A Diary of a Lonely Librarian, Part 3

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

Tuesday, April 21: You know what is frightening? Lord Mansfield. Or at least our life-sized portrait of Lord Mansfield (shown above)—especially when you come around a corner in the dark and empty library and he is just looming there over you. It is a huge portrait and it is hung up on the wall a bit so that Lord Mansfield is a good two feet taller than you. When the library is full I usually just pass right by the portrait and I might think, “That’s a big portrait,” but that’s about it. Today, with no one else here, and the library still dark since I hadn’t yet turned on the lights, it made me stop in my tracks. Fortunately, like my hero Beaker, I’m not one to get flustered easily. I don’t know Lord Mansfield, but I do know that he looks mean in our picture. Or at least he looks stern. And I actually think “stern” is the same thing as “mean,” except that some people think that being “stern” is a leadership quality. Anyways, if I was ever getting my portrait done, first of all, I would choose a different wig. But also, I would hope that my family and friends would say, “Hey. . . Ben. . . maybe a different facial expression? It’s just that you look kind of mean is all.” And I would be thankful that they said that because I’m not one who, two centuries from now, wants to be up on a wall scaring people in an empty library. Though maybe that’s a thing, because it turns out we have quite a few pieces of art that look pretty spooky when the lights are off and the building is empty.

 

Compact shelves in the Law Library basement.

Tuesday, April 21, later that same day. . .: You know what is even more frightening? The Basement. Most of our students think that the law library has three floors: the first floor with the circulation desk and main reading room; the second floor with its reference area, technical services department, stacks and study tables; and the third floor, with a few more books, study carrels and special collections department. We actually have four. Few people have reason to visit our basement, even though it is an open floor. It’s small, there are no study tables and it has only a small collection of books, though it includes our famous Oceans Collection. It’s the only place in our library where we have compact shelving—movable shelves that save space by opening and closing with large cranks that allow you to move an entire range of shelves by yourself. Compact shelving is pretty cool because one person can actually move hundreds of pounds of books at once as you open up one range or another to find the book you need. It also has a sinister side. When we were having it installed, I took one look at it, and asked the group “Wait a minute, what is to prevent an evil villain from cranking the shelves closed while you’re all the way at the other end trying to get a book, trapping you in the shelves at best or crushing you to death at worst?” No one had a good answer. The Basement is scary on a regular day when there are plenty of people around to rescue you. Today the library was empty, and I had to retrieve a book for a patron about a fishing community in Nova Scotia, which, of course, was in our Oceans Collection in The Basement. 

Shows the author dressed as Daphne, from Scooby-Doo.
Librarians Tim Breeden, Ben Doherty, and Cathy Palombi dressed for Halloween as Scooby-Doo characters Shaggy, Daphne, and Fred, respectively.

I took the elevator down, knowing that I would absolutely faint if the doors opened and there was anyone standing there. I tried to remember my training from years ago as part of the Scooby Gang (one of the Library staff’s yearly Halloween costume themes). “Be brave like Daphne. Daphne wouldn’t be scared. Daphne is not afraid.” Thankfully, when the doors opened, I was greeted only by an empty hallway. I scooted back to the Oceans Collection, cranked open the shelves, dashed down to our three copies of OCEANS 35.2 CAN .A8812, grabbed Copy 1, and hightailed it back to the elevator and up to the safety of my office on the second floor. Whew! Time for some Scooby Snacks, or whatever it was that Scoob and Shaggy used to smooth themselves out after high anxiety. I can’t remember.

Wednesday, April 22: I emailed the library director to ask if we could replace the portrait of Lord Mansfield with a portrait of me, just so it’s less scary. I haven’t heard back. I’m picking out my outfit.

Top photo: Sir William Murray, Lord Mansfield, 1932, by Paolo Troubetzkoy.

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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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A Diary of a Lonely Librarian, Part 2

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

Thursday, April 9: There is a path behind the law school. It goes over a stream. When the building is full of people and energy and excitement, it is a nice place to go to pause and take some breaths before heading back to the project on which you’ve been working. Now that the building is empty and locked down, it is nice place to go after a rain storm to watch the water splashing off mossy rocks and think, “Oh! It is going to be ok.” Even if just for a minute.

