Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Those Were Hanging Times": Witchcraft on Display

[The following guest post was written by Goodson Law Library Reference Intern Kate Dickson, a student at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Information & Library Science.]

In honor of Halloween, the books currently on display in the Goodson Law Library's Riddick Rare Book & Special Collections Room all focus, in one way or another, on the topic of witch trials. The first word that normally comes to mind at the mention of witch trials is "Salem," and the library has a number of interesting sources related to this topic. For example, the 1641 Massachusetts Body of Liberties, which is on display in facsimile, listed twelve crimes carrying the death penalty. The second of these—which was listed even before premeditated murder--provided:
If any man or woeman be a witch, (that is hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit,) They shall be put to death.
The provision remained in subsequent versions of the Body of Liberties, but was later disallowed by the crown.

A 1692 Massachusetts law entitled An Act Against Conjuration, Witchcraft, and Dealing with Evil and Wicked Spirits can also be viewed in the display. Section 1 of the Act provided a detailed description of what actions constituted witchcraft, and Section 2, interestingly, provided definition and punishment for a crime that might today be described as "attempted witchcraft":
[I]f any person or persons shall [attempt witchcraft], although the same be not effected and done, that then all and every such person and persons so offending, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall for the said offence suffer imprisonment by the space of one whole year, without bail or mainprize, and once in every quarter of the said year shall in some shire town stand openly upon the pillory by the space of six hours, and there shall openly confess his or her error and offence, which said offence shall be written in capital letters and placed upon the breast of said offender.
The Act remained in effect until 1695, when it was disallowed for being inconsistent with a statute of King James.

The witch trails in Salem and surrounding towns, which took place in 1691/2-1693, resulted in the executions of at least twenty people, the first of whom was Bridget Bishop. An image of the original warrant for her execution can be seen in the library. It instructs the sheriff to convey her from jail to the place of execution and hang her, and warns that "hereof you are not to faile at your peril."

While the Salem witch trials are certainly the most famous in the United States, they were not the only ones occurring around the same time. In fact, they were predated by similar trials in England, which are described rather humorously in another book on display at the library, The Law’s Lumber Room by Francis Wyatt, published in 1898. He notes in the preface that:
There is a great deal of hanging in this book; that is only because those were hanging times. The law had no thought of mending the criminal; it ended him in the most summary fashion. The death of the chief actors was as inevitably the finish of the story as it is in a modern French novel.
In 1735, the British Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which made it a crime for a person to claim that any human being was guilty of practicing witchcraft, thus ending the period during which witchcraft laws were based on a genuine belief in witches. In 1944, Scottish medium Victoria Helen McCrae Duncan, known as "Hellish Nell," was the last person convicted under this law of fraudulent witchcraft, for conducting séances in her home. On hearing the news of her trial, Winston Churchill sent this directive to the Home Secretary:
Let me have a report on why the Witchcraft Act of 1735 was used in a modern Court of Justice. What was the cost of the trial to the state, observing that witnesses were brought from Portsmouth and maintained here in this crowded London for a fortnight, and the Recorder kept busy with all this obsolete tomfoolery.
An interesting book on the topic of Hellish Nell, The Strange Case of Hellish Nell: The Story of Helen Duncan and the Witch Trial of World War II, is on display at the library.

Come by the Riddick Room on Level 3 of the library to see these and many other books on witch trials. Happy Halloween!

--Kate Dickson, Reference Intern

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Great Paywall

As print subscriptions to newspapers have declined, and even major papers are resorting to newsroom layoffs, it has become increasingly common for newspaper websites to use a paywall model of access for online content. Usually under these models, a selected number of articles are available free online per month, and after that, visitors discover that the next article they wish to read is locked, and requires a paid subscription to access.

Fortunately, the Duke University Libraries have access to thousands of major and local newspapers online. To locate databases which provide access via your NetID and password, visit our link to Online Full-Text Journals and type in the title of the newspaper you wish to access. Law students, faculty and staff have additional access to many newspapers and news wire services through Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law.

But these third-party subscription databases sometimes do not include a newspaper's "web-only" or "online-exclusive" content. Occasionally, there will also be an "embargo period" which delays the latest articles from showing up for a day, a month, or even longer. How can you access a recent article if you have exceeded your free allowance? Websites offer tips like running a blocked article through Google Translate or other Google proxy servers, or accessing links via the papers' social media accounts, which tend not to count against a user's monthly allotment.

