The Harris County Law Library has been collecting legal publications for more than 100 years and our historical collection is home to many rare and unique works. Once in a while, we find something so singular that we have to share our find. Earlier this month, a library staff member opened a book cover and discovered the signature of one of the most recognizable names in legal bibliography - John Henry Wigmore.
Wigmore was a well-respected law librarian, professor of law, and dean of Northwestern School of Law in the early 20th century who is remembered as one of the legal community's most respected scholars for his work Wigmore on Evidence. Even today, the preeminent treatise on evidence - The New Wigmore - drops the subject in its title in favor of the original author whose name is synonymous with the topic. Find more on this extraordinary scholar in the Fall 2013 issue of LH&RB on the American Association of Law Libraries website.
The signed book is a 1936 copy of Panorama of the World's Legal Systems. The work first appeared as a 3-volume set that provided a unique comparison of various legal systems, complete with photographs, illustrations, and maps. In 1936, West publishing released the library edition to make the content more widely available. As the "intent was to popularize the study of comparative law," making the format more accessible helped Wigmore's ideas about foreign legal systems travel well beyond academia. The Law Library's copy found its way onto the shelves of a local practicing attorney who represented Texas oil companies in the early 20th century and was donated along with other volumes at the end of his practice.