July 25, 2014 Magna Carta Lecture Series Will Examine U.S. Constitution, Women in Medieval Europe and More

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Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or ADA@loc.gov

The next three programs of the Magna Carta lecture series at the Library of Congress will focus on primary-source documents, the U.S. Constitution and women in medieval Europe.

The Library of Congress is holding the lecture series in conjunction with its upcoming exhibition “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor,” which opens Nov. 6, 2014 and runs through Jan. 19, 2015.

The lectures are free and open to the public, and will take place in the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Tickets are not needed. The lectures are hosted by the Law Library of Congress.

  • At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 20, in the Mary Pickford Theater, the series will feature a panel of Library of Congress staff members who will discuss “Magna Carta: Selecting and Conserving Primary Sources.” The panelists will explain how materials are prepared and selected for exhibitions and educational-outreach curriculum. Speakers will include Nathan Dorn, rare book curator in the Law Library of Congress; Stephen Wesson, an educational resource specialist in the Office of Strategic Initiatives; and Holly Krueger, head of the Paper Conservation Section in the Preservation Directorate.
  • At 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16, in the Montpelier Room, Akhil Reed Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will present “Magna Carta and the American Constitution.” Amar will discuss Magna Carta and its historical connection to the U.S. Constitution. Amar’s lecture also will serve as the annual Constitution Day lecture from the Law Library of Congress.
  • At 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015, in the Mumford Room, Ruth M. Karras, chair of the History Department at the University of Minnesota, will present “Magna Carta: Women in Medieval Europe in 1215.” Karras will discuss the social interactions between men and women in medieval Europe, with a special emphasis on how marriage and the status of women changed as English statutory law began to take shape in the 13th century, with the adoption of Magna Carta.

“Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor,” the Library’s 10-week exhibition, celebrates the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the great charter of rights and liberties that stands at the heart of British and U.S. law. One of only four surviving copies of Magna Carta from 1215—on loan from the Lincoln Cathedral in England—will be the centerpiece of the exhibition.

The exhibition is made possible by The Federalist Society and 1st Financial Bank USA. Additional support comes from The Burton Foundation for Legal Achievement, the Friends of the Law Library of Congress, the Earhart Foundation and other donors, as well as contributions received from Thomson Reuters and William S. Hein & Co., Inc., through the Friends of the Law Library. The Library would also like to acknowledge the generous support and assistance provided by the British Council.

The exhibition will draw on rare materials in the Law Library of Congress and from various collections throughout the Library, to tell the story of Magna Carta’s creation in England in 1215, its reinterpretation through the centuries and its emergence as an enduring document of constitutional law in the United States.

The exhibition also will mark the 75th anniversary of the Lincoln Magna Carta’s first visit to the Library of Congress. After a six-month public showing in the British Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the document traveled to Washington, D.C. On Nov. 28, 1939, the British Ambassador to the United States, in an official ceremony, handed Magna Carta over to Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish for safekeeping during World War II. The Library placed the document on exhibition until the U.S. entry into the war, when the Library sent Magna Carta to Fort Knox, Ky. The document returned to England in 1946.

The Law Library of Congress was established in 1832 with the mission to make its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government and the global legal community and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 5 million items in various formats, the Law Library of Congress contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at www.loc.gov/law/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 14-123
ISSN 0731-3527