The Book We Love to Hate


There is an interesting article in the New York Times regarding the history of the Bluebook.  Apparently Harvard Law School did not create the "Uniform System of Citation", but rather the idea originated with the Yale Law Journal.

Yale Law School librarians, Fred Shapiro and Julie Graves Krishnaswami, delve into Bluebook intrigue in their forthcoming article in the Minnesota Law Review.  They claim that citation examples created by the editor of the Yale Law Journal in 1920 migrated onto the pages of Harvard's "Instructions for Editorial Work" published in 1922.  By 1934 the Bluebook listed four contributing law reviews on the copyright page, however Harvard kept all the royalty revenue until the mid-1970s.

Now in its 20th edition this style manual is indispensable to the legal profession, but also disdained for its complexity.  Some of the confusing citation conventions still used today were devised in the twentieth century when typesetting was en vogue.  Thanks to the Yale Law School researchers for their historical insights about the Bluebook and its importance to American legal citation.

Submitted by Cheryl O'Connor on December 15, 2015

This article appears in the categories: Law Library

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