However, many of the major newspapers also offer free or deeply-discounted educational subscriptions, which may be worth exploring for the convenience of direct access to your favorite newspaper websites:
  • The New York Times offers non-subscribers 10 free articles per month. Digital-only subscriptions are available to the general public for as low as $15.00/month. However, the Times offers a steep 50% College Rate discount for students, faculty and staff with a valid .edu email address. The education discount can be applied to a print subscription (which also includes full digital access) or a digital-only subscription.
  • The Washington Post offers non-subscribers 20 free articles per month. However, the paper recently announced free, unlimited digital access for anyone with a valid .gov, .mil or .edu email address. New users will need to create and confirm an account at the Free Digital Access page. This free access includes content delivered on the website as well as through the Post's smartphone and tablet apps.
  • The Financial Times recently extended its embargo period with third-party databases from 1 day to 30 days. Subscriptions to the FT website or print edition are notably expensive, with digital-only access available for about $25.00/month, or print subscriptions or a print/digital combination available for nearly $50.00/month. Fortunately, users who register on ft.com can access up to 8 free articles in a 30-day period.
  • The Wall Street Journal was one of the first newspapers to use a paywall model, cutting off free access to its website in 1997. However, some content is still available for free on wsj.com; locked articles are identified with a key icon. WSJ offers students a 75% discount on print subscriptions, which also includes access to the digital edition and mobile app versions.
For assistance with locating full-text access to a newspaper not covered here, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Revenge of the Cite-Checkers

Are you a regular user of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation? If so, the editors of this long-running legal citation manual and style guide want to hear from you. From now through Friday, November 8, a survey on LegalBluebook.com is gathering opinions about the clarity and usability of the current Bluebook, to help inform potential changes to the next edition.

The detailed survey includes questions about each rule and table of the Bluebook, with plenty of room for additional comments. Share your thoughts on your favorite – or least favorite – rules; compare the print edition to its electronic counterparts (on the web and in mobile form); and contribute ideas to improve the next edition. Responses will be reviewed by the team of top law review editors who publish the Bluebook (a joint effort from Columbia, Harvard, Penn, and Yale).

The Bluebook improvement survey also includes an optional prize drawing for respondents who choose to leave their contact information. Five randomly-selected winners will receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. Another twenty participants will receive a free copy of the upcoming 20th edition in print, as well as a two-year subscription to the online version.

The Bluebook has been published since 1926, when it clocked in at a measly 28 pages cover-to-cover (view PDF of the first edition). The proliferation of electronic research tools and an increased need for foreign, comparative and international citation guidance has bulked up the more current editions, with the latest 19th edition (published in 2010) surpassing 500 pages.

For help with navigating the Bluebook, check out section IV of our guide to Law School Success or Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Free Legal Research for State Bar Association Members: A 50-State Survey

Many state bar associations provide their members with free access to a low-cost legal research system, such as Fastcase, Casemaker, or LoisLaw. These systems generally allow users to search or browse primary sources of law from the federal system and the various states. While the premium legal research services Westlaw, Lexis and Bloomberg may offer more bells and whistles (in the form of robust collections of secondary sources; case headnotes and other research aids; and superior citator tools for updating and validating legal materials), their fewer-frills cousins offer an unbeatable price point for searching the full text of case law and statutes. Some of the low-cost research services even offer unique content which is unavailable in their higher-priced counterparts. (For example, in North Carolina, the state's Pattern Jury Instructions are available exclusively on the research system available through the state bar, and cannot be found electronically in the premium legal research services. The low-cost research services also frequently include helpful local materials, such as municipal codes.)

Greg Lambert of 3 Geeks and a Law Blog created an interactive map in March 2010 to illustrate which research services were provided as member benefits of the various state bar associations. But at least eight state bar associations have changed their research subscriptions since that time. Goodson Law Library Head of Reference Services Jennifer L. Behrens has updated Lambert's original map with the current legal research member benefits offered by state bars and state bar associations. View the interactive map below, see the full-size map on TargetMap.com, or download a static version here.

As of October 2013, Casemaker and Fastcase have an even market share of 23 states (the District of Columbia bar also offers Fastcase). Pennsylvania’s bar association continues to provide its members with access to InCite, a research service powered by LexisNexis. Three states (California, Delaware and Montana) do not offer statewide access to a legal research service as a benefit to bar members. (However, several county and local bar associations in California do provide member access to either Fastcase or Casemaker.)

Chart view: Legal Research Services by State Bar Association, as of 10/10/2013

StateService Offered
CaliforniaNone (some county/local associations provide access)
District of ColumbiaFastcase
New HampshireCasemaker
New JerseyFastcase
New MexicoFastcase
New YorkFastcase
North CarolinaFastcase
North DakotaCasemaker
Rhode IslandCasemaker
South CarolinaCasemaker
South DakotaFastcase
West VirginiaFastcase

Currently, Duke Law students can sign up for free access to Casemaker through the CasemakerX educational platform. Although there is currently no direct access at Duke Law to Fastcase, currently-enrolled law students can join the North Carolina Bar Association for free to enjoy this membership benefit. In addition, Duke students will soon see limited access to Fastcase materials through a partnership with HeinOnline which was announced this summer. As part of this agreement, HeinOnline's research libraries will incorporate links to state and federal case law which are powered by Fastcase; Hein will also integrate Fastcase's Authority Check citation analysis tool, in order to locate additional relevant case law and make note of potentially negative treatment. Although even Fastcase's own documentation admits that Authority Check is no substitute for a premium service citator like Shepard's or KeyCite, this Fastcase enhancement to HeinOnline will undoubtedly aid legal researchers.

