The Law Library Celebrates Fifty Years of BLSA

Fifty years ago, on Friday, October 16, 1970, UVA Law’s Black students formed the Black American Law Students Association (BALSA, now BLSA), a chapter of the National Black Law Students Association. BLSA addressed the growing need for a formal body to voice racial and equity concerns, both at UVA Law and within the Charlottesville community, and establish lasting solutions. In 1970, BLSA members advocated for greater recruitment efforts to increase the number of Black students at the Law School and for greater transparency in the faculty hiring process. At the time, there was not a single Black person on the Law faculty. 

Front page of the Virginia Law Weekly, 23 October 1970. The headline on the left reads "Blacks Inaugurate BALSA Chapter to Provide Forum."
Image Courtesy Virginia Law Weekly.

UVA Law hired its first Black professor, Larry Gibson, in 1972 due in large part to BLSA’s persistent advocacy and strong leadership. To learn more about BLSA’s resilient efforts to increase diversity at UVA Law during its first decade, check out this Spring 2018 article from the UVA Lawyer.

Larry Gibson, Law Professor at UVA from 1972 to 1974.

Through the years, BLSA has pushed for change beyond faculty hiring and student recruitment. BLSA has provided legal services for underserved members of the Charlottesville community, staged successful protests, boycotts, and teach-ins, addressed national issues, and collaborated with the Black Student Alliance, UVA’s undergraduate Black student coalition. As an advocate for racial justice at the Law School, BLSA has also served as a social and philanthropic organization that proudly represents the Law School while always holding it accountable. 

Today, the UVA Law Library Special Collections team is proud to announce our collaboration with BLSA to produce an online exhibit on the organization’s history, set to be released in February 2021 in conjunction with Black History Month. 

We encourage readers to explore BLSA’s social media to learn more about the organization’s history and discover their commemorative efforts and activities. Follow BLSA on Twitter @UVABLSA, find them on Facebook, and check out their website here. 

For further reading:

How BALSA Began, UVA Law News, 9 October 2020 

Photos from 50 Years of BLSA, UVA Law News, 13 October 2020  

UVA BLSA Wins Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Year, 20 February 2020 

Black Law Students Mattered, UVA Lawyer, Spring 2018

UVA Law Special Collections Archives

Select articles from the Virginia Law Weekly [Requires Netbadge login]:

Letter from BLSA to the Editors denouncing implicit racism in editorial published in previous issue, 16 October 1970

Blacks Inaugurate BALSA Chapter to Provide Forum, 23 October 1970

Black Students Request Inquiry by Government, 24 March 1972

BALSA Aids Recruitment of Minorities to Law School, 3 November 1972

BALSA Stages Teach-In; Urges Boycott of Classes, 28 October 1983

Almost 200 Participate in Boycott, 18 November 1983

Robinson Proves You Can Go Home Again, 21 September 1984

BLSA urges divestiture of University funds, 15 February 1985

Focus on Diversity: Is U.Va. Doing Enough? A Call for Diversification, 13 April 1990

Mere Sacrifices: BLSA’s Contribution to the Community, 8 November 1996

BLSA Wins National Chapter of the Year Award, 4 April 2003


Header image: Black American Law Students Association (BALSA, now BLSA) officers, 1974.

Back row, left to right: Ronald R. Wesley ’75, Kester I. Crosse ’75, and Dennis L. Montgomery ’75. 

Front row, left to right: Delores R. Boyd ’75, Jan Freeman ’75, and Sheila Jackson Lee ’75.

Written by

Addie Patrick

My name is Addie Patrick and I am a recent graduate of UVA's College of Arts and Sciences, class of 2020. I'm currently serving as a special collections assistant.

