Recent Posts

The Herding of the Chairs: Behind the Scenes at the UVA Law Library

The University of Virginia Law Library has approximately 700 chairs. During the year, they often wander—sometimes long distances from where they should be. Twice a year, before the school year begins and before graduation, we like to wrangle the chairs back in place so that the library looks pretty and welcoming. This gargantuan task falls on the shoulders of one person: Library Coordinator Tim Breeden. We’ve documented the story of Tim and the chairs in our 10 minute video feature on “The Herding of the Chairs,” the first in our series of Behind the Scenes at the UVA Law Library. Join us in learning the back story of how Tim helps keep our library a pleasant environment every year, and why the “Old Blues” are so hard to wrangle:

Written by

Ben Doherty

Ben Doherty

Tim Breeden

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

View all posts by , and .

Updates and Reminders for All Students

The Law Library staff is excited to welcome new and returning students to Grounds this fall! We look forward to supporting your research projects and helping you take advantage of all the library has to offer. To get you started, here are a few updates and reminders about our services.

Hours

The Law Library is open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day of the week.

Research Assistance

If you need help finding a source or planning a research project, our reference librarians will be happy to assist you. One of us will be at the second-floor Reference Desk from 9am to 5pm on weekdays. You also can get in touch with us via email at Refdesk@law.virginia.edu or by scheduling a consultation.

Getting Materials from Other UVA Libraries

You can request books from other UVA libraries using the Virgo catalog (https://search.lib.virginia.edu/). To request a particular book, find it in the Virgo catalog, click on the “Request Item” button, and choose “Law Library” as your Preferred Pickup Location. Note that you’ll need to be logged in to Virgo to make a request.

Requesting Scans

If you would like us to scan an article or book chapter for you, please request the scan through Virgo. On the Virgo record for the item you need, click on the “Request a Scan” button and fill out the form that appears.

CALI Sign-up

The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, known as CALI, offers a collection of interactive legal tutorials to help you study. You can register for CALI using the activation code on LawWeb.

Financial Times Access (and other News Subscriptions)

Earlier this year, we added the Financial Times to the list of news sites for which we provide free subscription access. Sign-up instructions for FT, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post are available on LawWeb under Other Student Services.

Online Bluebook

Don’t forget to renew your online Bluebook subscription by filling out this form. (If you didn’t have online Bluebook access last year, you can request it using the same form.)

As you embark on a new academic year, remember that the library is here to help you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us at Refdesk@law.virginia.edu or to stop by and ask us a question.

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Kate Boudouris

View all posts by .

Welcome, New Students!

To new students arriving for orientation: Welcome! The Law Library staff looks forward to working with you throughout your law school career. From personalized research consultations to exam-time grilled cheese breaks, the library offers services to make your time at UVA more enriching, efficient, and enjoyable. This post describes some key resources that will help you hit the ground running this academic year.

Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law Accounts

Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law are three leading legal research databases. The Law Library provides you with subscriptions to all three of these resources. Find sign-up instructions and activation codes on LawWeb (under Other Student Services >> Library).

News Subscriptions

As a UVA law student, you’ll receive free access to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times. You can sign up for newspaper subscriptions on LawWeb under Other Student Services >> News Access.

LR&W Help

Not sure how to tackle your Legal Research & Writing assignment? The Law Library is here to help! Each section of LR&W has a dedicated librarian—or “Library Liaison”—to help students get comfortable with legal research methods. Once classes start, your LR&W instructor will provide more information about meeting with a Library Liaison. For additional research tips, check out this guide to legal research for law students.

Reserve Materials

Some materials in our collection have been placed “on reserve,” which means that they can be checked out for three hours at a time. Study guides, some textbooks, and popular legal treatises are likely to be held on reserve so that more students will have an opportunity to use them. (We only place course materials on reserve if your professor specifically asks us to do so.) You can find these materials in the Klaus Reading Room near the first-floor circulation desk.

Guide to Student Services

As your studies progress, we hope that you’ll find the Law Library to be a valuable partner in your academic efforts. You can learn more about the library’s offerings in this guide to student services. And remember, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact a staff member!

