New this semester: What law books are on the original library shelves?

Welcome back to the Spring 2017 semester! Recent graduate Erik Berner will be sharing the outcome of his investigation of the titles in the Secular Legislation section of the Legislation division of the original library catalog over the coming weeks. His introductory post follows. Check back regularly in the coming weeks for posts on the specific titles in this division.

Listing of the Legislation Division from the index of the original St. Ignatius College library catalog.

Listing of the Legislation Division from the index of the original St. Ignatius College library catalog.

Last spring I explored whether the Jesuits at St. Ignatius College (precursor to Loyola University Chicago) might have been trying to found a law school at the end of the nineteenth century. Nearly forty years elapsed between the founding of the St Ignatius College and the founding of its law school. The college’s original library catalog provided potential evidence of whether the Jesuits intended to educate students for the law earlier, as I explored in my posts here and here.

In the end, I concluded it was unlikely that the Jesuit founders of St. Ignatius gathered the books in the secular law section of their library with the express intent of founding a law school. Nevertheless, they managed to assemble an impressive collection, whether by seeking out books with a specific intent or taking what was available to them. The Harvard method of institutionalized, formal, legal education at the university level had only just been begun by Joseph Story the year this catalog was compiled. Up to this point, most legal education was undertaken through apprenticeships with established lawyers. The St. Ignatius collection contained many of the essential texts for a legal education at the time, but its lack of certain seminal texts, such as Blackstone’s Commentaries, led me to conclude the collection was for the reference of the Jesuits more than for a comprehensive legal education of their students.

In the original c.1878 catalog, the Legislation Division contained 68 titles: 30 in Secular Legislation and 38 in Ecclesiastical Legislation. I focused on the Secular Legislation collection. The books can be divided into seven distinct segments: Ancient Law, British Law, Continental European Law, US Law (subdivided into Colonial and Post-Colonial), General Laws and Statutes (text of the law), Personal Reference/Commentary (texts about the law, intended for general readership), and Academic (texts about the law, expressly intended for scholarly/academic use). Though some of these books have disappeared, many are still in circulation, or held in the Special Collections, of Loyola university libraries today. I have created an annotated bibliography of each section by researching extant texts (and using digital surrogates of lost texts), as well as looking at the the authors, publishers, background information, and influence of the works themselves on the country and legal education. I will be publishing the segments over the coming weeks, giving readers of the JLPP blog some idea of the nature of these books, both as texts and as physical objects, and their potential purpose within the St. Ignatius Collection.

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