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A Diary of a Lonely Librarian, Part 6

Chronicles of sadness and strangeness in the time of COVID-19

Monday, May 11: I feel like Zoom meetings are the LaCroix Sparkling Water of human contact. I acknowledge that many of the people I love care a lot for LaCroix. And, when I’m at a picnic on a hot day, I’ll give it a chance and reach into the cooler and dig through the ice for a Pamplemousse LaCroix (the flavor name that makes me feel more traveled). But as soon as I take a sip, I know what I really want is an Orange Crush. Some actual flavor. It’s going to be a while before we can freely see one another safely in person again, and online get-togethers are just not a flavorful replacement. I miss actually being in the same space, being able to read subtle facial expressions or body language, and being able to flow with a group conversation without having to pause between statements to make sure I’m not talking over someone else on the video. NONETHELESS, I attended the most delightful Zoom meeting today. My co-worker, Kate, asked me to participate in a Zoom call with some colleagues from Stanford Law Library as they discussed how law libraries can support student wellness right now. It was the best thing I’ve done all week. We had a really nice conversation and I got to spend an hour with some really pleasant and creative people who I might not have otherwise met, talking about issues we all care about as librarians. Kate and I are on the East Coast. They are on the West Coast. We might have met at a conference, but also likely not. Now I hope to see them in person one day when that’s again possible. I often finish Zoom meetings these days feeling tired and frustrated. This one was actually affirming. It reminded me of a blog that a good friend recommended to me for right now called Alive, Awake & Making It Through. Recently, the author wrote of “How to miss the world”: “Let yourself dream. . . . Once you feel into what you miss and why that matters to you, let yourself envision the ways in which aspects might arrive to you in new and unexpected form. We don’t know what’s coming, but we know it won’t be only loss. Things will arrive. What might they be?” I miss people. I miss human contact. I miss the spontaneity of in-person conversations. I miss hugs. Zoom meetings are a pale comparison. But if they can remind me of what I love about human contact and get me through to when we can all be with one another again, then I’ll take them.

Tuesday, May 12: The law school lawn is empty where, right now, there would normally be a flurry of activity. Every year, during this week between the end of final exams and graduation, a facilities team would be setting up the lawn for graduation. In just a couple days, they usually set out hundreds and hundreds of chairs, all carefully aligned, covering the main lawn and the two grassy areas beside it. They build a stage with exit and entrance ramps. Tents. It’s pretty amazing work. And then they take it all down even more quickly immediately after graduation. Not this year. This year the lawn is empty. It looks very pretty, but it feels lonely as I sit out here, taking a break on my one day at the library this week. I feel bad for the students and their families. Celebrating accomplishments is important and graduating from law school is a big one. Graduation will, with hope, take place in person in the Fall instead, and this weekend there will be online ceremonies. Personally, I miss seeing the hundreds of chairs all ready to go—it’s always a nice marker of time.

Wednesday, May 13: I checked in with my library gymnastics coach today. We can only check in through online chat, so we have to summarize how to do a cartwheel or a round off just using written words, which is definitely hard. She said I was doing a good job working hard at practice! “Working hard at practice” seemed like a good method of encouragement, without passing any judgment on the measurable results, or lack thereof, of the practice. I can say that I no longer get spots in my eyes when I do cartwheels, so that’s measurable improvement. We discussed how I seem to find round offs a little easier than cartwheels. I think that’s because a good-looking cartwheel correlates with one’s ability to do a split, and on the spectrum of split ability, I definitely fall on the “cannot do a split” side of things. I have been practicing my back bridges, which I last did in high school 30 years ago, and which I’m hoping will help when I get to the back walkover point. Who knew that being a librarian was so hard!

Written by

Ben Doherty

Ben is a research librarian and Head of Instructional Services at the Law Library. He has worked at the Law Library since 2004.

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Don’t be afraid to ask your question!

“I was scared to ask questions. I didn’t want to bother anyone. I also didn’t want them to think I was stupid.”

In a study of library usage, that’s how one student described their feelings about research.[1] Do you sometimes feel the same way? If so, I have a message for you: Don’t be afraid to ask your question! Here at the reference desk, it’s our job to answer research questions. We enjoy it, we’re happy to help you, and we’ve heard just about everything. We will not think you’re stupid.

In case you aren’t convinced, let me assure you that your classmates experience many of the same challenges you do. For example:

  • You’re not the only one who finds the Bluebook confusing. Heck, I sometimes find the Bluebook confusing, and I’ve been using it for 15 years. It’s full of detailed rules, and those rules don’t always apply cleanly to real-world documents. The reference desk gets tons of questions about citation format, and we’re always happy to help.
  • There are plenty of sources that your classmates don’t know how to find. Legal scholarship and practice employ sources that you probably didn’t use as an undergrad, including some that don’t come up in 1L research orientation. Having a hard time finding a Congressional document, regulatory materials, or something else? Ask us. I promise you won’t be the first.
  • If a source is difficult for you to use, it’s probably challenging for your classmates, too. Many legal sources are unintuitive. Some of them are poorly written or aimed at researchers with specific expertise. As a legal professional, you’re capable of evaluating the quality and usefulness of sources. If a resource doesn’t meet your needs, try something else. If you’re having trouble navigating a source, you guessed it—ask us for help!