Once again, a warm welcome to all incoming students!

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Kate Boudouris

View all posts by .

Micheal Klepper—43 years of Hoos Spirit in the UVA Law Library

Micheal Klepper retired this summer after over 43 years of exemplifying Hoos Spirit as a law librarian—the longest tenure of any professional librarian in the history of the University of Virginia School of Law. Micheal’s consistent professionalism, enthusiasm, and innovative energy have extended well beyond the doors of the Law School. In addition to being our Media and Communications Librarian, Micheal worked for three decades as the video coordinator for the men’s basketball team, and as a camera and scoreboard operator at the athletic stadiums around Grounds. His days would often begin at five a.m., as he arose to take care of the horses he has always loved. After working all week at the Law Library, he would spend his weekends travelling with the men’s basketball team or operating a camera or scoreboard at one of UVA’s athletic stadiums. Despite this grueling schedule, anyone who knows Micheal knows that he has always exhibited the utmost in class, kindness, and professionalism—always happy to see and help anyone he met.

A librarian and a student with video editing equipment.
Micheal Klepper with UVA student and basketball player Ralph Sampson. Image by Dan Grogan, as published in Roland Lazenby, Sampson: A Life Above the Rim (1983).

Throughout his tenure at UVA, Micheal was an innovator. In the early 1980s he pioneered the production of a “coaches show”—producing the first-of-its-kind weekly television show featuring UVA basketball and football coaches Terry Holland and George Welsh, a format that was copied around the country afterwards. He produced a highlight video for Ralph Sampson at the height of Sampson’s college basketball career that was also groundbreaking in its popularity. In the Law Library, Micheal spearheaded the use of microforms while they were cutting edge technology, was central in getting the library to adopt public-use scanning machines, and produced countless videos containing oral histories of the Law School—all while working thousands of hours at the reference desk. He also started the immensely popular Grilled Cheese Night, serving well over 3,000 hot grilled cheese sandwiches to law students during final exams over the years. When Appalachian School of Law opened in the 1990s to serve the coal mining community of southwest Virginia, Micheal rented a U-Haul truck and drove hundreds of books down to the town of Grundy so that Appalachian could start its law library. Micheal even once captured a rattlesnake that had somehow appeared in one of the UVA Law School’s bathrooms. Most importantly, Micheal always made you feel welcome. We will all miss his steady presence and spirit in the library.

Top Image: Micheal Klepper (left) and Steve West at work in the video control room, 1986.

Written by

Ben Doherty

Ben Doherty

View all posts by .

Celebrating Juneteenth: Emancipation at UVA 

This Juneteenth, we recognize Henry, a man who emancipated himself in March 1865 with the arrival of Union troops in Charlottesville. He was previously enslaved by UVA Law professor John B. Minor (1845-1895).

In a diary entry dated March 6, 1865, Minor wrote:

“The enemy got upwards of 100 horses between Meechum’s river and [the University of Virginia], and multitudes of servants went off with them, poor misguided creatures! Amongst them my boy Henry, hired in Staunton. I lament it more on his account than my own.”

Minor’s eldest daughter, Mary Lancelot Minor, penned a letter to an aunt a couple days later. She wrote that after escaping to freedom, Henry camped with Union officers on Carr’s Hill, the modern-day location of the UVA president’s home, just opposite the Rotunda. 

Beyond Henry’s moment of self-emancipation, we know little more about him. The Minor family purchased or rented his bondage in Staunton, Virginia, a small city 40 miles west of Charlottesville in the Shenandoah Valley. Through Staunton passed the Valley Pike, one turnpike within a well-traveled line of roads that connected the northeastern United States to the Deep South, modern-day Route 11. Common travelers on this road included forced caravans of enslaved people, bound for slaving markets in Georgia or South Carolina. Staunton’s position on the Valley Pike turned the city into a commercial hub for the slave trade in central Virginia.  

