Archives Dig History
With the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the law school, it seems fitting to look back at where we have come from through the eyes of the Library. The Law Library has a substantial Cooley Law School Archives collection relating to materials collected that are historical in nature containing various publications created and distributed by the school. The collection is large with nearly 1,000 items. While there is little new material being added to this collection due to the role the internet plays in creating a communications presence, you might be surprised to know that it does continue to grow. Links have been added when possible to online additions and there are some messages that are best conveyed in a print format. That is where this collection becomes invaluable.
The collection consists of many interesting and informative materials about the law school. Included are a full run of the print Pillar student newspaper which was published some years as the Student Bar Association News (1981 - 1988) began in 1975. In more recent years, it has moved to an online only format. There is a collection of the print admission viewbooks which was given to prospective students beginning in 1973. These booklets also served as a listing of courses, faculty, and various other student services. The advent of a digital world has made the print viewbook obsolete and students get the information from a variety of web-based documents instead. There is a large collection of invitations from graduation announcements to alumni events across the country. The ornate invitation from the Coolenium (the grand opening of the Cooley Center on December 31, 1999) stands out as does the one for the naming of the Library in honor of Judge Brennan (consisting of a series of print card catalog cards with information about the event). The Law School has never shied away from creating unique and innovative ways to get a message out to its’ audience.
The collection has unusual items in it as well. Often referred to as ephemera in the archival world, you can find a fork that was a part of an invitation from a fundraising event, a series of t-shirts from the fun runs for education the school created, and a variety of bags from different events. The Library Cataloging Librarians have created an interesting array of cataloging records over the years to describe the unique items that pop up on their desks and need to be cataloged for the Archives.
Not as exciting, but certainly as important to the development of the school are a series of materials in large, thick binders and spiral bound books that compiled together create our record of materials and correspondence with the American Bar Association and accreditation issues over the years. Likely not 100% complete, the materials are still a significant archive of our history with additional material added when an old document of interest is discovered. We also are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and have a stack of that documentation as well.
While the goal is ultimately to digitize significant portions of this collection, for now, the best way to access these materials is by accessing Coolcat online. Search the word “Cooley,” and then limiting the results to the location of Lansing Cooley Archives (location options found on the left-hand side of the search results screen). You will be surprised at some of the results.
The Cooley Archives collection is the largest of our specialty collections, but there are others with archival value including Brennan Archives (materials from Judge Brennan’s legal career and time as the President of the Law School), Faculty Archives (articles and books written by faculty over the past 50 years), and our Rare Books collection (books relating to our namesake, Justice Cooley, related to the history of the state legal materials, and regional legal items). The Archives brings to life the history of the law school and makes it accessible if a combined organized collection that is preserved for years to come.