Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wants: James Wilson's Law Lectures

If you are not a book nut, or, as is said in the vernacular, a bibliophile, you've probably not heard of a wants list. Simply put, a wants list consists of books one is looking to acquire. I'm adding a wants list feature to this blog. Perhaps someone will stumble across something I am looking for and pass along a tip.

James Wilson's biographer, Charles Paige Smith, notes two compilations of Wilson's notes for his law lectures. (Wilson was one of the founders and one of the first justices on the United States Supreme Court.)

First, a published source: James Dewitt Andrews' edition of Wilson's Works, published in Chicago in 1896. This is a reprint of the 1804 version of the notes published by one of Wilson's children. I am looking for a set of the later edition as a reading copy. I suspect the 1804 is a collectible and, although I will look at such an edition, it is not my primary interest.

Next, Smith reports that the manuscripts of Wilson's lectures comprise son 60 notebooks. These were, in 1956, in the possession of James Alan Montgomery, Jr., in Philadelphia. What has become of those notebooks, and has anyone reduced them into a new edition of Wilson's works?