Skip to main content

History of the Casebook - Summer 2001

daniel r. coquillette rare book room - boston college law library

Instantly familiar to today’s law student, the casebook has evolved over the centuries and has served a variety of functions in the law school classroom.

This exhibit tells the story of the casebook. It begins with a look at the predecessors to the casebook, the Year Books and the Reports. Over time, legal scholars distilled their readings of the cases from the Year Books and Reports into legal treatises: scholarly discourses on discrete areas of the law that formed the basis of early American legal education methods. This trend later was supplanted by a full-scale return to close readings of cases, accompanied by the casebook that remains a mainstay of legal education today. The exhibit closes with a look at the role of the casebook at the Boston College Law School.

Composed primarily of old and rare materials from the library’s permanent collection, this exhibit is one of several that explore different aspects of the history of American legal education. It was created by Karen Beck, Curator of Rare Books/Legal Reference Librarian and Susan Sullivan, Public Services Librarian. The exhibit will remain on view from June through August 2001.