The Union troops that arrived in Charlottesville in March 1865 had come from the Shenandoah Valley as part of a mission to destroy Confederate-held rail lines and infrastructure. After leaving the area of the University of Virginia, they continued eastward. Henry may have followed. He may have enlisted in one of the Union army units for Black soldiers, as many free and emancipated Black men did.  

Importantly, even without additional detail, Henry’s story carries great significance for his own life. Further, his decision to emancipate himself repudiated professor John B. Minor’s claim that enslaved Black Americans preferred enslavement to freedom and were better off in forced servitude, a belief that Minor voiced to his students in his UVA Law lectures. 

Juneteenth is a celebration of emancipation and a reminder that emancipation did not come all at once for enslaved Black Americans. For the many enslaved individuals who remained at UVA after the Union troops departed, including the many whom John B. Minor enslaved, emancipation would come only after the official end of the war in April 1865. 

To learn more about UVA Law’s institutional connections to slavery, visit slavery.law.virginia.edu

Featured image: Pencil sketch of Union General Sheridan’s army following Confederate General Early through the Shenandoah Valley. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Randi Flaherty, Head of Special Collections, co-wrote this article.

Written by

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

View all posts by .

BALSA and Legal Aid

UVA Law’s Black American Law Students Association (BALSA, now BLSA) formed in October 1971. Alongside the organization’s main goals of increasing student and faculty diversity, BALSA’s founding members forged their community of action through legal aid. During the 1971-1972 academic year, BALSA members took on pro bono work to provide legal counsel to underserved communities, particularly through collaborations with local legal aid groups like the CharlottesvilleAlbemarle Legal Aid Society (now the Legal Aid Justice Center, founded in 1967 by a group of Charlottesville attorneys and UVA Law students) and the Law School’s Legal Assistance Society. 

This Black History Month marks the one-year anniversary of 50 Years of BLSA, a collaborative project between Law Special Collections and the Black Law Students Association to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the organization. Read more about the project here. One year after the project, we continue to learn about BLSA through archival research and oral history interviews with alumni/ae. Shortly after the project’s debut, then-BLSA President Allison Burns ’22 heard from Bobby Vassar ’72 about the importance of legal aid work to BALSA’s founding members.

COMMUNITY SERVICE THROUGH THE LEGAL ASSISTANCE SOCIETY

Bobby Vassar ’72, James Ghee ’72, and Gwendolyn Jones Jackson ’72 were among the founding BALSA members who participated in the Law School’s Legal Assistance Society, particularly the Society’s Welfare Rights Project. The Project partnered with the Virginia Welfare Rights Organization to assist Virginia residents who requested welfare assistance, were denied, and then exercised their right to a fair hearing to reverse their verdict. Law students conducted legal investigations and advocated for their welfare candidates before a panel of local welfare officials and a hearing officer appointed by the Virginia State Board of Welfare. Project members represented Virginia residents from Albemarle, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fauquier, and Greene counties, as well as residents from the cities of Charlottesville and Lynchburg. Bobby Vassar recalled that these welfare hearings were the first of their kind in at least one of the counties they represented.

“There were very few Blacks on the [welfare] rolls in these counties because Black women with children were expected to be maids and cooks in White homes or to do other menial labor jobs, so only a few of the most disabled women with children were considered worthy of receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, now TANF). In several instances, all or some of the local Social Services Board members attended the hearings. Things got testy in some the hearings with one Board Chairman telling Jim Ghee “I think you done said about enough there, boy”, which prompted the State hearing officer to warn him he would clear the room if there were any further such outbursts. We were able to win benefits for almost all of the families we represented as a result of favorable hearing decisions, and that encouraged other eligible Black families to apply and receive benefits. 

Bobby Vassar ’72, personal correspondence with Allison Burns ’22, 11 February 2021. 

Ghee served as the project’s director from 1971-1972, even traveling to Las Vegas, Nevada in February 1971 to assist the National Welfare Rights Organization in reversing Nevada’s cut-off of a portion of the state’s welfare payments. 

