available free of charge via the Internet on April 2, 2012. While researchers can also access the material at NARA facilities across the country, Internet access will provide all members of the public with instant access to these historical Census records. Interestingly, the National Archives has also released training videos prepared for the 1940 Census takers which give researchers a unique perspective on the decade.
Georgetown Law Library Blog
Entries Tagged as Legal History
January 05, 2012 · Margaret Krause
December 15, 2011 · Erin Kidwell
220 years ago today Virginia became the 11th state to ratify the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution. Almost half of the original 13 states had either conditioned their ratification or outright refused ratification of the 1787 Constitution upon a demand to add a Bill of Rights. Although originally opposed to these calls for a Bill of Rights, James Madison had become the leading proponent of adopting a Bill of Rights by the time the First Congress met in April of 1789. The various state ratification conventions had by this time sent along 210 proposed amendments, which were sorted through and consolidated down to 12 by September 1789. The original first and second amendments failed to gain enough support (although the original second amendment would become the 27th Amendment - limiting the ability of Congress to raise its own salary - in 1992), leaving amendments three to twelve to become the first 10 amendments to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights we celebrate today.
Georgetown Law Library has numerous books on the Bill of Rights in our collection, including: The Bill of Rights and American History (Paul Murphy ed., 1990); Bernard Schwartz, The Great Rights of Mankind: a history of the American Bill of Rights (1977); Eric T. Kasper, To secure the liberty of the people : James Madison's Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court's interpretation (2010); Richard Labunski, James Madison and the struggle for the Bill of Rights (2006); Leonard W. Levy, Origins of the Bill of Rights (1999); and, Birth of the Bill of Rights: encyclopedia of the Antifederalists (Jon L. Wakelyn ed., 2004).
There are also a number of excellent online resources available to explore the history and influence of the Bill of Rights, including: The Bill of Rights Institute; Today is Bill of Rights Day; The Bill of Rights at the National Archives; and, at The Library of Congress. ;; ;; ??
December 09, 2011 · Erin Kidwell
It's that special time of year again! Yes, once again we hear the seasonal sounds of complaints about a 'War on Christmas' wafting through the blogosphere and cable news channels. Whatever one may think of this alleged suppression of all things Christmas, the current 'conflict' pales in contrast to the genuine banning of Christmas celebrations that took place in 16th and 17th century Britain and New England. The Real 'War on Christmas': 1581-1690 exhibit in the Williams Library Atrium displays facsimiles of several laws enacted during this period that outlawed the singing of carols, the holding of feasts and festivals, and other aspects of what we today cluster together under the seasonal rubric of holiday joy. These materials illuminate an easily overlooked chapter in the history of religious liberty, and give some valuable perspective to the current debate over the 'War on Christmas'.
September 16, 2011 · Erin Kidwell
One of the truly delightful aspects of working with rare books is finding unique and sometimes suprising objects, inscriptions, and other miscellanies within them. The newest exhibit in the atrium display cases of the Williams Library location of Georgetown Law Library features a few such hidden treasures. Miscellanies Found in Blackstone's Commentaries includes a handwritten index to the first American edition of Blackstone's that included editorial notes and supplementary essays on, and case citations to, American law - Tucker's Blackstone published in 1803; a bookmark from the law bookstore frequented by Georgetown Law students in the early 1900s - John Byrne & Co.; and, a study outline list of Offenses against Public Justice written by Thomas A. Tighe of the Georgetown Law Class of 1914. Pictured here is Georgetown Law Library's copy of vol. 1 of the 1765 first edition of Blackstone's together with the original owner's inscription and bookplate found on the inside front cover.
August 26, 2011 · Erin Kidwell
17th century England was a nation beset by recurrent periods of political and legal turmoil. Disputes between Parliament, the Common Lawyers, and the Crown, which had begun to hinder the functions of government in the 1620s, developed into civil war by the mid-1640s and reverberated through the end of the century well into the next. Lawyers and printers often found themselves caught up in both sides of the struggle. A number of pamphlets and treatises were written to defend and promote the rightness of both causes. Authors and publishers risked being charged with disparaging the prerogative rights and powers of the Crown or Parliament. This often led to the production of multiple variant imprints of a single work, many of them unauthorized by either the government or the author.
Georgetown Law Library Special Collections holds several such controversial variant imprints. Images from two such works produced to support the opposing sides in the English Civil War are currently on display in the Special Collections Exhibit Case located outside the Special Collections Reading Room (Williams 210) off the west end of the main reading room in the Williams Library.
June 18, 2011 · Erin Kidwell
Have you ever wondered how real estate transactions were made in times long past of lords and ladies, castles and jousts? What did a land sales contract or lease look like centuries before the development of standardized printed real estate forms? Then stop by one of the library's touch-screen kiosks or go to our online gallery and explore our latest digital exhibit - Medieval English Land Grants from Special Collections. The exhibit features several land transfer documents from the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) that are part of Georgetown Law Library's collections of rare and historical legal materials.
May 23, 2011 · Hannah Miller
1865 was the beginning of the Reconstruction Era of American History. The Civil War had ended, President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated and President Andrew Johnson was trying to rebuild and unify America. Washington, DC became the converging ground where parties debated numerous issues, such as: voting rights, war crimes and building infrastructure. An unusual participant in America’s political history during this time was Walt Whitman, who would later become well known for his poetry and less for the part he played in American politics.
Whitman worked as a clerk in the Attorney General’s office from 1865-1873. The National Archives announced that it has recently discovered 3,000 documents relating to Whitman’s work in Washington, DC. The documents were found by Kenneth M. Price, a professor of English and co-director of the Walt Whitman Archives. The find illuminates not only this moment in American history, but what might have shaped the thoughts of Walt Whitman as well.
April 29, 2011 · Mabel Shaw
The Act of Settlement (passed in 1700 and enacted in 1701) states that Roman Catholics, or anyone married to a Roman Catholic, cannot hold the Crown. This law was meant to secure Protestant succession and maintain the Church of England. These and other interesting materials are part of a mini display in the Wolff Library. Look for the high table near the computers on the lower level of Wolff.
April 24, 2011 · Laura Bedard
The Georgetown Law Library has recently acquired the 1765, third edition of Samuel Johnson’s epic Dictionary of the English Language. First published in 1755, Johnson’s Dictionary was the first dictionary of English words, and remained one of the most important reference books in the Anglo-American world, until the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was published in 1884. Johnson explained when he first proposed his Dictionary of the English Language in 1746 that “the rules of style, like those of law, arise from precedents.” The legal terms he defined in his Dictionary relied heavily on such legal authorities as John Cowell’s The Interpreter, Matthew Hale’s History and Analysis of the Common Law of England, Francis Bacon’s Collected Works, and John Ayliffe’s Parergon Juris Canonici Anglicani (Index guide to English canon law), among other authorities. Johnson's Dictionary became the dictionary of choice in colonial america in the 18th century. According to Johnson scholar John Stone, Noah Webster, America's first lexicographer, declared that it also played a part in the evolution of American constitutional law: "Legislators are much occupied with ascertaining 'first meanings', with trying to secure the literal sense of their predecessors' legislation ... To understand a law, you need to understand what its terminology meant to its original architects." Thomas Jefferson owned the later 1773 fourth edition of Johnson's Dictionary, and many of the framers of the U.S. Constitution also owned variant editions of the epic work.
For more information on this 1765 edition of Johnson's Dictionary, its history and importance in U.S. constitutional history, and for a chance to use it, please contact the Head of Special Collections, Laura Bedard at email@example.com, or stop by the Special Collections Department, on the west side of the Oakley Reading Room, in the Williams Library.