New Book Exhibit: Le droit en images: Faire rire, découvrir et apprendre

correct law and art posterImages and law – the first association between these two words that probably springs into your mind is the copyright law or cultural property law. However, the connection between law and visual art is more complex and manifold: hand-drawn sketches are still used to illustrate trials unraveling in courtrooms; lawyers are one of the most favourite and rather easy targets for the cartoonist around the globe; while legal books, law firms, and law libraries are filled with the stern looking portraits of be-wigged and be-robed judges and barristers…

The upcoming exhibit illustrates yet another facet of the relationship between law and an image: the use of visuals in legal books to illustrate, explain, and discuss law and legal concepts. This tradition dates back to the early days of legal literature, with the lavishly illuminated manuscript of Sachsenspiegel being one of the most known examples. To help you dispel the winter blues and the gloom of your impending mid-terms, the exhibition Le droit en images mostly showcases the books that use the imagery to explain and talk about law in a rather light-hearted and humorous way.

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Quid Novi Archives are Online!

This summer, the McGill library has been hard at work digitising historic McGill student newspapers. Now the project is completed, and the digital versions are accessible online at the Internet Archive. This extensive digital collection currently includes over 10,000 issues from various McGill student publications including The Fortnightly, The McGill Outlook, Le Délit, The McGill Daily, Quid Novi, The Dram and the Failt-Ye Times.  As you can see, our beloved Quid was also part of this massive effort. You can access the full archives of Quid Novi 656 issues here:

Good reading to everybody!

New Exhibition: “Justice, justice shall you pursue”: Jewish Law from Biblical Times to the Present”

Arthur Szyk PosterJewish Law has a history of more than three thousand years. This extended time, can be divided in two main periods: The first broad period begins with the written Torah and ends with the completion of the Talmud. The second broad period is the post-Talmudic period, from the completion of the Talmud until our own day (Elon, Menachem. Jewish law: history, sources, principles).

The Hebrew word “halakhah” is usually translated as “Jewish Law”, although a more literal translation might be “the path that one walks”. The word is derived from the Hebrew root Heh-Lamed-Kaf, meaning to go, to walk, or to travel (Encyclopaedia Judaica).

The principles and rules of Jewish Law are based on the Bible. While some rules are mentioned quite explicitly, others are only implied. All are elucidated in the teachings of the Tanna’im and Amora’im – the Rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud – and presented systematically in the codes. Thus, over the generations, a comprehensive legal system has developed.

Jewish tradition compares Jewish law to a living tree. As the Torah, the sacred scroll of the Five Books of Moses, is returned to the ark after being read in synagogue services, the liturgy quotes from the biblical book of Proverbs (4:2, 3: 18, 17): I give you good instruction; never forsake My Torah. It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and those who uphold it are happy. Its ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace. (A Living Tree. Roots and Growth of Jewish Law)

JEWISH LAW EXHIBITION title2The books for this exhibition come from the holdings of the Rare Books and Special Collections, the Nahum Gelber Law Library Special Collections, and the Humanities and Social Science Library.

Among the books presented we find a volume of the Ḥamishah ḥumshe Torah: ketav yad Temani. This is a facsimile edition of 390 copies of a manuscript of the Pentateuch, in accordance with the Yemenite tradition, with the Targum, Tafsir of Saʼadya Gaon and the Collecteana of R. Yaḥya Siani.

A miniature Shulchan Aruch, printed in Venice, in 1574. The Shulchan Aruch, or “Set Table” is a codification of Jewish law composed by Rabbi Joseph Karo in the 16th century. Together with its commentaries, it is considered the most authoritative compilation of halakha since the Talmud.

The book Sefer ha-hinukh: yavo’u vo ha-613 mitsvot, yesod Torat Moshe u-nevuato, was also printed in Venice in the Jewish year 361 [1600 or 1601]. This is an anonymous work on the 613 precepts in the order of their appearance in Scripture, giving their reasons and their laws in detail. The book is mainly based on the Sefer ha-Mitzvot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.