Friday, April 10: I cried today.

Monday, April 13: “Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim!” . . . “Beeeeeeeeeeen!” We’ve been greeting each other this way for years. There is an inflection on the end now, though: kind of a sigh, or a hollow laugh—an understanding that we don’t know exactly where we are right now. There are some people in the building, but they are always at a distance. Tim has been a stalwart part of our onsite library skeleton crew these past weeks. On the days that I’m there, it has always been good to see him, even if briefly and from far away. It gives me some reassurance when all of the other offices and workspaces are dark. A couple of weeks ago I saw one of the electricians here that we all know. I was on the second floor and heard his immediately recognizable voice talking on his phone, along with the jangle of his large key ring. I ran to our balcony and hailed him as he walked through our main reading room below. He smiled. That felt good. He said he was ok and staying safe and was also part of a skeleton crew taking care of emergencies and keeping the buildings running while everyone is gone. We agreed that we had never seen anything like this before. Last week, I also happened to see one of the people on the team doing the crucial public health work of keeping the building clean. We’ve worked together at the law school for a long time—he’s been here one year longer than I have—but we never see each other because we work different shifts. He said he was also staying safe. We agreed that these were scary times. He said he felt the most bad for the students because they were missing out on the full law school experience.

Tuesday, April 14: Staring at the long expanse of empty carpet, I thought, “I wonder if I can still do a cartwheel?” We have an extremely long runway of carpet on our second floor. For library folks in the know, it stretches all the way: from our American Law room (the KFs!), past our state codes (KA-KW!), in between our CFR (KF!), U.S. Codes (KF again!) and secondary reference materials (A-Z!), past our coffee station, through microfilm and government documents (SuDocs A-Y 4!), and ending at the 700-pound sculpture in between the Law Review and Virginia Journal of International Law offices. When I was new at the law library, I once offered to help lift that sculpture onto a cart so that it could be moved to a different location. The sculptor said, “Yeah. . . how about you stand back and let these guys do their work?” I was now gazing down to that sculpture, 300 feet away, and trying to remember the last time I had done a cartwheel. It may have been 20 years ago. I realized the only thing that had ever stopped me from doing a cartwheel here before was that this expanse was usually populated by students at the many study tables and standing desks. There was no one here to see me now. What could go wrong? I limbered up by setting my keys and phone down on one of the shelves in American Constitutional Law. And then . . .Yes! Got it on the First Try! Well, not really. First try was a little crooked, and my feet definitely came down too early. I was also dizzy, which I did not remember happening before. So, I tried again, and . . . it felt right! Like I remembered a cartwheel feeling. Though I now had these interesting spots floating across my eyes. I decided that was good for the day. I asked the library director if we could spring-load the floor so that my future routines could be more explosive. She said no.

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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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A Diary of a Lonely Librarian, Part 1

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

Monday, March 16: We have 700 seats in our library. They are all empty. People tend to think of librarians as introverts. Maybe. But we miss you all. We joined this profession because we love people. We love seeing you, talking with you, helping you find what you need. And we love having hundreds of people sharing this space with us—studying, collaborating, getting coffee, checking out books, stopping by our service desks, eating grilled cheese. It’s lonely here now. We’ll see you again soon, but, for now, know that your presence is missed.

Tuesday, March 23: Repotted the cactus today. . . it looks good. . . sigh. I brought my cactus home from work yesterday. We are mostly all telecommuting, with just a small skeleton staff here each day for any onsite needs to support classes or research. Bringing home my cactus felt very heavy to me. My son gave it to me a couple years ago for my birthday. I brought it in to work because we have a great set of windows in our technical services department that face the south and get sun all day. There were already a bunch of beautiful plants there that my colleagues have been tending to for many years. I thought my cactus would welcome the sun and the company of its more seasoned plant friends and the wonderful folks who work in technical services. It has. It has really grown in the last two years. As we shifted to telecommuting, I thought I should bring the cactus home. That felt really sad because I knew I was also temporarily saying goodbye to the people I have worked with for so many years. I’ve repotted the cactus and bring it outside each day to visit with the sun. When it’s not sunny, it sits next to my laptop computer on my dining room table and reminds me of the people at work.

