The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

Main menu:

January 20, 2006

Press Contact:
Michael Widener, Head of Special Collections, Tarlton Law Library, 512-471-7263 or

Tarlton Law Library Documents an Early "Transatlantic" Law Library in New Publication

AUSTIN, Texas—One of the great early law libraries of the American South is documented in the latest volume of the Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series, published by the Jamail Center for Legal Research at The University of Texas at Austin.

"The 1877 Sale Catalogue of Gustavus Schmidt's Library" records the private library of an influential New Orleans lawyer and scholar. As Michael Hoeflich (University of Kansas) writes in his introduction, Gustavus Schmidt (1795-1877) was "a protege of Chief Justice John Marshall, the founder of the first law journal in Louisiana, one of the most successful advocates in Louisiana legal history, and a founder of what has become the Tulane Law School." Hoeflich’s co-author, Louis V. de la Vergne, is the great-great-grandson of Gustavus Schmidt and was the prime mover behind the project to publish his ancestor's library catalogue.

The publication includes a facsimile of the printed 1877 catalogue of the library from the St. Louis booksellers Soule, Thomas & Wentworth, which lists 1,015 titles and their prices. Hoeflich, who has studied many early American law libraries, calls Schmidt's library "one of the most remarkable libraries of his age." It included books in 13 different languages, and was rich not only in law books, but also in natural history, literature, and popular science.

The catalogue used for the facsimile is the one now in the Gustavus Schmidt Succession Records at the New Orleans City Archives. An executor of Schmidt's estate added a wealth of additional data in handwritten annotations, including missing books, prices realized by the estate, and much more. The catalogue and its annotations provide a rich set of data for book historians.

Also included is a study by Kjell A. Modeer entitled "Gustavus Schmidt's Library: The Swedish Connection." Modeer, a legal historian from Sweden's Lund University, describes regular exchanges of books between Gustavus Schmidt and his brother, Swedish Supreme Court justice Carl Christian Schmidt. "Their transatlantic book traffic is documented in an extensive file of correspondence at Tulane University," said Professor Roy Mersky, director of the Jamail Center. "However, it has remained largely inaccessible because it is in Swedish. Professor Modéer has made an important contribution by bringing this correspondence to light."

This publication (and all other Jamail Center publications) can be ordered online at Or, contact Abigail Schultz, Publications Coordinator (Jamail Center for Legal Research, University of Texas School of Law, 727 East Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX 78705-3224; phone 512/471-7726; fax 512/471-0243, e-mail


Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series, No. 6:
OF GUSTAVUS SCHMIDT'S LIBRARY. Introduction by Michael H. Hoeflich
& Louis V. de la Vergne, essay by Kjell A. Modéer. With a facsimile
reproduction of the original 1877 catalogue, courtesy of the New
Orleans Public Library. Austin, Tex.: Jamail Center for Legal Research,
2005. ISBN: 0-935630-61-9. vi, 108 pages. Price: $40.00

Related Link:
Tarlton Law Library: