Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Birthday William Prosser!

Last Monday would have been William Prosser's 112th birthday - a fact I would not have remembered had it not been for my friends at the TortsProf Blog! As everyone knows, his influence on Tort law in the United States was invaluable and the textbook inspired by his own original one is still one of the most popular ones (if not the most popular one) in American law schools. In honor of the ocassion, I am copying an entry I posted here last year: Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to have had Prosser as your Torts professor? Well, now you can get a little bit of a sense of what it would have been like... Professor Chris Robinette from Widener Univ. School of Law had a student recently whose grandfather had Prosser for Torts at the University of Minnesota Law School in 1938-39. The student had his grandfather's notebook for the class, which Prosser taught while working on his hornbook now known as "Prosser on Torts." Interestingly, the student's grandfather, Leroy S. Merrifield, went on to became a Torts law professor himself at George Washington University Law School. Prof. Robinette studied the notebook and wrote a law review article about it. The article, The Prosser Notebook: Classroom as Biography and Intellectual History, is available through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN). You can access it here. As he points out, "the notebook provides the thoughts of an eminent torts scholar, in the process of creating arguably the most influential hornbook on torts, as channeled by a student who would go on to become a Torts professor." And now, the good news: we all have the unique opportunity to see the actual notebook! Thanks to the magic of digital photography and the work of Berkeley law archivist William Benemann, the notebook is now available online here. Go there, check it out and spend some time reading a piece of Tort law education history.

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