The Melbourne Law School Rare Books and Legal History Lecture Series was launched in 2002 to promote and encourage research into the Rare Book Collection. The lecture series also aims to use the collection as a starting point for more general discussions of subjects such as:
- Legal, business and economic history
- Early history and development of the Law School
- Publishing and book selling in Australia.
Picturing the Law
Thursday, 18 May 2017
Michael Widener, Rare Book Librarian at
the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School
"Law books" and "illustrations" are rarely associated with one another. Yet, for the past decade, hundreds of examples have been assembled in the Yale Law Library by its Rare Book Librarian, Michael Widener, spanning eight centuries and four continents. A major exhibition of the collection, entitled “Law’s Picture Books,” will open in September 2017 at the Grolier Club in New York City.
In his talk, Michael Widener will go beyond a preview of the exhibition to explore how collections like this can open fresh opportunities for libraries, book collectors, and researchers.This exhibition highlights a rich tradition of legal publishing which book lovers - and lawyers - are often surprised to learn exists at all.
"Illustrated law books" may seem like an oxymoron. After all, law is conceptual, analytic, and - wordy. Yet the object of law is human life, and its books, whether published for practitioners, students, or lay readers, mediate between abstract rules and the real world of people and things, between ideals and the everyday. The books on display here respond to this tension. They stem from Europe, Great Britain, the Far East, and the Americas, from the middle ages to today, and include a beguiling diversity of engravings, diagrams, and designs that stand both on their own and in dialogue with their accompanying text
Mike Widener became the Rare Book Librarian at the Lillian Goldman Law Library in 2006, after 14 years as Head of Special Collections at the Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin. He is also on the faculty of the Rare Book School, University of Virginia, where he has taught the course “Law Books: History & Connoisseurship” since 2010. He edited and contributed to Public Services Issues with Rare and Archival Law Materials (Haworth Press, 2001), and has authored several articles and book reviews in the fields of archives, rare books, and legal history.
Click here to register for this free public lecture.
Previous Lectures in the Series
|Professor Mark Lunney||A very Australian Story: Political Libels and the Conscription Referendums of the First World War||21 July 2016||Podcast link|
|Dr July Evans||Attending to Place in the Academic life: Telling the Story of the 1881 Coranderrk Enquiry||23 July 2014|
|Dr John Waugh||The Hanged and the Saved: Death and Mercy in Colonial Victoria||24 July 2014||Podcast link|
|Professor Travis McDade||The Book Theft Century: A Lament||25 July 2013||Podcast link|
|Bryan A. Garner||The Utility and Pleasure of Collecting Antiquarian Lawbooks||26 July 2012|
|Dr Shaunnagh Dorsett||Why archive? The New Zealand Lost Cases project||27 October 2011|
|Professor Michael Bryan||The Modern History and Contemporary Issues of Law Reporting: from 1850 to the Online Revolution||18 November 2010||Article|
|Professor Emeritus Wilfrid Prest||William Blackstone: Lawyer and Judge||29 October 2009|
|Professor Michael Bryan||Early English Law Reporting||12 November 2008||Article|
|Professor Emeritus Wilfrid Prest||Blackstone's Books||15 November 2006|
|Professor John M Bennett||Judicial Biography: Does it Matter? The Making of 'Lives of the Australian Chief Justices'||24 May 2005|
|Roger Stoddard||F.O.J. Smith and William Willis: Two Lawyer-Book Collectors in Nineteenth-Century Portland, Maine||14 October 2004||Catalogue record for pamphlet|
|Michael Piggott||Preserving Legal History: The University of Melbourne's Law Archives||11 May 2004|
|Dr John Emmerson QC||The First English Law Books||12 November 2003|
|Professor Wallace Kirsop||Buying Law Books in Nineteenth Century Melbourne||8 April 2003||Catalogue record for pamphlet|
|Professor Robin Sharwood||Revealing Hidden Treasures||17 October 2002|