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Hugo Grotius

March 17, 2015

The Hugo Grotius display is the first in a series of library displays in which we will be providing little-known information about famous legal figures.

Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) is widely known as “the father of international law,” but he was also imprisoned for his anti-Calvinist writings in 1619. After 20 months of his imprisonment, during which he was allowed shipments of books and linens from home, his wife arranged for his escape by boring holes in the book trunk and hiding him in it. Because the guards were so accustomed to her frequent visits, they stopped inspecting the trunk, and Grotius fairly easily made his escape.

Among the items displayed is the very rare, original 1619 trial court sentencing document, The sentence of eternal imprisonment pronounced against Hugo Grotius in the extraordinary trial for laesa maiestas, Rotterdam, May 18, 1619.

The Library’s Grotius collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the country.  For more information, see an overview of our Special Collections.

The library display is located on the first floor, near the circulation desk.


Congratulations to Our Lawlapalooza Kindle Winner

February 12, 2015

We’re pleased to announce that our 2015 Lawlapalooza Kindle winner is Jonathan Bialosky.  Scott Pagel, Director and Professor of Law, presented Jonathan with his Kindle.  Find out more about Lawlapalooza 2015.

Thanks to all who attended our research fair and made it a great success!

Lawlapalooza 2015 – You’re Invited!

February 5, 2015
Lawlapalooza Banner
Wish you were more informed about library services and resources or knew how to do legal research better?  Come to Lawlapaloozaa research fair hosted by the Jacob Burns Law Library.
Date: Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Time: 11am– 3:00pm
Location: Stockton Hall Lounges
GW Law students can earn pizza and enter a drawing for a Kindle Fire HDX by chatting with representatives from vendors who provide the Library with products and electronic resources and by viewing a librarian-created Information Blast to learn more about Library services available to help you succeed.
See our online guide to Lawlapalooza to learn more!

Downton Abbey and the Law

February 2, 2015
Library Display

As any Downton Abbey fan knows, the popular show includes lots of plot twists and turns based on British law in the early 20th Century.  A male only entail that tied up the title and the estate created the first dramatic crisis for the Earl of Grantham, when the Earl and his wife learn that his heir perished along with his son on the ill-fated Titanic.  Without a male heir, the estate and the title would be no more as Lord Robert’s daughters were not eligible to inherit.  The family turned to Matthew Crawley, a male third cousin once-removed, who fittingly was a solicitor.

Just as this season hits its mid-point on PBS, our first floor Downton Abbey display takes a closer look at some of the legal issues that were central to the last four seasons, including the entail and death taxes.  (Unfortunately, Mr. Bates’ legal woes are just too big for our display case!  Tune in to find out more about Mr. Bates and his trials and tribulations.)  Included in our display is the text from the recent bill before the British Parliament to end male only primogeniture for aristocratic titles, how death taxes would have affected the estate after Matthew’s death, and some fun quotes from our favorite Downton Abbey characters.

Be sure to stop by before this season ends!

Battle of New Orleans

January 8, 2015

On January 8, 1815, Gen. Andrew Jackson led American troops to victory in a British attack on New Orleans.  The battle, the last major battle in the War of 1812, was fought after peace was declared with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent between the United States and Great Britain on December 24, 1814.  It was ratified by the United States Senate on February 18, 1815.  The treaty restored each country to its position prior to the outbreak of war:  it restored conquered territory, reestablish boundaries, and returned prisoners.  The treaty did not specifically prohibit impressment, but the British Navy’s need for sailors decreased significantly with the defeat of Napoleon in 1814.

The United States declared war on Great Britain in June  1812 over the impressment of unwilling U.S. citizens into the British navy, the economic blockade of France and the neutrality of United States vessels and British support of hostile tribes of Native Americans along the Mississippi.

The Treaty of Ghent was not the first treaty to settle a dispute for the young nation.  For example, the Barbary Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed in 1796 and ratified in 1797 to end state-sponsored piracy by the Bey of Tripoli along the northern coast of Africa.

For more on the War of 1812 and the treaty, see:

Louis Fisher.  Presidential War Powers.

William Milligan Sloane.  The Treaty of Ghent:  An Address Delivered to the New York Historical Society on Its One Hundred and Tenth Anniversary (Nov. 17, 1914).



National Film Registry

December 17, 2014

The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress announced titles added to its registry of films for 2014.  Twenty-five films are added each year to increase awareness of the Registry’s efforts to preserve film.  Films are selected for their cultural, historical or aesthetic significance; films must have been released at least 10 years prior to inclusion on the list.

The Registry includes a diverse list of narrative features (including blockbusters as well as silent films), animated features, and documentaries – including Bullitt (1968), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse (1940).  Some of the law related titles include 12 Angry Men (1957), Adam’s Rib (1949), Anatomy of  Murder (1959), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), To Kill a Mockingbird Bird (1962) , and Young Mr. Lincoln (1939).

Other lists of law-related feature films include the ABA Journal’s The 25 Greatest Legal Movies and IMDb:  Law Related Films.

Fa la la la Library: Booked for the Holidays

December 11, 2014
Fa-la-la-la Library

Celebrate the season and view our window display.  Every component in the display is made from recycled and upcycled discarded library books.  The display was submitted to the Events division for the university door decorating contest.

The angels and the Joy book were made by folding the pages of books.  The wreath and ornaments were created with the pages of books.  Also the fireplace, mantel and logs were created from book pages.  A few of the components took several hours to create, but the results were worth the time.

View the display from the University Yard – the window is in the alcove closest to the bike rack by the brick and iron railing.

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