IMG_4131One of the centerpieces is The Codex Maimuni: Moses Maimonides’ Code of law: the illuminated pages of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah. This book, published in 1984 reprints sixty-eight of the most beautiful pages from the illuminated codex of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah, one of the most outstanding surviving exemplars of mediaeval Hebrew book production.

A surviving example of Das talmudische Recht : auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung mit dem römischen verglichen und systematisch dargestellt. Sachenrecht by S. Rubin (Wien: Druckerei-und Verlags-A.-G. Ig. Steinmann. 1938). This copy was printed in Viena, in 1938. According to a review written by W. R. Taylor, the author has planned a study of Talmudic law to be embraced in three volumes. The purpose of the project, according to Taylor, was to bring the Talmudic legislation into a scientific arrangement in harmony with modern methods and to institute a comparison of the Talmudic material with the relative parts of Roman law. At the end of each chapter there are extensive notes inclusive of references, citations, and expositions of maxims from the Talmud and the later codes of Maimonides, Asher, and Karo, and from Roman law.

Ioannis Seldeni, De synedriis & praefecturis juridicis veterum Ebraeorum. Londini: Typis Jacobi Flesher: Prostant apud Cornelium Bee …, 1650-1655. John Selden, 1584-1654, was an English jurist and a scholar of England’s ancient laws and constitution and a scholar of Jewish law. In 1650 Selden began to print the trilogy he planned on the Sanhedrin, the assembly of sages that constituted the highest political magistracy of the country.

IMG_4154 IMG_4157This exhibition was planned and organized by Sonia Smith and Svetlana Kochkina, librarians at the Nahum Gelber law Library.

New Exhibit: Annie MacDonald Langstaff

annie_langstaffAnnie Langstaff, née MacDonald, a legal author, feminist, and aviatrix, was the first woman graduate in law in Québec (first-class honours, 1914), who became known because of her litigation against the Québec Bar, where she was denied access to its qualifying exams. To honour her memory the Law Library opens an exhibition featuring a selection of archival materials, including her original diploma, photographs, and grades’ transcripts.

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She was born in 1887 in Alexandria, Glengarry County, Ontario. She came to Montreal, after receiving her Senior Matriculation from the Prescott (Ontario) High School, and worked as a stenographer for Samuel W. Jacobs, K.C., head of the firm Jacobs, Hall, Couture and Fitch, a well-respected lawyer and advocate of Jewish Rights.

IMG_3262 IMG_3261In October 1911, with the encouragement of Mr. Jacobs, she entered the McGill Faculty of Law. She received her B.C.L. in May 1915, graduating with First Class Honours and a prize of $25.00. She ranked fourth in her class of eighteen and led her second year class in Company Law and her third year class in Criminal Law. After Convocation she applied to take the Quebec preliminary Bar examination. This examination was normally taken, by those wishing to study law, three years before presenting themselves for admission to practice and as a preliminary to the university program in law. Mrs. Langstaff, anticipating difficulty in being admitted, chose to complete her law program first, and then to apply for the preliminary examination.

Her application was refused by the Bar and, with Mr. Jacobs as her counsellor, she petitioned the Superior Court for a writ of mandamus summoning the Quebec Bar to show cause why it should not be ordered to grant the application since Mrs. Langstaff met all the statutory qualifications for sitting the examination. At the hearing, Mrs. Langstaff assisted in the presentation of her case. Her petition was dismissed with costs by Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre. (Dame Langstaff v. The Bar of the Province of Quebec (1915) 47 C.S. 131.).

Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre noted that Mrs. Langstaff was “a young woman of good morals and possessed of considerable ability” (p. 145), but his Lordship held that “to admit a woman and more particularly a married woman as a barrister as a person who pleads cases at the bar before judges or juries in open court and in the presence of the public, would be nothing short of a direct infringement upon public order and a manifest violation the law of good morals and public decency” (p. 39). The opinion of Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre caused a public outcry. It was the subject of a number of newspaper headlines and articles. Mrs. Langstaff’s supporters, led by Professor Carrie Derick of McGill, and the members of the Local Council of Women, organized a mass protest against his remarks and decision.

Mrs. Langstaff, still represented by Mr. Jacobs, appealed to the Court of King’s Bench. A hearing was held on 16 September 1915 and arguments were closely covered in the local press. On 2nd November, the Court in a four to one decision (Mr. Justice Lavergne dissenting), affirmed Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre’s decision (Dame Langstaff (Annie Macdonald) v. The Bar of the Province of Quebec (1916) 25 B.R. 11.). Although that was the end of her personal legal battle, she continued to fight by supporting various bills introduced to change Quebec law so as to allow women to practise law. IMG_3265But she was never allowed to write the examination and by the time the law was finally changed, in 1942, a Bachelor of Arts degree had become a prerequisite. Mrs. Langstaff was not prepared at the time in her life to return to formal university studies. Mrs. Langstaff continued her work for the law firm (which she described as “a little secretarial work, a little bookkeeping, and a little law”, McGill Reporter, 11 February 1976).

She was the first woman stenographer employed in a Montreal Criminal Court (Court of Special Sessions, June 1914). She became a successful aviatrix and, on the occasion of Marshall Foch’s visit to Montreal, circled above the city for an hour to the delight of thousands of spectators. She was the author of several articles on family law published in popular women’s journals and of an English-French French-English Quebec Legal Dictionary (1937). She retired from the firm, now known as Phillips and Vineberg, in 1965 at the age of 78. She died on 29 June 1975 at the age of 88.

On September 7, 2006 The Montréal Bar bestowed on Mrs. Annie MacDonald Langstaff a posthumous honour by giving her the Medaille du Barreau de Montréal in recognition of her accomplishments.

Information and text for this blog post were derived from the memorial plaque exhibited in the Annie Langstaff room at the Faculty of Law, McGill University.

Access to Nahum Gelber Law Library during exam period / Accès à la Bibliothèque de droit Nahum Gelber pendant la période des examens

From Tuesday, April 7 to Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the main floor and second floor of the Nahum Gelber Law Library will be open for study to all McGill students during opening hours. During this period, only McGill Law students will be able to access the third, fourth and fifth floors using their ID cards on the card readers installed in both elevators and in access points.

This limited-access policy to the Nahum Gelber Law Library is being implemented a few days before and throughout the exam period and is designed to accommodate Law students who will be preparing final papers and completing take-home exams in the building. In order to prepare for these exams, Law students require non-circulating materials that are only available in the Nahum Gelber Law Library and so require extensive access to the stacks on the third, fourth and fifth floors…

Read the rest of the announcement here.

Collection Wainwright, nouvelles acquisitions: Coustumes generales du duchè d’Aouste

Grace à la générosité du Wainwright Trust,  nous avons ajouté à la Collections Wainwright un nouvel ouvrage  très rare avec seulement quatre autres exemplaires recensés dans les bibliothèques : Coustumes generales du duchè d’Aouste : proposees & redigees par escript en l’assemblee des trois estatz gens d’eglise, nobles, practiciens, & coustumiers : auec les vz & stilz audit pays obserués / le tout reueu & corrigé, & despuis confirmé & approuué par son altesse ; auec deux tables l’vne des tiltres & l’autre des principales matieres par ordre alphabetique.  Publié à Chambery par Loys Pomar en 1588, le livre a conservé sa reliure d’origine en vélin dur avec le dos à 3 nerfs orné de fleurons dorés. Il est la première édition du coutumier du Val d’Aoste.

