We'll close at midnight, our regularly scheduled time.
Tunisia, Egypt, Fiji, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Libya, South Sudan and Hungary have all produced new constitutions in the past few years. Each of these constitutions arose in different political circumstances, but how, in general, does a nation produce a new constitution? UVa law professor Mila Versteeg and co-author Benedikt Goderis argue that building a new constitution does not occur in national isolation. Constitutions, they say, are “shaped by transnational influence, or diffusion.” New constitutions are based on other countries’ constitutions and their constitutional experiences.
To make the job of drawing from or comparing the constitutions of countries around the world easier, the Comparative Constitutions Project developed the Constitute Project. Constitute contains English versions of the constitutions of “nearly every independent state in the world” along with a more limited number in Arabic. With subject tags, Constitute makes comparing the provisions of different constitutions easy. For example, you can easily pull up all of the constitutional provisions from around the world tagged as protecting equality regardless of gender. From there, you could select certain countries’ provisions to compare directly in a side-by-side screen. You can easily switch which countries to view in your comparison and pin those comparisons so that you can download them all as a document or CSV file. For users needing more targeted queries of the Constitute data, they have provided a SPARQL endpoint.
Constitute has a smooth, intuitive interface that makes comparative constitutional work easier. Since it focuses on constitutions currently in force and does not include historical constitutions, it may be of limited use for scholars seeking to trace constitutional trends over time. For many users, though, who are examining how current constitutions across the world treat particular topics, it’s a valuable (and free) resource.
- Ben Doherty
You’re welcome to 15-minute meditation breaks, every Monday at 3pm and Wednesday at noon in the Library’s Klaus Room (2nd floor). No prior meditation experience or registration required – just come on in, sit in a comfy easy chair, & relax as we follow along with a short guided meditation.
- Kristin Glover
February 5 through April 2
- Kristin Glover
His name adorns the library entrance, extending a silent welcome to all in our community who seek to learn the law. Though he never utters a word aloud (it is a library, after all), his face faithfully greets us every day. He is a staunch promoter of our events. Around holidays, he reminds us to celebrate our good times, then he is wholly empathetic during our times of greatest stress.
Who was Arthur J. Morris before he became the name and the face of the University of Virginia Law Library? North Carolina writer and commentator Warren Bingham tells us about Morris in his article just published in the Winter 2014 issue of Carolina Banker. In "A North Carolina Native You Should Know: Arthur J. Morris," Bingham shares that Morris had to finance his own education at the Law School ('01) after his father learned of his gambling and cut off finances. Morris went into banking after law school, eventually creating a new kind of bank that gave credit-seeking wage workers an alternative to loan sharks. The Morris Banks became established in 40 states and helped create the American middle class.
Bingham calls Morris "the father of consumer credit in America." We'll still call him AJM.
- Amy Wharton
Breathe through the homestretch of finals period during our last two 15-minute guided meditation breaks of the semester -- Monday, December 15 at 12:30pm and Wednesday, December 17 at 3:30pm in the Law Library’s Klaus Room.
Anytime during finals period you’re welcome to take your own meditation break in the Klaus Room, where you’ll find meditation cushions, audio CDs, magazines, and books about mindfulness and meditation.
- Kristin Glover
In 1766, British economic writer Malachy Postlethwayt argued that the grand commercial ambitions of the British empire started with good bookkeeping, proper paperwork, and some knowledge about people beyond London. To equip eager young traders to grow British overseas commerce, and by extension the royal revenue, after the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Postlethwayt penned a new edition of his Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce, rich with explanations of the mechanics of trade. The Law Library is thrilled to add Volume 1 of this eighteenth-century guide to the globe to its Special Collections as part of the Library’s ongoing project to acquire duplicate editions of the law books listed in the U.Va. Library Catalogue of 1828. Both volumes of Postlethwayt’s Dictionary formed part of the U.Va. Library’s original collections on mercantile law.
For the modern reader, as for the young U.Va. student perusing this reference in the University library in the 1820s, Postlethwayt’s Dictionary explains the vocabulary, products, and practices of eighteenth-century commerce from the London Custom House to the north African caravan. Curious how bills of exchange worked? Check the section on Banking. Wondering about the pearl fishery off of southern India? See the section on East India Trade. Pondering whether eighteenth-century British consumers are likely to continue their new practice of coffee drinking? See Postlethwayt’s thoughts under Coffee. (Spoiler: Yes. Postlethwayt praised coffee for clearing the head and relieving sleepiness, though he warned that drinking too much in one day would surely hazard the “repose of the night.” A stickler for the good stuff, Postlethwayt advised that “coffee which is newly ground has the most virtue.”)
With commerce always enmeshed in matters of geography, language, and especially law, Postlethwayt’s Dictionary offers a detailed look not only into the minutiae of trade—swearing oaths at the Custom House, filling out double-entry ledgers—but also the lives of those who engaged in or supported trade around London and around the globe. Postlethwayt had specific advice for British merchants who often found themselves entangled in legal disputes: find an honest, able, and experienced attorney at law. Attorneys were gentlemen and scholars, Postlethwayt wrote, who started clerkships at sixteen, understood Latin and French, knew their way around ancient deeds, wrote well, and could unravel any business account laid before them.
At four inches thick, Volume 1 of Postlethwayt’s Universal Dictionary covers letters A to K and adds to the U.Va. Law Library’s rich collections on the historical practice of law. Special Collections hopes to add the second volume to its inventory in the future.
