Skip to main content

The Golden Age of Massachusetts Legal Publishing

Massachusetts was an extremely important legal publishing center in the 19th century, when American law book publishing was taking off.  Prior to and right after the American Revolution, virtually the only law books being published in the colonies were statutory compilations and reprints of English and continental legal texts.  However, by the beginning of the 1800s, a “home-grown” canon of American legal literature began to emerge.  The current exhibit traces this progression and stops before the rise of the West publishing empire in the late 1800s.  

Some featured works include the first post-Revolution American printing of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, a beautiful first American edition of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Laws, many lovely editions of Joseph Story’s works, and a first edition of Simon Greenleaf’s Treatise on the Law of Evidence, personally inscribed by Greenleaf to Joseph Story.  

You are invited to view the exhibit anytime the room is open: generally weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibit will remain on view into Spring 2012. For more information please see the exhibit brochure

For remote access to the exhibit, please see our virtual tour below. 

This page links to PDF files. Use this link to download Adobe Reader if needed.