This is a guest post by Anne Guha, who was an intern with the Law Library’s Public Services Division this spring and is now working in Public Services.
We recently received a fascinating inquiry from a fellow law librarian through our Ask a Librarian system, and with her permission, would like to share the results with you. This patron hailed from the George Mason University Law Library in Arlington, Virginia, and she was looking to learn about our collection of Soule & Bugbee’s Legal Bibliography (1881-1883) and its continuing title, Legal Bibliography (1884-1890), which took over starting with issue number 5. This periodical, published by Boston legal publishers Soule & Bugbee (and later just by Charles C. Soule), was “published and distributed gratuitously at irregular intervals,” mailed out to judges, lawyers, and law students, who were in turn encouraged to pass the issues around to other legal practitioners (“Show this paper to other Lawyers” it declares on several of its covers):
The Law Library of Congress is fortunate to have issue numbers 3-11 of this fascinating periodical, which included advertisements for a wide variety of recently released or forthcoming legal publications by various publishers, in addition to a number of other interesting features. Soule & Bugbee’s printed book notes, descriptions, publication dates, excerpts – and, of course, prices! – for various types of materials, such as legal reference manuals, treatises, books for law students, reporters, “odd reports, “rare old law books, “old civil-law books,” and “special lists of bargains:”
The various sales pitches are quite fun and interesting to read. In issue number 4, they write: “We ask your subscription for the Fourth Edition of Chitty’s (English) Equity Index”, a digest of equity reports, which could be ordered “in sheep or in half calf,” and which “every library needs”: In number 3 we learn that Green Brice’s Ultra Vires is, “in many respects, the most serviceable book on Corporation Law,” and that Baylies on Sureties and Guarantors is “more satisfactory than any other work on these subjects”:
Number 4 also contains “Reading for leisure hours,” a “list of publications [...] which are intended for the amusement and recreation of lawyers,” including titles such as Browne’s Law and Lawyers in Literature and Heard’s Oddities of the Law.
Other issues contain additional notable items.
Several, for example, include illustrations and engravings:
Issue 5 included a loose illustration of Sir Matthew Hale, declaring on page 4: “What is a coif? — Can any reader tell whether the head-gear of Chief Justice Hale, as represented in the engraving accompanying this paper, is a coif or not?”
This periodical also occasionally printed short articles and features, such as pronunciation tables for names of English and American reporters and legal authors, which, according to issue number 4, “seem to be liable to mispronunciation,” or, in issue 3, an update on “the famous bug case”:
A few of the issues have advertisements for law schools, such as issue number 8, which places their illustrious names alongside a full-column-length advertisement for Horsford’s Acid Phosphate (“For Dyspepsia, Mental and Physical Exhaustion, Nervousness, Diminished Vitality, etc. [...] Beware of Imitations!”):
What spurred our patron’s interest in this publication? It turns out that this periodical is something of a predecessor to George Mason University Law School’s own law journal, The Green Bag: An Entertaining Journal of Law. George Mason’s Green Bag was inspired by a legal magazine of the same name, published by Charles C. Soule, which is announced here in issue number 11 of Legal Bibliography:
In a nod to its forebearer publication, George Mason’s modern Green Bag is planning to publish a scholarly edition of the whole Legal Bibliography series.