Welcome to Litera Scripta, the Bounds Law Library Special Collections blog! We hope to share with you our many books, manuscripts, and artifacts. We’re not particular about form or format. At Bounds, we preserve and catalog a diverse collection of documents and objects, all with an eye to the evolution of common law. Our primary focus is on legal history in Alabama; but we’re also interested in law and society in the south and the nation, in our shared English heritage, and, to some degree, in the history of the civil law.
Thus we’ll be blogging about our collections of early Alabama lawbooks; our Tudor-Stuart treatises, abridgements, and reporters; our first edition Blackstone; our collections of lawyers’ notebooks and Alabama judges’ scrapbooks. That’s just a start! Soon, for instance, we’ll unveil an assemblage of books and ephemera associated with the Knights Templar. And much, much more. Most of our holdings are by definition hard-to-find. Some are large and impressive, such as Justice Hugo L. Black’s reconstructed study; others are small and unique, such as Justice Black’s ouija board. We’ll speak for all of them—with the possible exception of the ouija board, which has been known to speak for itself.
A word about our title, translated freely as “the written word.” These words are plucked from a Latin proverb sometimes quoted by lawyers: “Vox emissa volat; litera scripta manet.” Or, “Spoken words fly away; the written letter remains.” As to the printed letter, the decorative initial letter in our title was borrowed from Renaissance printer Richard Tottel’s 1562 work,Regis Edwardi Tertii a primo ad decimum….
Finally, our editors Paul M. Pruitt, Jr. and David I. Durham would like to introduce themselves.
Paul M. Pruitt, Jr. is Special Collections Librarian at the Bounds Law Library—a position he has occupied since the crust of the earth began to cool— and Adjunct Instructor at the UA School of Law. He is co-editor, with David I. Durham, of the Occasional Publications of the Bounds Law Library. The latest in this series (Number 9) is titled Law and Miscellaneous Works: The Lives and Careers of Joel White and Amand Pfister, Booksellers and Publishers (2019). Pruitt has authored a number of journal articles; in addition he is author of the book Taming Alabama: Lawyers and Reformers, 1804-1929 (UA Press, 2010).
David I. Durham is the Curator of Archival Collections at the Bounds Law Library. In addition to serving as co-editor of the Occasional Publications series with Paul Pruitt, Durham’s research interests include legislative, legal, and diplomatic topics in the United States and Latin America. His book, A Southern Moderate in Radical Times: Henry Washington Hilliard, 1808-1892, explores the role of a political and social moderate in a polarized society and was published by LSU Press in 2008 as part of their Southern Biography Series.