June 17th, 2013 | University

Yale acquires rare books and manuscripts collection

Beinecke_Library_interior_2
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

Yale recently acquired a substantial selection of rare books and manuscripts pertaining to English legal history that is almost 10 times larger than the Library of Congress’s collection, according to The New York Times.

Comprising about 400 manuscripts and 200 books, the collection — which includes a handwritten, pocket-sized copy of the Magna Carta that dates to the 14th century — was amassed by Anthony Taussig, a recently retired British barrister who began collecting historical legal writings in the 1970s. Taussig told the Times that he chose to eventually house his collection at Yale because he was familiar with the Yale Law School’s stellar reputation and with Mike Widener, a rare-book specialist who works at the Law School Library. The University also agreed to keep his collection intact, Taussig noted.

Fred Shapiro, an associate librarian at Law School Library, told the Times that “if [Taussig's collection] were a library, it would be a better library than almost any of the other law libraries.”

Shapiro would not comment on how much the University paid for the acquisition, which was arranged jointly by the Law School Library and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.