Monday, March 30: Discovered that Clorox wipes activate the hot water function on our water cooler. I am part of the onsite skeleton crew today. It’s the first time I’ve been back in the library in about a week. It’s good to be here today, and also strange to walk into such an empty building on a Monday morning. I went to make my morning tea by getting hot water from our water cooler in the break room. The water cooler has a safety mechanism by which you can only get hot water if you press two buttons on opposite sides of the touch screen. I thought I should wipe down the water cooler with a Clorox wipe and discovered that somehow the moisture in the wipes activates both buttons so that the water cooler just starts dumping out hot water. Being scientifically minded, I reacted like Beaker from the Muppets. After calming down, I unplugged the water cooler, dried off the buttons and cleaned up the mess. Actually now thankful that the library was empty so that nobody saw.

Tuesday, March 31: Did it again. I’m back for one more day as part of the onsite crew. As I went to get my morning tea again, I thought surely yesterday’s experience with the hot water was a fluke. Why not just try wiping down the water cooler in the same way again? No fluke. More hot water dumped on the floor. Have now confirmed that Clorox wipes activate the hot water function. Also, the floor around the water cooler is really really clean now. Next time, I’ll unplug the water cooler before wiping it down.

Monday, April 6: Did a complete loop, walking, of the second floor, in 3:57. The second floor of our library is pretty big. It’s the size of a couple football fields put together. I’m back as part of the onsite skeleton crew today, and thought I should take the opportunity of an empty library to see how long it took me to walk a circuit (walking, not running, because it is a library!). Started at our massive globe that sits on the second floor, out past MyLab and the government documents, by the Law Review and VJIL offices, back by MyLab, took a right and took the overpass over the main reading room to the stacks/study desks on the opposite side, down to the Gambini study room and Legal Data Lab, past the Collaborative Classroom, skirted the carrels surround the KF stacks, and then back to the reference area and the globe. 3 minutes, 57 seconds. Time to sit down! I asked the library director if I could spray paint that course on the carpet so that other people could follow it when everyone returns. She said no.

Tuesday, April 7: Turned on the lights! I’m part of the skeleton crew for today and just happened to be the first one to arrive. This never happens because, under normal circumstances, several of my colleagues get here very early and get everything set up and ready for the day. Being first means you get to turn on all the lights in the library. I assumed that this meant flipping a huge switch on the wall like the one that Dr. Frankenstein used to reanimate the “monster.” No. It’s just a small button. Sigh.

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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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Reading About Writing

Below is some of the best reading about writing to inspire your emails and typed chats with classmates and professors while social distancing. These guides will also help with your seminar papers, research project memos, and cover letters. You can access many of these online from wherever you are. The Law Library is here to help you access the others:

Tom Goldstein & Jethro K. Lieberman, The Lawyer’s Guide to Writing Well (3d ed. 2016) – A law professor and journalism professor teamed up to help us over stumbling blocks that level law students, professors, librarians, and lawyers alike, such as overly long sentences. And procrastination. They devote an entire chapter to email. Access the ebook through this Virgo record.

Bryan A. Garner (with Jeff Newman, Tiger Jackson), The Redbook: A Manual on Legal Style (4th ed. 2018) – Should you capitalize names of the seasons? When is a semicolon appropriate? This well-organized resource puts answers at your fingertips to questions you’ve likely had. Its guidelines are a formula for professional and polished writing. It isn’t available online but the Law Library is – peruse its table of contents here and see this page for ways to contact us.  

Eugene Volokh, Academic Legal Writing: Law Review Articles, Student Notes, Seminar Papers, and Getting on Law Review (5th ed. 2016) – Consult this one at each step along the way from figuring out what to write about to editing. Contact us for help accessing it.

William Strunk, Jr. & E.B. White, The Elements of Style – Strunk and his student White (writer of Charlotte’s Web and for The New Yorker) cover some of the same kinds of things as The Redbook, like when to use “that” or “which.” They’re addressing writers generally, but White’s advice to write with nouns and verbs, avoid wordiness, and revise is essential straight talk for legal writers. HathiTrust is offering UVA students temporary access to the third edition in their Emergency Temporary Access Service – here’s how:

  • Log in: Go to HathiTrust’s site and click the yellow “log in” button to select University of Virginia as your institution. You’ll be prompted to sign in with your Netbadge.
  • Find the book: Type “william strunk white elements of style” in the search box and select to search the catalog (not full text). Choose the first result and click into one of its temporary access options.
  • Check out the book: Click the check out button to view the book for an hour. Your check out will renew automatically if no one else has requested the book.

