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.

exams 31

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.

 moots 6

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

Law Rare Books: Wainwright Collection (Nouvelles Acquisitions)

vaud 2Grace à la générosité du Wainwright Fund, qui attribue chaque année un budget destiné au développement et élargissement de la collection de notre bibliothèque dans les domaines du droit civil non-Québécois, nous avons ajouté deux nouveaux livres rares à la Collections Wainwright :

  • Cours ou explication du coustumier du pays de Vaud/ fait par Gabriel Olivier l’ainé.  Lausanne : Frédérich Gentil, MDCCVIII [1708]
  • Remarques sur les loix et statuts du Pays de Vaud / par J. Francois Boyve.  A Neuchâtel : Chez les éditeurs du Journal helvétique, MDCCLVI [1756]

vaudLes deux ouvrages publiés au XVIIIe siècle sont consacrés au droit coutumier et statutaire du Canton de Vaud (appelé autrefois le Pays de Vaud) de l’époque d’avant le Code Civil suisse federal.  Ces livres sont plus qu’un monument ou un vestige de l’histoire du droit disparu il y a longtemps, car malgré l’adoption d’un droit prive commun à toute la Suisse (Code Civil) en 1907, des subsistances des coutumes locales persistent, d’ailleurs avec l’autorisation du celui-là : “À défaut d’une disposition légale applicable, le juge prononce selon le droit coutumier” (article 1, alinéa 2 du Code civil suisse).

Les livres sont aussi notables par leur aspect physique et représentent un intérêt en tant que les artefacts dévoilant les pratiques bibliophiliques du passé. Remarques sur les loix est un volume parfaitement préservé et somptueusement relié en plein cuir rouge sang d’époque avec les filets dorés sur les plats, des fleurons et filets dorés au dos à 7 nerfs et les tranches avec un décor très original et riche en bleu paon. Par contre, Cours ou explication du coustumier est un ouvrage d’une apparence simple et visiblement insignifiante avec les pages non-ébarbées, ce qui veut dire avec ses marges conservées et non-égalisées, relié modestement en cartonnage d’époque non-coloré et sans aucun ornement.

Ce contraste frappant est un témoignage d’une étape de l’histoire de l’imprimé : avant l’introduction de la fabrication mécanisée des livres au milieu du XIXe siècle la majorité des livres ont été vendus soit sans aucune reliure, comme cahiers des feuilles pliées, non-cousues et non-coupées, soit avec les reliures très rudimentaires en papier ou en carton. En achetant un livre, le client commandait la reluire permanente chez le vendeur, qui était parfois en même temps l’éditeur et le relieur, sinon chez un autre relieur préféré. Évidemment, Remarques sur les loix aurait appartenu à un bibliophile ou un avocat prospère qui a pu se permettre de l’avoir relié de cette façon assez luxueuse. Le choix de reliure n’était dicté que par sa vanité et ses moyens : un ouvrage pouvait être décoré avec les dorures et les armoiries, relié en peau de vélin, en maroquin, en daim ou en agneau velours, en chagrin, en basane, en tissue, ou en papier coloré. Ainsi, la majorité des livres de l’époque ont survécus jusqu’à nos jours non dans l’état comme ils avaient été vendus mais avec une reliure et une apparence générale façonnée par les gouts d’un de leurs propriétaires. En conséquence, les livres qui, comme c’est le cas du Cours ou explication du coustumier, ont conservés leurs modestes emballages d’origine sont assez rares et font un bel ajout à toute collection.

Law Rare Books: New Additions to our Digitised Collections

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is fortunate to house a special collection on French law of Ancien Regime, the Wainwright Collection. It was formed on a basis of the working library of the renowned French jurist and legal historian Francois Olivier-Martin (1879-1952), doctor of law, professor of the legal history, and a prolific scholar who published more than 60 articles and 9 monographs. The Olivier-Martin’s library reflects with a remarkable accuracy the academic interests of its former owner with three major themes of the collection: French customary law, history of professional corporations, and history of pre-revolutionary French law, which found their manifestation in his three most significant works: Histoire de la coutume de la prévôté et vicomté de Paris (1922-1930), Organisation corporative de la France d’Ancien régime (1938), and Histoire du droit français des origines a la Révolution (1948). Those works, which are unrivaled in their use of primary sources and the breadth of the synthesis, are still widely cited by scholars writing about the history of French law or the history of professional corporations.