Remember, everyone encounters challenges during research projects. The next time you’re having trouble, we hope you’ll feel comfortable asking a reference librarian for help!

[1] Constance A. Mellon, Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and Its Development, 47 C. & Res. Libr. 160, 163 (1986).

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Research Tips for Interview Season

“Do you have any questions for us?” Make the most of your response to this interview question with a little bit of legal research into the firms, attorneys, and judges you’re meeting with. After you’ve read the firms’ websites, here is how to get to know your prospective employers’ work even better:

  • Litigation Snapshot – Get a visual overview of the types of cases a firm or attorney has worked on in Westlaw’s and Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Analytics (click the link from the databases’ main screens). Search by name and you’ll see graphics categorizing cases they’ve handled, jurisdictions they practice in, corporate clients, and links to case dockets.
  • Clerkships – Read your judges’ case opinions in Westlaw or Lexis:
    1. Go to “Cases.”
    2. Narrow to your judge’s jurisdiction.
    3. Click the “Advanced” search link near the searchbox.
    4. Scroll down the template to fill in the judge name box. When constructing your name search, try proximity connectors and wildcards to account for middle initials and abbreviations (s! /3 alito for Samuel Alito), or try just the last name.
    5. Run the search. You can sort the results to focus on the judge’s most cited opinions using the sort dropdown in the top right of Westlaw’s results list and the lefthand filter in Lexis’. Bloomberg Law’s federal district judge Litigation Analytics links to their most cited court opinions and shows top case types.
  • Your practice areas – Have more to say at callback lunches by signing up for Bloomberg Law and Law360 practice area news alerts. Bloomberg Law has email newsletters for Mergers & Antitrust, Health Law & Business, IP Law, and more. Sign up by going to “News & Analysis” > Bloomberg Law News, choosing your topic areas, and clicking the “subscribe to newsletter” link. Law360 has sixty topic and jurisdiction email newsletters including White Collar, Environment, New York, Massachusetts, and Texas. Access Law360 via Lexis (click the tic-tac-toe in the upper left of the main screen) or LawWeb. Click the link under the main page’s logo to “see all 60 sections” and subscribe to individual newsletters.
  • SCOTUS – Stay up to speed on the cases everyone will be talking about this year by perusing SCOTUSblog’s list of U.S. Supreme Court pending cases. The case pages link to filings, commentary, and email update sign-ups.

Need a Bloomberg Law account? Register here (use your @virginia.edu address). Forgot your Westlaw or Lexis law school account sign-in information? Click the links under “Law Databases” on our homepage to reach sign-in pages with forgotten password instructions, or see our FAQ with representatives’ contact information.

Written by

Kristin Glover

Kristin Glover is a Research Librarian at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library.

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A Law Library Tradition: The “JAG Cake” Through the Years

For decades, the University of Virginia School of Law has had a special relationship with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School (or “JAG School”), its neighbor on North Grounds. This relationship extends to the schools’ law libraries. The two libraries share materials, assist each other’s students, and observe a fun (and delicious) tradition: for more than 25 years, JAG School Library Director Dan Lavering has presented UVA’s staff with a year-end thank-you cake. We refer to this gift as the “JAG cake.” Without fail, the JAG Cake is generously sized and beautifully decorated.

A cake decorated with an American flag; beside it, a woman holding a bread knife stands arm-in-arm with a man leaning on an umbrella.
Former Law Library Director Taylor Fitchett (left) and JAG School Library Director Dan Lavering (right) prepare to cut the 2008 JAG Cake.

Our earliest record of the JAG Cake is a thank-you note sent in 1993 from UVA Law Librarian Larry Wenger to Lavering. “The cake was a wonderful end-of-the-year celebration for us,” Wenger wrote. He thanked the JAG School Law Library for being “exceptionally good about helping out and with sharing duplicate materials from your library with us.”