George Orwell, Politics and the English Language, The New Republic, June 17, 1946, at 872 & June 24, 1946 at 903 – In a handful of pages Orwell explains why clear writing leads to clear thinking plus how to do it, and amuses with examples of pretentious and meaningless words. Find this article and many more in UVA’s Virgo card catalog (link to part 1 of it here, and part 2 of it by navigating to the June 24 New Republic issue from this Virgo record).  

For sheer pleasure of reading great writing about writing, check out horror and fantasy novelist Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity (all three temporarily available in HathiTrust), and poet Mary Oliver’s Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. To peek at what other people have written to each other during trying times, see if your local public library system has ebooks of collections like My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Vol. 1, 1915-1933 (Sarah Greenough ed.), which includes O’Keeffe’s description of her stint in Charlottesville.

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Kristin Glover

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

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The Virtual Law Library: Still Here to Help

The law library space may be closed due to COVID-19, but our online services, digital resources, and remote reference desk are very much open for business. UVA law librarians want you to know that we’re still here to help!

Our COVID-19 Guide to Library Services explains how to access library resources—from online study aids to streaming films. For research assistance, contact our reference librarians at refdesk@law.virginia.edu. If you need more in-depth assistance (for example, if you want to talk through your research plan for a seminar paper) schedule a research consultation, and we’ll set up a meeting over the phone or via Zoom. And if you just want to relax, try an entertainment resource like Kanopy or an ebook.

Students: we miss you, and we’re sorry that you can’t come see us in person. We know that digital resources can’t replace the library’s physical space, where you come to collaborate, interact with librarians, or simply study beside a friend. But we hope that our “virtual library” will provide the next best thing, by making you feel welcome, providing access to materials you need, and making it easy for you to get research assistance from law librarians.

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Kate Boudouris

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

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Liberation Day in Charlottesville

On March 3, 1865, an enslaved woman named Jane set off from her home—the Sunnyside property on which the University of Virginia law and business schools now sit—and watched the Union Army march into Charlottesville. Following this arrival of the Union troops, Jane liberated herself from slavery. [1]

At Sunnyside, Jane labored as a cook. In 1865, she was in her mid-30s or early-40s and had been enslaved by the Duke family since 1859. That year, Jane had been put up for sale on the green by Court Square, the city’s site for slave auctions. Facing imminent sale to traders, Jane advocated for herself there on the green and convinced R.T.W. Duke Sr. to purchase her bondage for $1000.[2]

Jane was a skilled cook. In 1863, the Duke family moved to Sunnyside at a moment of severe wartime food scarcities. Jane “deftly” concocted stews, hash, and soups that winter from the weekly ration of beefshead.

On March 3, 1865, as the Union army under General George Armstrong Custer marched into Charlottesville, Jane ran towards the music of the Union band when it drifted across to Sunnyside.[3] She was joined by two other enslaved people from Sunnyside, including ten-year-old Caesar, as well as eleven-year-old R.T.W. Duke Jr. The group made their way up and over UVA’s modern-day intramural and softball fields. Onward towards the “martial music,” they eventually perched themselves on a hill behind the property of Andrew Brown, likely the current site of the John Paul Jones Arena or the hill above Lambeth Field.[4]

Map of Charlottesville
Map of Albemarle County, 1875, Library of Congress. Showing location of Sunnyside, the Brown property, the University of Virginia, and the route of the Union Army into Charlottesville. Digital copy available: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3883a.la001200

From her post, Jane saw the long line of Union cavalry—column after column—march into town from Ivy Road and up toward Carr’s Hill. The group watched in silence. R.T.W. Duke Jr. recalled feeling “horror & rage” at the “great blue snake.”[5] He imagined the rest of his observation party, all enslaved, watched in similar awe. For them, though, the feelings were likely quite different, even if complicated. No direct account of their reaction remains.

Shortly thereafter, Jane liberated herself from slavery and the Duke family. She was the first of the enslaved community to leave Sunnyside. Jane had departed the Dukes by the time R.T.W. Duke Sr., a Colonel in the Confederate Army, returned home after Appomattox. She may have left Charlottesville more immediately as part of the large group of free African Americans that followed the Union army out of town on March 6, 1865. In that train, according to one Union cavalry soldier, Jane would have joined other free African Americans “old and young, male and female, trudging through mud and water, animated with the thought of freedom.”[6]

As a free woman, Jane turned her cooking skills into a livelihood. In the postwar period, the Duke family heard news that Jane was living in New Jersey and working as a cook at an impressive salary.[7]

Our location on North Grounds, in the hills of the former Sunnyside property, was the setting for Jane’s bondage, as well as her liberation. Both required fortitude. Today, Charlottesville observes Liberation and Freedom Day on the 155th anniversary of the Union Army’s arrival in the city and the beginning of the liberation of the Charlottesville’s enslaved community. We honor Jane on this day.

 

Notes:

This post builds on Amalia Garcia-Pretelt’s summer 2019 research into Sunnyside and the enslaved community there.

[1] The University of Virginia purchased the Sunnyside property from the Duke family 1963. The Sunnyside house still stands and is owned by UVA. For information on Jane, this post draws on the Recollections journal of R.T.W. Duke Jr., a boy in the Duke family that enslaved Jane at Sunnyside. Duke penned his Recollections beginning in 1899 (cited hereafter as Recollections, Volume: page). For Jane running to see the Union Army, see Recollections, 1:214. Elizabeth Varon has recently written on Duke Jr.’s ideas of slavery and the “lost cause” narrative. Elizabeth Varon, “UVA and the History of Race: The Lost Cause Through Judge Duke’s Eyes,” UVA Today, September 4, 2019. https://news.virginia.edu/content/uva-and-history-race-lost-cause-through-judge-dukes-eyes

[2] Jane was likely the thirty-one-year-old mulatto woman associated with R.T.W. Duke Sr. in the 1860 federal Slave Schedule. For the Court Square episode, see Recollections, 1:20. R.T.W. Duke Jr. provided his remembrances of the enslaved community in the Duke household in Recollections, 1:17-27.

[3] R.T.W. Duke Jr. recalled this date as March 9, 1865 in his journal, but the correct date is March 3, 1865. Recollections, 1:214. For an account of the Union army’s arrival in Charlottesville, see Brendan Wolfe, “The Union Army Occupation of Charlottesville (1865),” Encyclopedia Virginia, October 28, 2019, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Union_Occupation_of_Charlottesville_1865#start_entry.

[4] Recollections, 1:214. Andrew Brown owned the property adjacent to Sunnyside, and his “Rugby Hall” home still exists at 908 Cottage Lane, just off modern-day Rugby Road. Historic Charlottesville Tour Book (Charlottesville, VA: Albemarle County Historical Society, Inc., 2002), 81, https://www.jmrl.org/ebooks/Historic%20Charlottesville%20Tour%20Bo.PDF.

[5] Recollections, 1:141.

[6] Frederic Denison, Sabres and Spurs: The First Regiment Rhode Island Cavalry in the Civil War, 1861–1865 (Central Falls, Rhode Island: The First Rhode Island Cavalry Veteran Association, 1876), 441–444, available at Encyclopedia Virginia: https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/_quot_Sheridan_apos_s_Raid_quot_an_excerpt_from_Sabres_and_Spurs_by_Frederic_Denison_1876. Recollections, 1:20.

[7] Recollections, 1:20.

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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.

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Your End-of-Semester Survival Guide

If you’re studying for exams or finishing up a seminar paper, the Law Library staff is rooting for you! Here are some resources to help you get through the end-of-semester crunch.

Study Guides

The Law Library has a room full of books to help you review for finals. Browse them online and in person in the Reserve Room next to the Circulation Desk to find Examples & Explanations with short hypos and answers, Nutshells with straightforward narrative overviews, more detailed Hornbooks, and Sum and Substance audio CDs. Check them out from the Circulation Desk before you leave with them (three-hour checkout period). Access detailed BARBRI class outlines from the comfort of your couch or other favorite study spot through Lexis Advance.