Newspaper article with headline "Ghee Joins Effort Appealing Nevada Welfare Cutoffs"
“Ghee Joins Effort Appealing Nevada Welfare Cutoffs,” Virginia Law Weekly, 19 February 1971. Click the image to read the full article on HeinOnline (Netbadge login required).

“We knew there were risks and we were willing to take them.”

Outside the Legal Assistance Society, Vassar recalled working with then-ACLU attorney John C. Lowe ’67 and fellow BALSA members James Winstead ’72, S. DeLacy Stith ’72, and William “Joe” Bass ’72 to research juror discrimination in Central Virginia. Dean Monrad Paulsen provided the law students with a letter to show local clerks of court explaining that they were part of a UVA Law-sanctioned research project. The letter allowed them access to jury rolls in six surrounding counties. 

“We would use the letters to gain access to the jury rolls to write down the names and then go meet with a pre-arranged group of local Black residents to go over the names to identify whether any of them were Black. The clerk in one county (Nottoway) became suspicious of our group of 4 Blacks and one White after seeing us writing down the names of jurors and actually called the Dean, but was not satisfied with the Dean’s explanation, so closed the office, kicked us out and called the sheriff, town police and state police. We were at the pre-arranged home going over the names we were able to write down so they were not able to find us at first, but once we got back on the highway headed home, one of the officers spotted us, called the others, stopped us and surrounded us with 3 cars of officers who got out with hands on guns to ask us what we were doing. They made us get out of the car and not accepting our “research” story, they took the White student aside and quizzed him on what he was doing with these “colored boys” and how he was making himself look bad and could get in big trouble doing such things. He held to our story and they finally let us go with a warning to us not to return. It was plenty scary, but we knew there were risks and were willing to take them.” 

Bobby Vassar ’72, personal correspondence with Allison Burns ’22, 11 February 2021. 

Vassar recalls that as a result of their research, Lowe was able to file a settlement with the six counties involved to desegregate their jury rolls. 

Vassar’s recollections and this history now appear on the Service page of our online exhibit. We encourage you to explore 50 Years of BLSA to learn more about Black history at UVA Law.

Featured image: Members of the Black American Law Students Association, Barrister 1972. Front Row: Gloria Bouldin ’73, Jean Roane ’72; Second Row: Raymond Jackson ’73, Gwendolyn Jones ’72, Arthur McFarland ’73, John Scott ’73; Third Row: Charles Walker ’73, Adolphus Williams ’72, William “Joe” Bass ’72; Fourth Row: Bobby Vassar ’72, James Winstead ’72, Jack Gravely ’72, Charles Chambliss ’73.

Written by

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

Avatar

Randi Flaherty

View all posts by and .

Part II: The Making of “Bobbleheads by The Green Bag”

On December 6, 2021, UVA Law Special Collections debuted Bobbleheads by The Green Bag. The display, located in the Arthur J. Morris Law Library’s entryway, is a semi-permanent addition to our ongoing exhibitions. The exhibit is curated by Meggan Cashwell and Addie Patrick. 

The blog that follows is the second of a two-part series. If you are curious about the history of The Green Bag and the whimsical nature of acquiring their Supreme Court bobbleheads, we encourage you to check out our initial post here. What follows is a synopsis of our delightful conversation with Green Bag editor-in-chief and bobblehead creator Ross Davies.


My curatorial process with Addie always begins the same way: with copious notetaking and countless brainstorming sessions. Often the topic and timing of the exhibit is obvious, like our tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg upon the Justice’s passing in 2020. At other times, we try to create a concept that is both unique and historical, such as the department’s forthcoming exhibition on UVA Law student doodles (credit Special Collections head Randi Flaherty). The details matter most when curating an exhibit. Every object is carefully selected to represent the narrative and every word of exhibit text is pored over many times. On installation day, we scooch placards a little to the left and right and inch materials this way and that until everything is perfect. Our love of detail piqued our interest in The Green Bag’s Supreme Court Justice bobbleheads, each one decorated with intricate features—some obvious to the onlooker, others more subtle and nuanced. It is Ross Davies’ deep appreciation for detail along with American legal culture that inspired him to create The Green Bag’s Supreme Court bobbleheads as the journal’s editor-in-chief 

Color photograph of two women placing bobblehead figurines in exhibit cases"
Meggan Cashwell (right) and Addie Patrick (left) install Bobbleheads by The Green Bag in the UVA Law Library entryway.