For more information about low-cost legal research alternatives, check out the Goodson Law Library guide to Legal Research on the Web or Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Federal Reserve: 100 Years of Protecting Your Piggy Bank

Today, President Obama nominated Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as the head of the United States' most powerful authority in monetary policy. (Bernanke will complete an eight-year term as Fed chair in January 2014.) If Yellen's nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, her appointment will mark the first time that a woman has helmed a central bank in the United States – or any other country in the world.

So what's all the fuss about "The Fed"? A quick review of the 2012 U.S. Government Manual should clear up any confusion. The entry for the Federal Reserve System describes the weighty mission of the organization thusly: "FRS contributes to the strength and vitality of the U.S. economy. By influencing the lending and investing activities of depository institutions and the cost and availability of money and credit, the FRS promotes the full use of human and capital resources, the growth of productivity, relatively stable prices, and equilibrium in the Nation's international balance of payments. Through its supervisory and regulatory banking functions, FRS helps maintain a commercial banking system that is responsive to the Nation's financial needs and objectives."

A 2012 Congressional Research Service report provides more detail about the activities and oversight of this important independent agency, which will celebrate its 100th birthday on December 23. In preparation for its centennial, the Fed recently expanded its research system FRASER (Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research) to include more archival materials from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Harry S. Truman Library. FRASER contains a treasure trove of reports, papers, congressional hearings, and archival materials related to the history and operations of this critically important banking system.

To learn more about the Fed's history and its role in regulating the U.S. economy, search the Duke University Libraries catalog for the subject heading "Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.)". You’ll find titles like the recent e-book The Federal Reserve: What Everyone Needs to Know, The Federal Reserve System: A History, and an exhaustive 3-volume History of the Federal Reserve. For help locating these or other titles, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Filling in the Government Gaps

Four days into a federal government shutdown, with no apparent end in sight, citizens are taking stock of the many services and resources which have been affected by the funding lapse. The news media has focused on the most highly-visible impact: thousands of federal workers furloughed or working without pay, hundreds of national parks and memorials shuttered from tourism, and the fate of the animals – and beloved webcams – at our National Zoo.

But the less-obvious impact of the prolonged shutdown is becoming more apparent, as researchers attempt to access the many free federal online resources which have gone dark due to lack of staff and funding. Researchers have long been able to rely on the U.S. Government Printing Office and federal agencies for free copies of federal publications, but access during the shutdown has been unpredictable. Many websites went offline on October 1, displaying only a notice about the lack of funding. Even websites which have remained online (albeit without updates) experience frequent server outages due to lack of maintenance.

We are fortunate at Duke University to have alternative access to many of the most popular federal research materials, both in electronic and print formats. Here is a quick guide to some of the best starting places to access needed federal publications while the government websites are offline.

Agency Publications

Federal executive branch agencies responded to the shutdown differently, depending upon the "essential" nature of their publications and services. The Federal Register, our daily record of executive branch rules, proposed rules and notices, is being updated only with items "that are directly related to the performance of governmental functions necessary to address imminent threats to the safety of human life or protection of property," and only via the Government Printing Office's FDsys site. FederalRegister.gov, a user-friendly version of FR materials dating back to 1994, remains available for historical research purposes but is not currently being updated with the FDsys materials.

Agency decisions, reports and other publications may still be available on some agency websites. However, if you need material from an executive agency which is not currently online (such as the Federal Trade Commission), current Duke University students, faculty and staff may be able to locate an alternate version through HeinOnline's U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions and Appeals library. This library includes PDF scans of decisions and other materials from a variety of federal executive agencies. Titles can be browsed in HeinOnline or searched in the Duke Libraries Catalog, where print versions of these publications will also appear if they are available at Duke. Check out our research guide to Federal Administrative Law for other access options to executive materials.

Congressional Publications

The Library of Congress continues to maintain its primary sites for free federal legislative information, Congress.gov and its predecessor THOMAS. Other Library of Congress sites (including Copyright.gov and the historical audio recordings at National Jukebox) are back online as of October 3, but not being updated. Congressional documents, reports and hearings back to the mid-1990s are also available via FDsys.

If the federal sites experience outages during the shutdown, Duke University also has access to congressional publications through ProQuest Congressional and the U.S. Congressional Serial Set Digital Collection. Our research guide to Federal Legislative History lists other access options for congressional materials.

Education-related Materials

ERIC.gov, the online clearinghouse for education-related reports and journal articles, is another popular research site affected by the shutdown. Duke University subscribes to a commercial version of ERIC, which includes the full text of many ERIC documents and journal articles. But even readers without a current Duke NetID and password can now access ERIC resources for free during the shutdown, courtesy of EBSCO, by visiting http://www.ebsco.com/freeERIC.

Statistical Data

Federal websites contain a wealth of statistical reports and other data, but sadly sites like Census.gov have shuttered. At Duke, a good starting point for government statistical reports and datasets is ProQuest Statistical Insight. Other alternative sources for data are listed in the University Libraries' Recommended Databases for Data and Statistics.

For Further Assistance

To locate other types of federal material which are not listed here, or for help navigating these databases, be sure to Ask a Librarian.