Thursday, February 5, 2009

Leary's Ten Sources for Reconstructing the Life of a Lawyer

Margaret A. Leary, University of Michigan Law School, has posted an essay, Discovering William Cook: Ten Sources for Reconstructing the Life of a Lawyer. It appeared in the Law Library Journal (2008). The essay uses the example of a major UM Law School benefactor to illuminate a legal biography research strategy. Here's the abstract:
Ms. Leary uses a case study to describe ten categories of resources for reconstructing a Manhattan lawyer's life. These resources answer questions about his law practice, scholarship, personal life, personality, values, and philanthropy. The case study uses today's resources to look far back into the details of the life of William W. Cook, who gave his fortune to the University of Michigan Law School.
Leary's ten categories for legal biography are:

1. Background material on the events, places, organizations, and times in which Cook lived
2. Basic biographical information
3. General bibliographical and factual sources
4. Primary sources: archives, census, property, and similar records, and congressional material
5. The judicial system: trial, appellate, probate, and other courts
6. Clubs, lodges, and other social organizations
7. Professionals Cook used, such as architects and piano builders
8. Secondary sources, legal and general
9. People
10. My own imagination, creativity, and passion for the subject.

Image: bust of William W. Cook