- Randi Flaherty
Peter Groenewegen, ‘Postlethwayt, Malachy (1707–1767)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2013 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/22599, accessed 28 Oct 2014]
 Malachy Postlethwayt and Jacques Savary des Brûlons. The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce: With Large Additions and Improvements, Adapting the Same to the Present State of British Affairs in America, Since the Last Treaty of Peace Made in the Year 1763. With Great Variety of New Remarks and Illustrations Incorporated Throughout the Whole: Together with Everything Essential That Is Contained in Savary's Dictionary: Also, All the Material Laws of Trade and Navigation Relating to These Kingdoms, and the Customs and Usages to Which All Traders Are Subject. (London: H. Woodfall, 1766.)
 Postlethwayt’s Universal Dictionary provided a British perspective on these topics, though Postlethwayt also borrowed liberally from a previous dictionary by the Frenchman Jacques Savary des Brûlons.
This week Sir Henry Spelman’s Discourse on Law Terms, an explanation of Jewish, Grecian, Roman, Norman, and Saxon law published in London in 1684, arrived at the University of Virginia Law Library well-preserved and with that smoky smell of many readings beside a fireplace.
The acquisition of Spelman’s work continues a forty-year effort by the Law Library’s Special Collections to reconstruct the collection of 375 law books listed in the 1828 Catalogue of the University of Virginia library. Many of the titles inventoried in 1828 burned in the U.Va. Rotunda and Annex fire of 1895 or scattered over time. To date, Special Collections has acquired duplicate editions—the same as those originally acquired by the University of Virginia— of 318 law texts from the 1828 library Catalogue. This Spelman acquisition is currently the only physical copy of Law Terms within the University of Virginia Library system.
How did Spelman’s Law Terms become part of the University’s original library? Thomas Jefferson. In 1825, Jefferson compiled a 7,000-volume wish list of books, including Spelman’s Law Terms, to guide acquisitions for the new University of Virginia library. Jefferson, who believed law dictionaries would be a “1st want” of the original thirty students to study law at the University in 1826, likely selected Spelman’s Law Terms from John Clarke’s Bibliotheca Legum, published in London in 1819 and Jefferson’s go-to guide for law titles, or from his own personal library. In 1825, the University hired Boston booksellers Cummings, Hilliard & Company to acquire books for the University library using Jefferson’s book list, and the firm purchased Law Terms in London along with many of the titles in the original library inventory.
After a quick stop for some preservation, the Law Library is excited to add Spelman’s Law Terms to its Special Collections and make it available to students and researchers. Meanwhile, Special Collections staff continue the hunt for the missing 1828 Catalogue texts!
For more information on the 1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection or to research other items at the Law Library Special Collections, see our webpage or contact Special Collections at email@example.com.
- Randi Flaherty
Handley, Stuart. “Spelman, Sir Henry (1563/4–1641).” Stuart Handley In Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed., edited by Lawrence Goldman, October 2005. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26104 (accessed October 9, 2014).
University of Virginia, and William Peden. 1828 Catalogue of the Library of the University of Virginia. Charlottesville: Printed for the Alderman Library of the University of Virginia, 1945.
1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection at the University of Virginia Law School Special Collections: http://lib.law.virginia.edu/specialcollections/collections/1828-catalogue
Thomas Jefferson’s Libraries Project at Monticello: http://tjlibraries.monticello.org/
 Henry Spelman, Of the law-terms, a discourse wherein the laws of the Jews, Grecians, Romans, Saxons and Normans, relating to this subject are fully explained (London: Printed for Matthew Gillyflower, 1684).
 Thomas Jefferson to Cummings, Hilliard & Company, April 22, 1826, printed in Elizabeth Cometti, ed., Jefferson’s Ideas on a University Library: Letters from the Founder of the University of Virginia to a Boston Bookseller (Charlottesville: The University of Virginia, 1950), 43. For Jefferson’s reliance on John Clarke’s Catalogue, see Thomas Jefferson to William Hilliard, August 7, 1825 in the same volume. John Clarke, Clarke's Bibliotheca Legum; Or, Complete Catalogue of the Common and Statute Law-books of the United Kingdom, with an Account of Their Dates and Prices, Arranged in a New Manner. New ed. (London: W. Clarke and Sons, 1819).
From arsonists to rock stars, crime bosses to ... killer clowns?? Gina Wohlsdorf, curator of "The Courtroom Sketches of Ida Libby Dengrove," shares her perspective on the exhibit and its creation. Print renderings of the sketches will be on display at the Law Library through May 2015 and a digital exhibit is available on our website.
- Amy Wharton
Want to keep up with what’s happening in Congress and in state legislatures? Check out one of the Law Library’s newest database offerings – FiscalNote. FiscalNote’s team of software and public policy entrepreneurs (including a U.Va. Law alum) have developed software and a fun, user-friendly interface that puts at people’s fingertips volumes of information that would take lots of capitol insiders tons of time to compile. FiscalNote gives you not only loads of information, but also crunches that information to predict whether bills will pass. And it delivers straight to your email inbox, via alerts you customize to your interests. Part of the start-up’s mission is to “foster a transparent political and legal system,” and they’ve been attracting press (see #5 of 11) and venture capital interest. See what the buzz is about by signing up for a password.
- Kristin Glover