With all of the fanfare surrounding the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, it seemed like a great opportunity to explore the presence and impact of that iconic document in our collection. Since our collection focuses on the books used by typical working lawyers, it was interesting and perhaps a bit surprising to see how present a grand document like Magna Carta was in Rare Book Room.
Soon after its birth in 1215, Magna Carta infiltrated legal literature, namely the great early legal treatise On the Laws and Customs of England (often referred to simply as Bracton, in reference to its compiler). Magna Carta commands the first slot in English statutory compilations. It was studied and venerated by great legal minds like Edward Coke and William Blackstone. It influenced colonial leaders charged with drafting the federal and state constitutions. Today, it remains a powerful source and symbol behind rallying cries for fundamental rights and liberties.
We hope you enjoy taking a look at Magna Carta’s presence in our collection and perhaps learning a bit more about this fascinating document. The exhibit was curated by Laurel Davis, Curator of Rare Books/Legal Reference Librarian. It will remain on view until the beginning of the fall semester. Please come in and take a look!
Please take a look at our exhibit catalog!