Friday, April 20, 2018

Researching Gun Regulation

Today marks 19 years since the shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, in which two students killed 13 of their classmates before committing suicide. Since that tragic day, such incidents have become sadly more commonplace, with Education Week creating a statistical tracker to record school shootings in 2018. Already this year, 22 people have lost their lives in school shootings, with the majority of these victims killed during the February 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Parkland shooting has since galvanized the national debate about gun control reform.

Yesterday, legal research database HeinOnline announced the release of a free new online library on Gun Regulation and Legislation in America, which is now available to the Duke University community. This library compiles federal legislative histories of firearms laws, congressional committee hearings, Congressional Research Service reports, Supreme Court briefs, and related books and scholarly articles.

Duke Law's new Repository of Historical Gun Laws is another valuable resource for researching the history of firearms regulation in America. Created by Duke Law Professors Joseph Blocher and Darrell Miller, the authors of the forthcoming book The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller, this database includes transcriptions of state and national gun laws from the medieval age to 1776 in England, and from the colonial era to mid-1900s America. A recent Duke Law News story explains the genesis of the project and describes its creation.

The Goodson Law Library and Duke University Libraries collection contains many additional resources on firearms regulation and the Second Amendment. Many titles can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog; for assistance with finding them or with using online resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Summer Access to Research Services

Whether you're heading to a summer job or graduating this May, your access to legal research services like Westlaw, Lexis Advance, and Bloomberg Law will change.

Continuing Students

For rising 2Ls and 3Ls, your Law School research access generally continues uninterrupted over the summer. Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law both allow student usage over the summer for educational as well as for commercial purposes. (However, check with your employer before using your Law School accounts for paid work – many employers prefer that summer associates avoid using their school accounts for researching firm matters.)

Westlaw restricts continuing students' summer access to non-commercial/educational research purposes only. The eligible categories for summer access include:
  • Summer coursework for academic credit
  • Research Assistant assignments
  • Law Review or Journal research
  • Moot Court research
  • Non-profit or clinical work
  • Unpaid externship

Continuing students will receive 60 hours of Westlaw research access during the months of June and July, and full access in August.

2018 Graduates

Before leaving Duke Law, check out the library’s information page on Library Services for Recent Grads/Alumni, which contains helpful details about accessing legal research services, borrowing library materials, and extending building access for bar study.

For graduating 3Ls and LLMs, Lexis Advance and Bloomberg Law automatically extend educational accounts for 6 months following graduation.

Lexis additionally offers the ASPIRE program, providing 12 months of free access to graduates who work in public interest. Proof of work with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is required. To learn more about ASPIRE, visit

Westlaw's "Grad Elite" access continues for 18 months after graduation. Under this program, law grads are allowed 60 hours of usage per month for services like Westlaw and Practical Law, with no restrictions against using them for professional purposes.

For help with your summer access to these or other Duke resources, be sure to Ask a Librarian. The library's summer hours, which take effect at the end of final exams, are Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Friday, April 6, 2018

The Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers

A new display in the Riddick Room case features material from the library's most recent archival acquisition, the Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers. The collection concerns seven people who were falsely accused of sexually abusing dozens of children at a daycare in Edenton, North Carolina in the late 1980s. The case is one example of the preoccupation with perceived abuse taking place at daycares and preschools in the 1980s and 1990s. Often, these cases also involved allegations of Satanism or devil worship. Like the Little Rascals case, most of these daycare abuse accusations turned out to be false.

Riddick Room display of Little Rascals Daycare Case Papers;
curated by Lee Cloninger & Cas Laskowski
The Little Rascals Daycare material primarily concerns State v. Kelly, the trial of Robert "Bob" Kelly, the husband of the daycare's manager, Betsy Kelly. Both were members of the "Edenton Seven." Only two of the seven ever went to trial. Although both were convicted, the convictions were later overturned. For more detail about the collection, refer to the finding aid. Potential researchers should be advised to contact the Law Library in advance of their visit to make sure the collection is on-site.

"Exonerate Edenton Seven" t-shirt from Little Rascals collection and display. Donated by Lew Powell.
"Exonerate Edenton 7" t-shirt, donated by Lew Powell.

The Little Rascals archival material was generously donated by retired Charlotte Observer journalist and author, Lew Powell. Powell has worked to keep the Little Rascals Case in the public eye as a cautionary tale, maintaining a website and blog. The site includes video from a PBS Frontline documentary broadcast series about the case, Innocence Lost.

Donor Lew Powell has also published three books about North Carolina history and trivia, including Carolina Follies: A Nose-Tweaking Look at Life in Our Two Great and Goofy States, which can be viewed in the Rubenstein Library. Powell also amassed a large collection of North Carolina souvenirs and memorabilia; in 2007, he donated that collection to the North Carolina Collection at UNC’s Wilson Library.

For more information about the Little Rascals display and collection, or for additional resources on wrongful convictions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

--Lee Cloninger, Digital and Archival Initiatives Associate