The current Law Library staff adds its thanks—both for the JAG Cake and for the JAG School’s cooperation throughout the year. Below are some images of the JAG Cake over time.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Research, Instruction & Outreach Librarian, Arthur J. Morris Law Library

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Women’s Legal Rights in UVA’s First Law Library: Baron and Feme

In honor of Women’s History Month, this post by Kelly Fleming discusses the history of women’s legal rights as reflected in the 1828 Catalogue of the Library of the University of Virginia. Kelly is a PhD Candidate in the English Department at UVa, where her research focuses on women’s property rights and political participation in eighteenth-century British novels. She is assisting the Law Library with its 1828 Catalogue digitization project.

Of the 369 law titles in the 1828 Catalogue of the Library of the University of Virginia, only one was explicitly dedicated to the legal status of wives, Baron and Feme: A Treatise of Law and Equity, Concerning Husbands and Wives (U.K. .46 .B265 1738). In fact, it was the first known English legal treatise to focus solely on the laws concerning husbands and wives.[i] Penned by an anonymous author, Baron and Feme was first published in London in 1700 by John Walthoe. It was published again in 1719 by Walthoe and in 1738 by T. Waller, also in London. The university had acquired the 1738 edition for its first library. While the Catalogue entry for Baron and Feme dates the book to 1788, other nineteenth-century catalogues confirm that the original UVA library contained the 1738 edition.

Baron and Feme’s importance as a legal work stemmed from its discussion of the precedents that defined married women’s legal rights in the eighteenth century. In England, married women’s legal rights were defined in common law and equity courts, likely resulting in confusion about what women’s rights actually were. Books such as Baron and Feme consolidated such precedents and made them available for both men and women as a practical litigation guide. Since, like England, Virginia had both common law and chancery courts, Baron and Feme’s discussion of precedent would have informed the way UVA students and local lawyers understood marriage settlements and argued women’s property rights in court.[ii]

Baron and Feme took up the doctrine of coverture from the perspective of both men and women, but with substantially more attention to the legal ramifications of women marrying. A relic of the Norman Conquest, the legal fiction of coverture declared that, after marriage, man and wife were, legally, one person, with the husband acting as representative for both. After marriage, a woman became a feme covert, a “covered woman” wearing the shadow of her husband’s legal existence. Feme coverts were unable to convey property, sign a contract, or execute a will on their own. One of the first chapters describes the unique position feme coverts held in English (as well as early American) law by differentiating them from infants (women and men under the age of 21). Like feme coverts, infants were “disabled by the law,” meaning they were not recognized as persons under the law.[iii] The difference, the anonymous author argued, was as follows: infants were not yet considered persons under the law, but they could perform “any Act for [their] own Advantage,” including binding themselves in a contract.[iv] Feme coverts were not persons and could only legally bind themselves with their husband’s consent.

A vignette of a man and woman exchanging a glance beside a crib.
A depiction of family life from
Godey’s Lady’s Book (1851).

Complicating this comparison, the author did not distinguish between male and female infants despite the legal difficulties female infants would have encountered on account of their gender. While Sir William Blackstone may have famously called women the “favourites ”of the law, the privileges they received were restricted by their ability to negotiate patriarchal family dynamics.[v] In both England and colonial America, patriarchal hierarchies and codes of behavior structured family life. Female infants, despite their ability to contract, were likely to be controlled by a father or male family member who would frustrate any attempt to make legal decisions without his consent. In fact, even their ability to contract was up for question: English courts debated the legality of female infants consenting to a marriage settlement that barred dower in favor of a jointure.[vi] Moreover, daughters who became feme soles (unmarried women) and could own property when they came of age were unlikely to possess it because families typically planned on using the daughter’s inheritance as her marriage portion.[vii]

In the hopes of protecting women from cruel husbands, debauched husbands, and their husband’s creditors, English courts developed precedents over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to counteract the potentially harmful effects of coverture. These precedents specified property rights for married women and addressed questions about their ability to legally consent during marriage. Baron and Feme dedicated entire chapters to these rights in an effort to help readers negotiate the complex obstacles of coverture, such as dowers, jointures, separate estates, and separate maintenances in case of abuse or divorce. Most importantly, the author included a chapter that specified what wives got out of coverture, “What Contracts of the Wife Shall Bind the Husband,” which rehearsed the arguments for and against the law of necessaries (the right a wife has to charge things to her husband’s account or in her husband’s name) in exhaustive detail. Regardless of the author’s thoughts on the law of necessaries, there were documented cases of women charging extravagant items to their husband’s accounts and getting away with it in England.[viii] My own work, which examines women’s property rights and political participation in eighteenth-century British novels, hopes to show how coverture went both ways. The legal tools necessary to mitigate, if not negotiate, patriarchal family dynamics were already in women’s hands.

