Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Early Italian Statutes Exhibition Honors Guido Calabresi ’58

To mark the fact that Judge Guido Calabresi ’58 graduated from Yale Law School 50 years ago, the Lillian Goldman Law Library recently acquired a significant collection of 60 early Italian law books that go back way longer than 50 years. 

The 60 books, obtained from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York in September, become part of the Library’s extensive collection of Italian statutes dating from the 14th to 20th centuries. An exhibition highlighting the collection is now on display in the Lillian Goldman Law Library and is dedicated to Judge Calabresi. Titled “The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library,” the exhibition debuted Alumni Weekend 2008, the occasion of Judge Calabresi’s 50th YLS reunion.

Judge Calabresi was born in Milan, Italy, and graduated at the top of his Yale Law School Class of 1958. He joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1959 and served as Dean from 1985 to 1994, when he was appointed Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit by President Bill Clinton ’73. He is the Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

The Law Library’s collection of Italian statutes is likely the largest collection of its kind in the United States, according to Rare Book Librarian Michael Widener. It began in 1946 when the Library acquired a private collection of 750 volumes. Today, it contains more than 900 volumes of printed books and 60 manuscripts from over 380 municipalities—including large and powerful cities such as Venice and Milan, and small towns such as Pesaro and Montebuono. In their mixing of Roman law, local law, and pragmatic innovations, the Italian municipal statutes became the prototype of European civil law.

The “Early Italian Statutes” exhibition will be on display in the Law Library’s new state-of-the-art Rare Books Exhibition Gallery through February 2009. The Gallery is located on the lower level (L2) of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, directly in front of the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Reading Room.

The exhibition was curated by Michael Widener and by Benjamin Yousey-Hindes, a doctoral candidate in medieval history at Stanford University.