The copies of Histoire de la coutume…, Organisation corporative…, and Histoire du droit français… currently held in the McGill Law Library formerly belonged to Francois Olivier-Martin and bear multiple authorial manuscript annotations. book 82

Another feature that makes the McGill’s copies of Histoire de la coutume,and Organisation corporative unique is the fact that they contain more than 100 sheets of Olivier-Martin’s research notes, newspaper clippings, and letters. Notes 1 Notes 5

Recently, all three works as well as the enclosed ephemera have been digitised and now available for viewing and downloading via WorldCat:

New Exhibit at the Law Library: Ancienne collection de François Olivier–Martin : Histoire du droit français des origines à la Révolution

Ancienne collection de François Olivier–Martin : Histoire du droit français des origines à la Révolution

892808083François Jean Marie Olivier-Martin (1879-1952) was a prominent legal historian, doctor of law, and a professor of legal history. He began his academic career at the Faculty of Law of the University of Rennes in 1909. In 1921, he succeeded the famous legal historian Emile Chénon as director of the course on legal history of the University of Paris, where he taught until 1951. Olivier-Martin was a prolific scholar who published more than 60 articles and 9 monographs. His 3 major works unrivaled in their use of primary sources and the breadth of the synthesis are still inevitably cited by scholars writing about the history of pre-revolutionary French law. For his academic achievements Olivier-Martin was awarded multiple Doctor Honoris Causa, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1932 and in 1936 was elected to the “Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres”, one of the five academies of the Institut de France.

In 1956, Doctor Jean-Gabriel Castel, a Professor at the McGill Law Faculty began the negotiations to purchase Olivier-Martin’s collection, which at the time was one of the most comprehensive private law libraries in France. The negotiations were successful, and the library was acquired with the funds generously donated by a former McGill graduate, Arnold Wainwright, a prominent Montreal practitioner, a long-time associate and friend of the Faculty of Law and a part-time lecturer in Civil Law, which he taught at McGill for twenty-five years.

On February 8, 1958, Olivier-Martin’s library of some 770 titles was formally presented to the McGill Law Library and officially renamed the Wainwright Collection. The generosity of Arnold Wainwright, continued through the Wainwright Trust, has enabled the Faculty of Law to purchase in the antiquarian book market many additional titles of interest to add to the original bequest of 1958. The Wainwright Collection today consists of over 1500 titles on the history of the pre-revolutionary French law.

The current exhibit features selected titles that represent the subject focus and the breadth of the original Olivier-Martin library as well as archival documents pertaining to the history of acquisition of the collection.

Olivier-Martin’s library consisted of contemporary commentaries and rare materials on the law of Ancien régime.  His library reflects with remarkable accuracy the academic interests of its former owner with three major themes of the collection: French customary law, History of professional corporations, and History of pre-revolutionary French law crystallised in his three the most significant works: Histoire de la coutume de la prévôté et vicomté de Paris (1922-1930), Organisation corporative de la France d’Ancien régime (1938), and Histoire du droit français des origines a la Révolution (1948).