Addie and I first became acquainted with the bobbleheads when we were curating Remembering Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Law Library. Kent Olson, who recently retired as Head of Research Services, kept the library’s collection on his desk. We inquired if we could borrow Justice Ginsburg’s bobblehead for the exhibit and feature it with related paraphernalia. After Kent transferred the bobbleheads to Special Collections upon his retirement this past summer, we approached the department heads and library director about putting the figurines on display.  

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg bobblehead, 2012.

As we began researching, we quickly realized the bobbleheads are not your average ceramic statues. Since The Green Bag released its first bobblehead in 2003, they have become immensely popular in the legal community. The Law Library’s bobbleheads are not the only ones you will come across at the Law School. They adorn the desks of various faculty members as well. It did not take long for Addie and me to feel the enthusiasm around the bobbleheads. We squealed with excitement in the stacks of the library one afternoon when we flipped through the pages of a few past Green Bag issues and came across two bobblehead certificates.  

Our quest for bobblehead knowledge led us back to Kent who referred us to Law professor Thomas Nachbar. He kindly chatted with us regarding his role as a contributing editor (see part I), but he deferred to Ross Davies for all things bobblehead related. Tom introduced us to Ross via email and, a few days before winter break, we sat down with him over Zoom.  

Our desire to bring some reprieve to exam-weary students via the bobbleheads is exactly what Ross intended when he came up with the idea nearly twenty years ago: “It is a part of being human to have a sense of humor, to smile, to have a little bit of fun.” At a time when bobbleheads were all the rage in sports, Ross decided The Green Bag should create a bobblehead in the likeness of then Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. The bobblehead’s features would nod (pun intended) to some of the Chief Justice’s most noteworthy opinions. 

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of William H. Rehnquist
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist bobblehead, 2003.

First, Ross had to determine who would make a bobblehead that would find its way to the Chief Justice himself. After purchasing multiple bobbleheads and exploring their different qualities, Ross determined that Alexander Global Promotions (AGP) was the obvious choice. According to their site, AGP is the number one bobblehead producer in the world. Ross soon found himself on the phone with Malcolm Alexander, founder of the company, who shared his enthusiasm for the concept. A collaboration blossomed that remains at the center of Green Bag bobblehead production today.

Much like our curatorial methods, Ross has his own involved and detailed process for creating the next bobblehead. Once he and other Green Bag editors select a Justice, Ross begins reading that Justice’s opinions. The facts of the cases, the analogies Justices make in their opinions, and the interesting words they use become the basis for bobblehead annotations. Ross then writes page after page of specs and sends them off to AGP. From there, Ross and AGP go back and forth on drafts until the bobblehead is just right. Ross wanted Justice John Paul Stevens to stand on a Sony Betamax as a reference to Sony v. Universal (1984). Malcolm Alexander suggested that Ross purchase that particular model and send it to AGP so that they could design the base of the bobblehead as an exact replica. Ross explained that the Sony Betamax he purchased sat on a table as a visual reference for AGP employees during production.

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of John Paul Stevens
Justice John Paul Stevens bobblehead, 2004.

The bobbleheads are hand painted, allowing AGP to provide the level of specificity the Green Bag desires for each figurine. The forthcoming Justice Sonia Sotomayor bobblehead is standing on a plate (a reference to her opinion in a patent case), with a slice of pie and a loaf of bread at her feet (references to her use of analogies involving pies, loaves, and slices). AGP made each item look as close to the actual baked good as possible. “Do you know how hard it is to paint a piece of ceramic to look like a piece of apple pie?Ross exclaimed. “We challenge their art; we challenge their ability to make cool things. Justice Sotomayor is wearing a baseball mitt (a reference to a baseball analogy in yet another opinion), and not just any mitt. It is modeled from the mitt of Jorge Posada, catcher for the New York Yankees. Justice Sotomayor is a longtime Yankees fan and sits in the Judge’s Chambers section at Yankee Stadium.

