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November 5, 2007

Tarlton Law Library Publishes Inaugural Rare Books Lecture

On February 24th, 2004 Dr. Michael H. Hoeflich delivered the first Tarlton Law Library Rare Books Lecture, titled “Subscription Publishing and the Sale of Law Books in Antebellum America.” The text of Professor Hoeflich’s lecture is now available as the most recent publication of the Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series. The publication is available for $25.

In his lecture, Hoeflich examines how the subscription method fulfilled both the unique professional needs of early American lawyers and economic restraints of publishers. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of subscription law publications for legal historians.

Hoeflich builds his case around several prominent subscription legal publications, including Bell’s Blackstone, Kirby’s Reports of Cases, Zephaniah Swift’s System of the Laws of Connecticut, Von Marten’s Summary, and Joshua Montefiore’s Commercial Dictionary. Publishers’ varied and creative methods of advertisement for these works receive special attention. Hoeflich examines the importance of subscriber lists as sources of information about the readership of early American legal texts as well.

Professor Roy M. Mersky, Harry M. Reasoner Regents Chair in Law and Director of Research at the Tarlton Law Library, noted that Hoeflich’s lecture “provides significant insights into the development of law libraries in the United States and the evolution of legal publishing practices. Those practices continue to play an important role today in the dissemination of law-related information.”

Hoeflich is the John H. & John M. Kane Professor of Law and former dean of the University of Kansas School of Law. In addition to being one of the few legal historians specializing in the history of the book, Hoeflich is an internationally recognized authority on legal history, Roman law, and the history of the legal profession. Previous to his appointment at the University of Kansas, he served as the dean and professor of law and history at Syracuse, as an assistant professor at Illinois, and as an associate at the firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York City. He has served as the editor of Roman Legal Tradition since 2002.

Hoeflich’s lecture (and all other Tarlton publications) can be ordered online or by contacting Brian Quigley, Tarlton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research, The University of Texas School of Law, 727 East Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX, 78705-3224; phone: (512) 471-6228; fax: (512) 471-0243, e-mail:

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Brian Quigley, Tarlton Law Library, (512) 471-6228, or