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Rare Works on View in Library

preyer bequest enhances collection

rare works

Kathryn “Kitty” Preyer recently bequeathed her collection of more than 100 early American and English law books to the Boston College Law School. A selection of those books is now on exhibit in the law library’s Daniel R. Coquillette Rare Book Room.

BC Law Dean John H. Garvey praised Preyer’s generosity and commitment to scholarship, noting that this was a significant gift that would enhance the Law School’s growing collection of books owned by working lawyers. “We are both pleased and humbled by Kitty’s bequest,” said Garvey. “She was a brilliant teacher and scholar, and her gift to the Law School will help inspire new generations of students.”

Filippa Marullo Anzalone, associate dean for library and computing services, called Kitty “an active friend” of the Law School’s rare books program. “Having her books as part of the collection will keep Kitty in our hearts in a wonderful and enriching way for generations to come,” Anzalone said.

Preyer originally began buying law books to use in her scholarship and over time amassed a strong collection, becoming an expert in the history and publication of early American law books. A renowned American legal and constitutional historian, Preyer passed away on Patriot’s Day in 2005.

Among the books in the bequest are early justice-ofthe- peace manuals, law dictionaries, English and Italian criminal law works, several editions of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, early American constitutional law materials, and multiple editions of her favorite: Giles Jacob’s Every Man His Own Lawyer.

“It was a thrill that Kitty decided to leave her superb collection to the Law School,” said Monan Professor of Law Daniel Coquillette. “These are irreplaceable books that simply cannot be found on the open market.… It is an honor and a privilege to have her name associated with the school.”

Preyer received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and was a professor of history at Wellesley College. She was the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Harvard University, and the Harvard Law School. In 1984, she won the Surrency Prize from the American Society for Legal History.

“Kitty’s books have found a good home here,” said Karen Beck, the Law Library’s curator of rare books. “Her collection dovetails perfectly with our existing collection of works likely to have been owned and used by working lawyers from the sixteen through nineteenth centuries. Kitty’s gift will strengthen our growing collection immensely, since nearly every book in her bequest will be a first copy for us.”

Selections from Preyer’s collection are on exhibit through early December. The room is generally open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit

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