Study Breaks

Even though the Library will be open longer starting December 2 (6am-2am weekdays, 8am-2am weekends), we encourage you to take regular study breaks and get a good night’s sleep. To help you take some deep breaths and manage exam stress, check out the audio guided meditations in the Reserve Room’s low shelves and the meditation mats and cushions in the second floor Collaborative Classroom. The UVA Mindfulness Center’s website has free study-break length guided meditations – try the 5-minute mindful breathing one between class outlines, the 10-minute kindness one when the “how could I have missed that practice exam answer!” thoughts come, and the 16-minute body scan if you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night. For more peace and quiet, CALI earplugs are available at the Circulation Desk. Head to MyLab for coloring books and puzzles and keep an eye out for surprise toys throughout the Library.     

Grilled Cheese Night

If comfort food is more your style than meditation, stop into the Law Library on Wednesday evening, December 11, for grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by librarians Ben Doherty, Micheal Klepper, Rebecca Hawes Owen, and Tim Breeden. Grilled Cheese Night is guaranteed to take your mind off of exams for at least a few minutes!

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Kristin Glover

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

Kate Boudouris

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

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Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive Wins Legal History Award

The American Society for Legal History has awarded the 2019 Mary L. Dudziak Digital Legal History Prize to the UVA Law Library’s Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive (SCOS). SCOS is a digital archive and research platform produced by the University of Virginia Law Library that makes accessible roughly 10,000 printed documents produced by Scotland’s supreme civil court in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The SCOS documents, formally known as Session Papers, tell a new and understudied story of life, law, and trade in the British Atlantic world. Cases before the Court regularly involved underrepresented groups, despite their apparent absence from available case indices, law reports, and, most notably, scholarship. As a result, the papers contain rich narratives of women, enslaved persons, and laborers who lived in the British Atlantic world during the era of the American Revolution. These are documents about people, often in their own words, circulating in these spaces as they protected their physical and intellectual property, conducted business, engaged in marriage or divorce, and established personal and economic connections that transcended political borders. By digitizing these materials, providing fully searchable page text, and describing them with rich metadata, SCOS presents new avenues for scholarly inquiry across many fields, particularly legal history.

Team members Loren Moulds, Randi Flaherty, and Jim Ambuske (clockwise from front) examine volumes of Session Papers.

In 2019, the project team based within Law Special Collections re-launched the SCOS website with enhanced tools for exploring the collection, including curated themes that align with current interests in the field of legal history and a full-text search function that displays snippets of relevant documents. This launch followed a complete redesign of the project database led by Loren Moulds and Jim Ambuske.  The Law Library debuted this intellectual work and technological overhaul in July 2019 at a conference held by the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. Continued digitization, rich description, and new features are planned through 2020.

For scholars and students of legal history, these seemingly unlikely sources provide a new Atlantic perspective on America’s colonial and early national periods. The project responds to emergent trends in academic scholarship centered on Atlantic and global history, women’s history, slavery and the law, and the history of capitalism. Providing scholars with ready access to these court papers has revealed a fascinating world of women, men, and children and their relationship to the law.

The award was presented at the ASLH’s annual conference in November 2019.

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Loren Moulds

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Registration Opens for Third Annual Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit

Registration is now open for the third annual Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit, which will take place at the Library of Virginia on December 6, 2019. Registration is free.

The Summit is an interdisciplinary conference focused on the creation, management, and use of digital archives throughout Virginia. Building on the success of previous Summits in 2017 and 2018, this year’s gathering will focus on digital projects that address the legacies of slavery and freedom in Virginia. We welcome individuals from various fields—archivists, scholars, librarians, museum specialists, and technologists—to attend and join the conversation.

The 2019 Summit is a joint effort between the University of Virginia Law Library, the Library of Virginia, George Mason University, and the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

You can register for the Summit here.

Panels this year include:

  • Virginia Untold: African American Narratives at the Library of Virginia
  •  Show & Tell: New & Upcoming Digital Projects from Around Virginia
  • The Stories We Tell: Complicating Institutional Narratives Through Archival Expansion
  • Community-Engaged Learning through Oral Histories and Community Archives
  • Positioning Digital Archives as Scholarly Endeavors
  • A lightning round with the opportunity for audience members to present
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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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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).

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Written by

Kate Boudouris

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

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