Nouvel ouvrage sur la genèse de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme

La diplomatie de l’universel : la guerre froide, les États-Unis et la genèse de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme, 1945-1948 par Olivier Barsalou retrace la genèse de la Déclaration universelle des droits de l’Homme de 1948. Ce document adopté par l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies dans la nuit du 10 décembre 1948 marquait l’aboutissement d’un long processus diplomatique ayant duré près de trois ans au cours duquel les États-Unis jouèrent un rôle déterminant dans son élaboration.
S’appuyant sur une méthodologie multidisciplinaire combinant le droit, la science politique et l’histoire, le présent ouvrage revisite les sources matérielles au fondement de la Déclaration et resitue le document dans son contexte historique d’élaboration. Il met en lumière la façon par laquelle les droits de l’Homme furent conçus à la fois comme un enjeu et un instrument de la politique étrangère américaine au sortir de la Seconde Guerre mondiale. À la fois produit et miroir du processus d’émergence de la guerre froide, les droits de l’Homme devinrent dès 1945 un enjeu des relations de pouvoir dans la société internationale.
Cet ouvrage doit être particulièrement intéressant pour la communauté McGillienne comme un de nos professeurs éminent, John Humphry, a été parmi les principaux auteurs de la Déclaration.

The Comic Blackstone / by Gilbert Abbott à Beckett.

“Every gentleman ought to know a little of law, says Coke, and perhaps, say we, the less the better”.
It is not a message intended to discourage our students in their quest for legal wisdom but merely a quotation from the recent addition to the Law Library Rare Books collection, The Comic Blackstone (original 1844 edition).  This witty and infinitely entertaining book was written by Gilbert Abbott à Beckett (1811 –1856), an English humorist, journalist, and a lawyer, who belonged to a family claiming descent from Thomas Becket. It is so well written and so gently humorous that I am sure it will be appreciated even by exams-stressed Law students. These are few more quotes from The Comic Blackstone:

  • “It is a beautiful fiction of the English law that no man pays taxes without his own consent; and, from this assertion, it would naturally be supposed that the tax-gatherers were the very idols of the people, who flocked round them, tendering specie and asking receipts for it. By legal imagery, the people are declared to tax themselves […].” (p. 25)
  • “When the common law differs from the statute law, the latter prevails — and a new statute supersede an old one — which is just turning topside-turvy the principle which governs the common law, where the older the custom happens to be the better. Widdicomb and Methuselah are the two best authorities on questions of common law but this is not germane to the subject.” (p. 12-13)

New Exhibition at the Law Library: Restored Rare Books

We are pleased to announce that we have a new exhibition/ book display at the Law Library. It features a selection of the rare books that were restored in honour of and in recognition of the achievements of several McGill Law Faculty professors and other distinguished members of the Canadian legal community. Each book is accompanied by a book plate and a short description of the work performed by professional restorers.

Rare Books Room Tours Offered

If you would like to know what kind of treasures are kept in the glass enclosed Rare Books Room on the second floor of the Law Library, sign up for a half-an-hour (or longer) tour of the Law Rare Books. To sign up for a tour, please send a request to me, Svetlana Kochkina, svetlana.kochkina@mcgill.ca, and I will notify you when we will have a necessary number of participants.

McGill Book Fair

The McGill Book Fair, held each fall in Redpath Hall, offers tens of thousands of used books, French and English, in all subjects ranging from architecture to zoology. In addition to books, the Book Fair also offers CDs, LPs, DVDs, and sheet music. One room is devoted exclusively to art and architecture, and another to old and rare volumes. Thie fair supports a worthy cause (endowed student bursaries), and the selection of books is outstanding. In 2010, the annual Book Fair donation to the University was $75,000. Come, find a book for you, and support a good cause.

Book Fair 2012:
Tuesday, October 23, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Wednesday, October 24, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday, October 25, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Yale Law Library exhibit: “The Comic Art of Joseph Hemard”

Joseph Hémard (1880-1961), was in his lifetime one of the most prolific French book illustrator. His illustrations are the focus of the latest exhibit in the Yale Law Library, “‘And then I drew for books’: The Comic Art of Joseph Hémard.” The exhibit showcases eight of the 183 illustrations in Hémard’s Tax Code, donated to the Yale Law Library by Farley P. Katz, a tax attorney from San Antonio, who has one of the world’s finest collections of Hémard’s works, and other books from the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection. You can find more information about the exhibit at the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.