Color photograph of a bobblehead figurine of Sonia Sotomayor
Forthcoming Justice Sonia Sotomayor bobblehead. Image courtesy Ross Davies, 2022.

As for choosing the next Justice to feature, it is largely “arbitrary and capricious” in true Green Bag fashion. Unsurprisingly, Ross says he receives many suggestions. The Green Bag does have one “rule” for the present Court: A Justice has to serve for a minimum of ten years before getting a bobblehead. Ross admits that there is a sense of finality to summing up a current Justice’s career. In response, The Green Bag has started making “pocket part” bobbleheads—mini versions of the originals that feature later opinions. The journal has already produced two pocket versions for Justice William H. Rehnquist.  

The Green Bag’s decision to make non-Justice bobbleheads in recent years has allowed them to include other lawyers who have made a profound impact on the profession. When we asked Ross why he selected young Thurgood Marshall, Belva Ann Lockwood, and William T. Coleman, he simply responded, “They are lawyers whose contributions merit memorialization in a bobblehead.” Ross’ love of American legal history, which he teaches at George Mason University among other subjects, is evident in every bobblehead he crafts. 

At the end of the day, Ross says The Green Bag is simply trying to be nice: “We’re not in this to score points.” The ultimate purpose of the bobbleheads, besides giving a Justice a good-natured laugh, is to spread knowledge about the Supreme Court: “We have a chance to contribute a tiny bit to people understanding the depth and character and trajectory of the Supreme Court. Our challenge is to create and properly orient what we do so it fits the flow of history.” 

Written by

Avatar

Meggan Cashwell

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

View all posts by and .

Part I: The Making of “Bobbleheads by The Green Bag”

On December 6, 2021, UVA Law Special Collections debuted Bobbleheads by The Green Bag. The display, located in the Arthur J. Morris Law Library’s entryway, is a semi-permanent addition to our ongoing exhibitions. The exhibit is curated by Meggan Cashwell and Addie Patrick.

The blog that follows is the first of a two-part series. The post below provides a history of the law journal The Green Bag and its bobblehead collectibles as well as a behind-the-scenes look at our curatorial process. The second post will feature an interview with Green Bag editor-in-chief and bobblehead creator Ross Davies.


Patrons and passersby who come to the Law Library will notice some familiar faces as they enter through the main doors. At the end of the reader rails, which narrate the Law School’s two-hundred-year history, are two display cases now filled with the nodding figurines of Supreme Court Justices and other notable U.S. lawyers. These whimsical bobbleheads are produced by The Green Bag, a quarterly law journal first published from 1889-1914 and revived in 1997.

Color photograph of bobblehead figurines
The Law Library’s collection of Green Bag bobbleheads.

The Green Bag was likely named after the green bag that many nineteenth-century legal professionals used to carry their papers. The idea for the journal came from Charles C. Soule, an entrepreneurial bookseller from Boston who had been publishing an entertaining advertising brochure, Legal Bibliography,since October 1881. The first Green Bag issues, which Soule began publishing in 1889, included legal cases in verse, portraits of members of the bench and bar, sketches of American law schools, and articles on legal history.1 The Green Bag journal was reestablished in 1997 by Ross Davies, David Gossett, and Montgomery Kosma, three former classmates at the University of Chicago Law School. This “second edition” publishes similar articles designed to inform and amuse legal professionals.2 UVA Law professor Thomas Nachbar, who attended Chicago Law with the three founders, serves as a contributing editor. Nachbar designed the original website for The Green Bag. He and his colleagues admired the publication because they longed for a law journal that would invite discussion and inquiry but not demand the formality of rigorous Bluebook citations.