The Law Library’s copy of Baron and Feme was a gift Gerard Banks Esq. gave to William Waller Hening, as the handwritten note on the title page documents. Hening, a prominent Virginia jurist, may have read Baron and Feme as research for his legal handbook, The New Virginia Justice (1795). The handbook includes a conveyancing appendix with a sample marriage settlement that created a separate estate for the wife, one of the recommended methods for alleviating the legal austerity of coverture.


[i] Lynne Greenberg, ed. Baron and Feme: A Treatise of Equity, Concerning Husbands and Wives, The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works (New York: Routledge, 2005), 3:xlviii.

[ii] Marylynn Salmon, Women and the Law of Property in Early America (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 82.

[iii] Baron and Feme, 8.

[iv] Baron and Feme, 8.

[v] William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1765), 1:433, Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.

[vi] Susan Staves, Married Women’s Separate Property in England, 1660–1833 (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1990), 119–126.

[vii] Amy Louise Erickson, Women and Property in Early Modern England (New York: Routledge, 1993), 83.

[viii] For a sampling of these cases, see Margot Finn, “Women, Consumption, and Coverture in England, c.1760–1860,” Historical Journal 39, no. 3 (September 1996): 703–722.

Written by

Kelly Fleming

Kelly is a Curatorial Assistant at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections. She is also a Lecturer in the English department at the University of Virginia, where she earned her PhD in 2019. Her research focuses on the relationship between eighteenth-century British literature, women's property rights, politics, and material culture.

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Law School Participates in ‘Everyday People’ Exhibit

Eric Williamson
Associate Director of Communications and Senior Writer

The University of Virginia School of Law is presenting an exhibit of 100 images featuring black Law School life as part of a cross-Grounds exhibit, “Everyday People.”

Curated by the Arthur J. Morris Law Library, the UVA Law exhibit will be viewable on the second floor of the Law Library throughout February, which is Black History Month.

The images include numerous candid and historical moments — spanning from UVA’s and UVA Law’s first black student, Gregory Swanson, to the students, alumni and faculty of the present.

“This is an important legacy for our institution to honor,” said Special Collections Librarian Randi Flaherty, who led the installation. “We are grateful to have a photo archive, which includes contributions from student groups like BLSA, that makes this exhibit possible.”  

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library and the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library will also host similar exhibits.

Reposted from the University of Virginia School of Law’s News and Media site.

Written by

Arthur J. Morris Law Library

The Arthur J. Morris Law Library is the home of research for students and faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law.

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Profiles in Service, Veterans Day 2018

As we observe Veterans Day today, we honor the military service of our alumni/ae with two profiles of UVA Law veterans: Alice R. Burke, a 1926 law graduate and U.S. Navy veteran who served as counsel in the Tokyo War Crimes Trials, and Farrell Dabney Minor, Jr., a member of the law class of 1911 who died from battle wounds one hundred years ago while serving in the U.S. Army during World War I.

Alice R. Burke

LLB, University of Virginia, 1926
Lieutenant Commander, USNR (W)

Alice Rebecca Burke was born on May 1, 1901, in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was a member of the first class of women at William & Mary and graduated with a BA in 1921. Burke’s senior yearbook noted her strong interest in the law, even as an undergraduate. Burke went on to earn a LLB from the University of Virginia in 1926 as the law school’s second female graduate.

Corks and Curls, 1926

After graduation, Burke served as a civil attorney in San Antonio, Texas before returning to Virginia to earn an MA from William & Mary. In 1936, she took a position as lecturer in Government and English for the Norfolk division of William & Mary (later Old Dominion University).

