Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Studies in Scarlet" Trial Collection

Scandal winding up in court is nothing new. This month the Harvard University Libraries launched a fascinating new digital collection of over 450 searchable full-text trial narratives, all involving divorce, domestic violence, abduction, adultery and related issues during the 19th and early 20th century. "Studies in Scarlet: Marriage and Sexuality in the U.S. and U.K., 1815-1914" features mostly privately reported and published trial narratives and transcripts. While these cases from the Harvard Law School Library's collections lack the precedential value of officially reported appellate opinions, they offer real-life insights and examples of how the law was applied in the context of public attitudes, gender roles and societal standards of an earlier era. Among the diverse subjects are Caroline, Queen Consort of George IV, Oscar Wilde, and wealthy but lesser known New Yorkers suing for divorce.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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