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Contexte historique : Les réformes du duc Emmanuel-Philibert vont dans le sens de centraliser le pouvoir dans la personne du souverain et de supprimer le pluralisme juridique typique du Moyen Age. Prenant toutefois acte du loyalisme qu’ont démontré les Valdôtains pendant l’occupation française de la Savoie et du Piémont, il confirme les franchises de La Vallée d’Aoste et ses institutions particulières, y compris le Conseil des Commis, créé le 7 mars 1536 par l’Assemblée des États pour gouverner le Pays. L‘Assemblée des États obtient du duc l’autorisation de compiler un Coutumier et de nommer à cet effet une commission de juristes présidée par le premier sénateur de Savoie Jean-Geoffroy Ginod, évêque de Belley. Commencés en 1573, les travaux de la commission s’achèvent en 1588, quand le due Charles-Emmanuel Ier promulgue enfin le recueil des Coustumes du duché d’Aouste, imprimé à Chambéry par Louis Pomar, formé de six livres et comprenant en tout 4262 articles. Summa de la science juridique valdôtaine, le Coutumier concerne tant le droit civil que pénal et règlemente les magistratures locales et les professions libérales. De nombreux juristes et praticiens collaborent à sa rédaction, dont François et Jean Humbert de Vallaise, François-René de Nus, Claude d’Avise, Antoine et Pantaléon Vaudan, Bonaventure-Philibert Bomyon, Vlincent Ottiné, Guillaunie Lyboz et Vincent Regis  (adapté de Joseph Rivolin).

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New Additions to our Digitised Collections: Law Exams from 1861-1896 and Mooters Scrapbook from 1915-1916

We all know that e-exams for the past years are not available for the faculty of law. Not to exactly fill this gap, but to at least provide you with an insight into how the exams looked like for the 19th century McGill law students, we have digitized a volume from our Rare Books Collection that gathers the examination questions for the years 1861-1896. You can find there for example, the questions for the sessional examinations on the Civil Code for the second and third year students that were held on Tuesday, March 5th, 1872.

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Another glimpse into the student life of the days bygone is allowed by the scrapbook made by law students preparing for moot completion in in 1915-1916. The book contains handwritten accounts of the meetings, clippings from contemporary newspapers, a typewritten case Brown vs. Jones assigned to the students and the moot court decision.

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Both books are now available for viewing and downloading via WorldCat:

Examinations: http://mcgill.worldcat.org/oclc/893611291

Reports of moot trials: http://mcgill.worldcat.org/oclc/893611839

Exhibition: In Loving Memory of Hugh Patrick Glenn (1940 – 2014)

To honour the memory of H. Patrick Glenn, Peter M. Laing Professor of Law, who passed away on October 1, 2014, the Law Library opens an exhibition “In Loving Memory of Hugh Patrick Glenn (1940 – 2014)” featuring memorabilia, tributes from the Guest book and a selection of his works, including all the editions of Legal Traditions of the World. Legal Traditions of the World, now in its fifth edition, has been a global success that was awarded the Grand Prize by the International Academy of Comparative Law in 1998.

hpgProfessor Patrick Glenn taught and had research interests in the areas of comparative law, private international law, civil procedure and the legal professions. He was a former Director of the Institute of Comparative Law and in that capacity worked on projects on the reform of the Russian Civil Code and judicial education in China. He was a member of the Royal Society of Canada and the International Academy of Comparative Law and had been a Bora Laskin National Fellow in Human Rights Law, a Killam Research Fellow, and a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

In 2006, H. Patrick Glenn received the Prix Léon-Gérin, a prestigious award attributed by the Government of Québec, in recognition of his contribution in comparative law over his career.

In 2010-2011, he held the Henry G. Schermers Fellowship of the Hague Institute for the Internationalisation of Law. In 2012, he was elected president of the American Society of Comparative Law.

In November 2014, the Canadian Bar Association (Quebec Division) posthumously awarded him the Paul-André Crépeau Medal  for his contributions to the advancement of international private and commercial law. Read more about Professor H. Patrick Glenn here.

The exhibit was prepared by Svetlana Kochkina, Librarian at the Nahum Gelber Law Library.

Legal Databases Training for Law Students

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is pleased to be able to offer again  the database training by legal publishers to McGill Law students. The sessions will take place in the Law Library Computer Classroom (main floor of the library).

  • QuickLaw (LexiNexis)
    Monday, October 27, 13-14:30h
  • Westlaw Canada (Carswell)
    Wednesday, October 29, 13-14:30h
  • Azimut (SOQUIJ)
    Monday, November 3, 13-14:30h
  • CAIJ (Centre d’accès à l’information juridique)
    Wednesday, November 5, 13-14:30h

Sign-up sheets are available in the Law Library Computer Classroom.