During World War II, Burke resigned her position at Norfolk and joined the U.S. Navy. She was commissioned Lieutenant Junior Grade in 1942, Lieutenant in 1944, and Lieutenant Commander in 1946—all in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Naval Reserve (commonly known as WAVES for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). During the war, Burke assumed command of the WAVES Barracks in Balboa Park, San Francisco, California.

Lieutenant Alice R. Burke, USNR (W), assumes command of WAVES Barracks, Balboa Park, San Francisco, CA.

After the war, Burke served as defense counsel during the Tokyo War Crimes Trial. (Today, incidentally, the UVA Law Library is home to one of the largest collections of papers from these trial proceedings.) Burke stayed on in Japan as a legal and government officer in civil affairs. She retired from the Navy in 1955 and continued her legal career in New York. Burke died on May 1, 1973 and is buried in Charlottesville’s Riverview Cemetery. Her tombstone reads Alice Rebecca Burke, Lieut. Commander, USNR (W).

Further Reading:
Alice Burke biographical sketch, Old Dominion University,  https://www.lib.odu.edu/exhibits/womenshistorymonth/2000/burke.htm

Farrell Dabney Minor, Jr.

LLB, University of Virginia, 1911
Lieutenant, U.S. Army

Farrell Dabney Minor, Jr. was born in Galveston, Texas on February 10, 1889. After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1911, Minor moved back to Beaumont, Texas to practice law with his father.

When the US entered World War I in 1917, Farrell quickly enlisted in the military and obtained a commission as a Second Lieutenant. He was assigned to the 42nd “Rainbow” Division of the Army, under the command of Douglas Macarthur (who was at that time a colonel), as part of the 167th Infantry regiment. He sailed for Europe in November 1917 and shortly thereafter led his platoon in the Croix Rouge Farm fight of the Second Battle of the Marne. Half of Minor’s company was killed in less than forty minutes in this extraordinarily bloody fight. Minor himself was wounded on July 26 while leading his men in a charge across an open wheat field at Croix Rouge Farm.

Farrell succumbed to his wounds on August 29, 1918. He is buried at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France. After the end of the war, his name was inscribed on the University of Virginia’s Memorial Tablet Dedicated to Those Who Perished in the World War. In the 1920’s, Minor’s parents honored his service and his law school alma mater with a special endowment to the UVA Law Library in the name of Lieutenant Farrell Dabney Minor, Jr.

Grave of Second Lieutenant Farrell Dabney Minor, Jr. at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery in Belleau, France. Photograph by Edwin L. Fountain, American Battle Monuments Commission, UVA Law 1990.

 

Further Reading:
Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Annual Session of the Texas Bar Association, Volume 38 (Texas Bar Association, 1919), 92.

Written by

Tom Butcher

Tom is an Assistant with the Law Library's Special Collections team. He is also a lecturer for the UVa History department, where he earned his PhD in 2018. His research focuses on the history of sex, gender, and sexuality in Europe, as well as questions of political violence and human rights.

Randi Flaherty

Randi Flaherty is the Special Collections Librarian at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library. She is an early American historian with a focus on foreign maritime commerce in the early American republic.

Kelly Fleming

Kelly is a Curatorial Assistant at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library Special Collections. She is also a Lecturer in the English department at the University of Virginia, where she earned her PhD in 2019. Her research focuses on the relationship between eighteenth-century British literature, women's property rights, politics, and material culture.

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Call For Papers: Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit – October 13, 2017

Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit
Conference at the University of Virginia

October 13, 2017

The Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit aims to highlight the growing number of significant and innovative efforts to conceive of and construct digital archives within Virginia. A joint effort between the University of Virginia Law Library, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Washington and Lee University Library, and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the Summit will serve as a forum for the impressive efforts of those within the Commonwealth contributing to or interested in the digitization and interpretation of archival materials. The Summit will be an open-ended conference assembling individuals and institutions across disciplines—including but not limited to archivists, scholars, librarians, museum specialists, and technologists—who are expanding and grappling with the role of archives and archives-based research in the digital age. It will be an opportunity to present past, future, and ongoing digital archives projects and to explore practical, theoretical, and methodological issues regarding the convergence of archival practice, scholarly research, and pedagogy.

We welcome proposals of individual papers and complete panels of three to four speakers (15 minutes per speaker), workshops (50 minutes), and participants in a digital archives lightning round (5 minutes per speaker).

