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April 6, 2007

Contact: Mark Lambert, Head of Special Collections, Tarlton Law Library, (512) 232-3802,

New Tarlton Publication Examines Medieval Law Libraries

AUSTIN, Texas—The latest publication in the Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series presents the text of the Tarlton Law Library’s Second Annual Rare Book Lecture, “Law Libraries and the Formation of the Legal Profession in the Late Middle Ages,” delivered by Dr. Stanley Chodorow on February 15, 2006. The publication is available for $25.

In his talk, Dr. Chodorow traces the evolution of law libraries in Europe from early, haphazard collections in monasteries and cathedrals to an organized and accessible body of knowledge in universities in the 15th century.

Chodorow uses the example of Henry Chichele, Archbishop of Cantebury, who made a gift of his library to All Souls College, Oxford, in the early 1440s. The library consisted of 359 books – 189 of them on law, the rest on theology, astronomy, and medicine. The gift is one of the first indications of the existence of practitioner and student law libraries, and confirms the professionalization of the study of the law.

Chodorow is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California, San Diego. He was the founding chief executive officer of the California Virtual University (CVU), a consortium of accredited colleges and universities in California that offer distance learning programs. Prior to his appointment to lead the CVU, Chodorow was provost of the University of Pennsylvania from 1994 to 1997. From 1968 to 1994, he was a professor and administrator at University of California, San Diego.

Professor Roy M. Mersky, Harry M. Reasoner Regents Chair in Law and Director of Research at the Tarlton Law Library, introduced Chodorow at the lecture, and noted that, “the evolution of libraries informs our understandings of the practice and scholarship of law and, in fact, often presages changes in the profession. Dr. Chodorow’s perspective on the development of the profession and the resources that supported it provide valuable insight into an important aspect of legal history.”

The Tarlton Law Library has plans to publish the inaugural Rare Book Lecture, “Subscription Publishing and Law Books in Antebellum America,” presented in 2004 by Professor Michael Hoeflich of the University of Kansas School of Law, as well as this year’s lecture, “The Literature of Witchcraft Trials,” delivered on February 15, 2007, by Professor Scott Pagel of the Jacob Burns Law Library, George Washington University.

Chodorow’s lecture (and all other Tarlton publications) can be ordered online through the Tarlton Law Library or by contacting Abigail Schultz, Publications Coordinator, Jamail Center for Legal Research, at The University of Texas School of Law, 727 East Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX, 78705-3224; phone: (512) 232-3815; fax: (512) 471-0243, e-mail: