Precedents So Scrawl'd and Blurr'd: Readers' Marks in Law Books


Reclaiming credit where credit is due. Henry Wade Rogers, dean of the Yale Law School from 1903 to 1916, was credited as the editor on the title page, while attribution to Arthur Corbin and his co-author John Warren Edgerton was relegated to a footnote on page 724. Corbin inserted an irate memorandum in his copy to set the record straight. "Dean Rogers had been under contract to write this article for nearly 3 years before the publishers employed John and me," writes Corbin. "He never wrote a word with respect to it." Nor did Rogers do any editing. After complaining to the publishers, Corbin and Edgerton won a small fee increase. He added a postscript on the next page: "Dean Rogers never gave me a single suggestion in the preparation of this article. Nor did I ever have any evidence that he read the article, either in ms. or in proof. Pres. Dumont of the Law Book Co. told me that Rogers was paid $700 for 'editing' it." Corbin's note also gives a detailed account of the editorial process.

Henry Wade Rogers, ed. Injunctions. New York: American Law Book Company, 1906. Volume 22 of Cyclopedia of law and procedure. Gift of Michael A. Varet, Law '65.

Authors' own copies of the books they publish can be particularly interesting if they use them to record their later thoughts on the texts which become frozen and unchangeable once the printing press has done its work (unlike texts we write today and hold in electronic form). They may note corrections, additions, or changes of their ideas, or they may mark them up to become the copy text for later editions which may or may not have come to publication.
        David Pearson, Books as History (2012)