We envision the summit engaging with the following topics:

  • How do digital surrogates change our interpretation, use, or understanding of physical materials?
  • New techniques of interfacing, indexing, and discovering content within collections.
  • Methods of expanding access, assessing public engagement, and promoting digital archives projects.
  • New models of description, interpretation, or analysis of digital archives.
  • The inclusion of critical archives theory in archival practice, such as encouraging a focus on collecting and highlighting materials from understudied subjects and persons, opening collections to new audiences and methods of interpretation, or discussions the privileged role archives play in historical memory making.
  • The value of digitization in terms of the preservation of the cultural record.
  • Discussions on the convergence of technologists, archivists, and scholars inside and outside the archives, particularly regarding collaborative methods of selecting, processing, interpreting, and teaching with collections and digital archives.
  • Institutional issues surrounding funding, prioritization, collaboration, or the digital humanities.
  • The technological underpinnings of digital archives creation including digitization methods, transcription, development of data models, standards-based metadata, hosting solutions, data management, the application of empirical data techniques, and data visualization.
  • Digital archives as pedagogical instruments in classroom instruction and public engagement.

Please submit proposals by June 30, 2017 via http://oieahc.wm.edu/conferences/supported/summit/cfp.html

Questions? Please contact Jim Ambuske (jpa4ad@virginia.edu). 

Written by

Jim Ambuske

Jim Ambuske is the Horatio and Florence Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities. He received his Ph.D. from UVA in 2016 and is a historian of the American Revolution and early Republic. At the UVA Law Library, Jim works in Special Collections to develop interpretive content for the library's major initiatives, curricula for future courses in the digital humanities, and research projects rooted in the library's archives and manuscript holdings. His primary responsibilities at the Law Library include oversight of the Scottish Court of Session Papers project and promoting scholarly access to the library's significant holdings in early American, Virginian, and transatlantic legal history.

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Looking for a Public History Internship in Summer 2017? Join the Special Collections Team at the Law Library.

The Special Collections team at the Arthur J. Morris Law Library is looking for two excellent summer interns to help us with exciting projects in digital history. We’ve partnered with UVA’s Institute for Public History to create two experiential learning opportunities for one undergraduate and one graduate student.

The first initiative is the “Digital 1828 Catalogue Collection Project.” It will help illuminate the history of the Law School and Thomas Jefferson’s vision for legal education in the early American republic. We aim to build a virtual library that will hold digitized copies of the over 700 legal texts originally listed in the university library’s 1828 catalogue. Our goal is inspire new research in legal history by making these rare volumes easily accessible to scholars, and create a new tool that will help other libraries digitally preserve their own rare book collections. We seek a graduate student to help us digitize the volumes, perform research on the texts, and work with us and our partners across grounds to develop the website. 

The second project is “Diary of a Dean: The Life of William Minor Lile.” The Law School’s first dean was born two years before the outbreak of the American Civil War and died two years after Adolf Hitler assumed power in Nazi Germany. In 1882, Lile began the first of what became an eleven volume journal. The entries document life in Charlottesville and Virginia as the post-war United States began to exert greater influence on the world stage. We seek an undergraduate student to help us digitize all eleven journals, assist in the creation of a new transcription of the volumes, and develop some interpretative content for the website. 

These internships are designed to give students practical public history experience in a team-based environment that includes the Digital Collections Librarian, Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities, Archivist, and the metadata specialists. We’ll work with you to accomplish your own professional goals as we together tell stories about the past. 

Please see the Institute for Public History’s website for complete details about the internships and the application form. Applications are due to Lisa Goff, director of the institute, by 5 p.m. on 3 February 2017.

If you have questions about either of the internships please contact Jim Ambuske or Loren Moulds

 

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Jim Ambuske

Jim Ambuske is the Horatio and Florence Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities. He received his Ph.D. from UVA in 2016 and is a historian of the American Revolution and early Republic. At the UVA Law Library, Jim works in Special Collections to develop interpretive content for the library's major initiatives, curricula for future courses in the digital humanities, and research projects rooted in the library's archives and manuscript holdings. His primary responsibilities at the Law Library include oversight of the Scottish Court of Session Papers project and promoting scholarly access to the library's significant holdings in early American, Virginian, and transatlantic legal history.

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