Thursday, May 10, 2007

International Index to Legal Festschrift Collections

This comes from Mary Bilder and Marguerite Most at Boston College, to whom we owe many thanks.

"Graveyards of scholarship" no more! Contributors to Festschriften and editors alike will be interested in the Index to Common Law Festschriften, "the first index of contributions to common law Festschriften." The index is compiled by Professor Michael Taggart, Roslyn Smith, and Bernice Cole of the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The index has been available since 2005 but may not be familiar to American scholars.

As the editors explain, "The German word Festschrift is now the universally accepted term in the legal academy for a published collection of legal essays written by several authors to honour a distinguished jurist or to mark a significant legal event. The number of Festschriften honouring common lawyers has increased enormously in the last thirty years. Until now, the numerous scholarly contributions to these volumes have not been adequately indexed. This Index fills that bibliographic gap. As at September 2005, there are some 270 common law Festschriften indexed on this database, amounting to over 4,500 chapter entries. In addition, there are more than a thousand entries of English language contributions to predominantly foreign language, non-common law legal Festschriften from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden."

While library catalog bibliographic descriptions now often include Festschriften authors and essay titles (making them somewhat discoverable through keyword searches), the index provides an easy way to search for older works as well as contemporary ones. The index also usefully includes hard-to-discover English language essays in non-predominantly English collections.

If your essay or collection is not included, the editors state they would love to hear from you.

Just one example of what you can find: A search for A.W.B. Simpson turns up Human rights and legal history: essays in honour of Brian Simpson, O'Donovan, Katherine and Rubin, Gerry R., eds. (Oxford University Press).