“We need a forum in which legal thinkers can reveal their thoughts without spending six months to encase them in the cloying paraphernalia prescribed by the prevailing mores of contemporary scholarship. We need a periodical to which the inquiring reader can turn for amusement, enlightenment, and even instruction without having to take the weekend off. The exchange of ideas should be a treat, not a chore; and it is in that spirit that the Green Bag 2d is conceived.”   

David P. Currie, Green Bag3

 In 2003, The Green Bag began producing bobblehead dolls and other collectibles, which add to the journal’s whimsy. The idea came from Davies (more on that in our forthcoming post) who released the first bobblehead, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, in 2003. Standing atop a map of Carbon County, Wyoming, and holding volume 529 of the U.S. Reports, the Rehnquist bobblehead launched The Green Bag’s production of legal collectibles which portray  “Justices as judges, respectfully yet entertainingly.” Davies designs these “ceramic portraits,” as he calls them, and encourages collectors to guess the meanings behind each figurine’s accessories.4 Following a bobblehead’s release, The Green Bag publishes an annotation page which provides citations for the bobblehead. 

Color photograph of bobblehead figurine of Justice William H. Rehnquist
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist bobblehead, 2003.

Green Bag Supreme Court bobbleheads, of which there are 28 so far, span the history of the Court, from the very first Justices to those currently serving. Each Justice has a unique set of features (annotations) that represent some of their most notable opinions, which occasionally incorporate some personal aspects as well. Sandra Day O’Connor’s bobblehead is wearing shoes that replicate the ones she wore when she was sworn in as the first female Justice on September 25, 1981. Sitting beside her bobblehead is a bobbling cow, signifying her childhood spent on the Lazy B Ranch in Arizona, an experience Justice O’Connor considers instrumental to her career. In recent years, The Green Bag has started making non-Justice bobbleheads including Belva Ann Lockwood, young Thurgood Marshall, and William T. Coleman Jr. The bobbleheads are handmade by Alexander Global Promotions.  

Color photograph of bobblehead figurine of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor bobblehead, 2004.

The Green Bag produces about a thousand of each bobblehead and distributes them in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner. Some subscribers find bobblehead certificates printed within the pages of their Green Bag issue. The certificates must then be delivered in-person to the offices of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, in Washington, DC, the official “bobbleheadquarters,” according to The Green Bag’s website. On occasion, The Green Bag prints certificates on the backs of trading cards called “Supreme Court Sluggers,” many of which feature paintings by John Sargent III and Alec Spangler. Like the bobbleheads and the more recent snow globes, The Green Bag gives these cards away “arbitrarily and capriciously.” Surprise certificates also show up in items auctioned for charity and in other unexpected places.5 Lucky Law School librarian Kate Boudouris received the Justice Byron R. White bobblehead when she attended a presentation by Davies at the 2019 American Association of Law Libraries Annual Conference.  

The Law Library’s collection of bobbleheads, which is extensive but incomplete, adorned the desk of Kent Olson, former Head of Research Services. Olson had been collecting the bobbleheads on the library’s behalf since 2003. He tendered his certificates with Nachbar who, at one time, helped distribute the bobbleheads as a contributing editor. Once distribution transferred to O’Melveny and Myers in DC, Olson sent a friend to pick up the bobbleheads on the library’s behalf. Olson turned the bobbleheads over to Law Special Collections when he retired in the summer of 2021. The bobbleheads are a unique addition to the library’s archives, which primarily consist of print materials.  

Color photograph of woman cleaning bobblehead with paintbrush
Meggan Cashwell, library postdoc, cleans each bobblehead in preparation for their debut.

The exhibit traces the history of The Green Bag as a publication and explores the process of acquiring the bobbleheads. The display is organized chronologically, with past and present Justices grouped separately. We intentionally timed the display to provide a bit of fun to students and faculty during exams. For the initial two weeks, we invited patrons to take our own version of The Green Bag’s “Lunchtime Law Quiz.” Those who answered three out of five questions correctly were rewarded with UVA Law prizes 

Color photograph of two women photographing bobbleheads
Jane McBrian (left), digitization specialist, and Addie Patrick (right), library coordinator, photograph the bobbleheads for eventual inclusion on the Law Special Collections website.

