Law Library Exhibition Explores the History of Law Reporting

Centuries-old case reports - documents that are a fundamental source for the study and practice of law in the Anglo-American common law system - are on view in “Landmarks in Law Re­porting,” a new exhibition at the Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Rare Book Collection at the Law School, 127 Wall St.

The exhibition, on view through October, illustrates the development of law reporting from the Middle Ages to modern times. It begins with a manuscript collection of cases from the reign of Edward III, copied in about 1450. Also on display are first editions of the reports of Edmund Plowden (1571, considered the first modern-style reports) and Sir Edward Coke (1600, regarded as perhaps the most influential reports). Other “firsts” on display include the first American case reports (Ephraim Kirby’s 1789 reports of Connecticut cases) and the first U.S. Supreme Court reports (Dallas’ Reports, 1798).

Recurring themes in the exhibition include the gradual transformation from manuscript to print, the growth of legal publishing, the connections between law reporting and legal education, and the growing demands by lawyers for timely, well-organized reports.

The exhibition was curated by Mike Widener, rare book librarian.

The Rare Books Exhibition Gallery is located in the lower level of the Lillian Goldman Law Library (Level L2), directly in front of the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room. It is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily except Sundays in the summer. For those unable to visit the exhibit in person, it will appear in installments on the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog, at

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