Curator’s Picks: Magna Carta’s Legal Legacy

(The following is an article in the November/December 2014 issue of LCM, the Library of Congress Magazine. The issue can be read in its entirety here.)

Nathan Dorn, the Law Library’s curator of rare books, highlights five favorite pieces from the Library’s Magna Carta exhibition.

Statutes of EnglandStatutes of England
“Intricate colored-pen work graces this 14th-century miniature manuscript containing the text of Magna Carta, the Charter of the Forest and the 13th-century statutes of England. This is truly one of the Law Library’s most-treasured items.”

 

 

 

 

Statuta NovaStatuta Nova
“Magna Carta’s guarantees originally applied only to people from the top of the social hierarchy. ‘Statuta Nova,’ a medieval book of the statutes of England, contains a 1354 statute that extended those guarantees to ‘a man of any estate whatsoever.’ The first instance of the phrase ‘due process of law’ also appears in this statute.”

 

 

 

 

Institutes of Laws of England (r)Sir Edward Coke on Magna Carta
“For more than a century, colonial America learned English law from Sir Edward Coke’s ‘Institutes of the Laws of England.’ Coke claimed in this work that Magna Carta secured inviolable liberties for individuals. This copy belonged to Thomas Jefferson.”

 

 

 

 

 

John DickinsonMagna Carta, the Touchstone
“John Dickinson, chair of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Rights and Grievances for the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, rests an arm on Magna Carta in this engraving copied from the 1772 edition of ‘An Astronomical Diary.’ Coke’s ‘Institutes’ is placed prominently on his bookshelf above.”

 

 

 

 

Prints and Photographs Division.

Prints and Photographs Division.

Defying King John
“Heroic outlaw Robin Hood faces down King John in this lithograph advertising the 1895 play ‘Runnymede.’ Magna Carta makes an appearance in the play when an unhappy John finds that Chapter 39 prohibits him from murdering Robin Hood.”

 

 

All images from the Law Library of Congress, except where noted. 

Abraham Lincoln’s “Blind Memorandum”

(The following is a guest post by Michelle Krowl, a historian in the Library of Congress Manuscript Division.) Could George B. McClellan have become the seventeenth President of the United States? It certainly appeared to be a possibility as Abraham Lincoln assessed the military and political landscape of the United States in the summer of […]

Junior Fellows Show Off Summer Finds

(The following is an article written by Rosemary Girard, intern in the Library of Congress Office of Communications, for the Library staff newsletter, The Gazette.) After weeks of researching, curating and unearthing some of the Library of Congress’s millions of artifacts, members of the Junior Fellows Program had a chance to present their most interesting […]

Library Welcomes New Blog, NLS Music Notes

The Library adds another blog into its blogosphere today. Welcome NLS Music Notes. The blog is designed to share information about the services of the Music Section of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and its special format music collection: in braille, large print and audio. The blog will highlight the […]

Go See “Now See Hear!” Now

Today the Library adds another entry in its growing family of blogs. “Now See Hear!” gives our specialists in the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center a place to showcase some of the amazing treasures of our national audiovisual heritage. This is a place where Fugazi, Louis Armstrong, Jack Benny, Carole King, Buck Owens, […]

A Millennium of Persian Literature

(The following is guest post by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette.) Persian first gained prominence a thousand years ago, a language of literature, poetry and folklore that connected people across vast stretches of Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Library of Congress today opens “A Thousand Years of the Persian Book,” the first […]

Celebrating Creative Women: Rare and Special Collections

I am obnoxious to each carping tongue Who says my hand a needle better fits, A Poets pen all scorn I should thus wrong, For such despite they cast on Female wits: If what I do prove well, it won’t advance, They’l say it’s stoln, or else it was by chance. – Anne Bradstreet, 1678 […]

InRetrospect: February 2014 Blogging Edition

Between winter and the winter olympics, the Library of Congress blogosphere offered up a variety of posts during February. Here is a sampling: In The Muse: Performing Arts Blog ASCAP on the Occasion of its 100th Birthday with Jimmy Webb and Paul Williams The Library celebrates ASCAP. From the Catbird Seat: Poetry & Literature at […]

Ten Thousand Treasures

The World Digital Library – a website of world cultural treasures offered free of charge in seven languages to anyone on the planet with access to the Internet – has put up its 10,000th offering. It was part of a package, actually – a group of rare manuscripts from the collections of the Walters Art […]