Our display is, in part, inspired by the University of Minnesota’s online exhibit, “Equal Caricature Under Law,” curated by Barbara Berdahl, Pat Graybil, and Ryan Greenwood. Yale University, the official repository of The Green Bag bobbleheads, also had a display, “Wobbling Justice.” The Law Library intends to add to the exhibit if we are among the lucky subscribers to receive certificates for future bobbleheads.

 

Content for this exhibit and two-part blog series is indebted to conversations with Kent Olson, Thomas Nachbar, Ryan Greenwood, and Ross Davies.

Notes

  1. Ross E. Davies, “Legal-Bibliographical Roots: Fragments of a Green Bag Origin Story” The Green Bag 24, no. 3 (Spring 2021): 253-72.
  2. For more on the Green Bag bobbleheads, see Jessica Gresko, “Bobbleheads Honor Supreme Court Justices,” The Advocate, 1 January 2014, https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/article_07350219-8da0-5bde-91f1-af8e84b79fae.html; “Bobbleheads Honor Supreme Court,” Politico, 31 December 2013https://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/supreme-court-justice-bobbleheads-101621; Christopher Capozziello, “Relax, Legal Scholars: Bobbleheads are Safe at Yale,” New York Times17 March 2010.
  3. David P. Currie, “Green Bags,” The Green Bag 1, no. 1 (Fall 1997): 1-2.
  4. Ross E. Davies, “Ceramic Spirits of the Law” The Green Bag 24, no. 4 (Summer 2021): 357-70. 
  5. The Green Bag’s website outlines the process of how to acquire a bobblehead.

Written by

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick

Addie Patrick is the Library Coordinator at the UVA Law Library.

Avatar

Meggan Cashwell

View all posts by and .

Take a Break and Color in a Rare Book

Exam takers at UVA Law have a new study break opportunity: an adult coloring book filled with art and ornamentation from the Law Library’s rare book collection. Titled The Art of Law, this 10-page coloring book includes portraits, decorative title pages, and other illustrations dating back to the 1560s. Anyone looking for a brain break can grab a copy and some colored pencils by the Circulation Desk while supplies last. This is your chance to color in a rare book!

Would-be artists near and far can also download a PDF here.

Law Special Collections produced Art of Law and houses the law library’s rare book collection. UVA graduate student Janice Murray began work on the coloring book in summer 2021 as part of an internship through UVA’s Institute for Public History. Law Special Collections staff, led by Jane McBrian, completed design and production of the book in fall 2021. This coloring book project accompanies the exhibition The Art of Law in UVA’s First Law Library, which is currently on display at the UVA Law Library.

 

Written by

Avatar

Randi Flaherty

View all posts by .

Banned Books Week 2021

It’s Banned Books Week! Traditionally observed the last week in September, Banned Books Week is a time when the American Library Association, the Association of University Presses, and other organizations draw attention to past and present attempts to censor books.

Banned Books Week also highlights the ALA’s annual list of the top 10 most challenged books. When we say that these books were “challenged,” we mean that someone tried to have them removed or restricted in a library or school. Common reasons for challenges in 2020 included LGBTQIA+ content, perceived anti-police sentiment, and issues having to do with race.

You’ll find several of the ten most challenged books of 2020 in the Law Library’s collection. They include:

For librarians in schools and public libraries, responding to challenges can be a complicated part of the job—one that implicates professional values like intellectual freedom and social responsibility. Thus, Banned Books Week is more than a chance to speak out against censorship; it’s also an opportunity to reflect on the values that animate our daily work.

For those of us in the legal field, Banned Books Week is an occasion to celebrate free speech, and perhaps to consider its benefits, limitations, and potential for change. Here at UVA, we’re lucky to work with scholars who have written thoughtfully on these topics. For example:

In honor of Banned Books Week, we’ve created a pop-up display highlighting some of the works mentioned in this post. We encourage you to take a look and enjoy your freedom to read!

Written by

Kate Boudouris

Kate Boudouris

View all posts by .