About the organisation:

The Legal History and Rare Books SIS (LH&RB)was established in 1989 at the AALL Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada. Its purpose is to promote the study and appreciation of legal history and rare books among members of the profession.

To that end, the SIS hopes to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information concerning all aspects of these two different yet interconnected subjects.

The organization publishes a newsletter and sponsors speakers and programs on both legal history and rare books at the Annual Meeting. In the hopes of attracting as wide an audience as possible, the SIS encourages vendors and book dealers to join the group.

About the essay competition:

The Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section (LH&RB) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) announce the eleventh annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The Competition is named in honour of the late Morris L. Cohen of Yale Law School, one of the founders of LH&RB and an eminent scholar of legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography.

The purpose of the Competition is to encourage scholarship in the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and to acquaint students with AALL and law librarianship.

The Competition is jointly sponsored by LH&RB and Gale, part of Cengage Learning, a world leader in e-research and educational publishing for libraries, schools and business.

AALL promotes the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, fosters the profession of law librarianship, and provides leadership in the field of legal information. LH&RB promotes the study and appreciation of legal history and rare books among members of the law library profession.


Full and part-time students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, or related fields are eligible to enter the competition. Membership in AALL is not required.

The competition is open to students attending graduate school either in the United States or abroad, and students need not to be U.S. citizens to enter.

Students attending foreign graduate schools who submit entries to the competition may be asked to provide evidence of current accreditation of their schools by the appropriate government or administrative entities.

Entrants must provide evidence of current enrollment by submitting one of the following: official or unofficial transcript, registrar’s written confirmation of enrollment, or faculty member letter on school letterhead confirming enrollment.

Previous winners of the competition are ineligible. Previous contestants may submit papers in succeeding years if they continue to meet eligibility requirements.

Members of the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition Committee and current officers of LH&RB are ineligible to enter the competition. Other members of AALL are eligible if they meet the qualifications above.


  • Essays may address any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives; criteria on which papers will be judged include originality of topic or approach, quality and depth of research and analysis, clarity of presentation and contribution to the field.
  • The subject should be explored in depth with appropriate reference to sources. Essays should be at least ten and not more than 30 pages, approximately 10,000 words maximum.
  • As a guideline, the Committee anticipates essays of approximately 20 to 30 double spaced pages including footnotes (preferred) or endnotes. Authors should follow a consistent format appropriate for a research paper such as that set forth in The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed., 2017).
  • Footnotes should follow The Chicago Manual of Style, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (20th ed. 2015), or the AALL Universal Citation Guide (1999).
  • The essay must include an abstract not to exceed 250 words, placed either at the head of the essay or on a separate sheet, and must include a bibliography of works consulted at the end.
  • No essay or portion of an essay that has been published, or submitted or accepted for publication before April 15, 2019, will be eligible for consideration.
  • Before submitting an essay, authors are responsible for having conducted a search to ensure that a substantially similar paper has not been published elsewhere. One essay may be entered per student.
  • Essays may be co-authored if each author meets the eligibility requirements. Co-authors of a winning paper will share the cash prize and the award for travel expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting.

How to submit:

The entry package consists of:

  • 2019 entry form.
  • Evidence of current enrollment.
  • Abstract of the essay.
  • Essay o Bibliography of Works Consulted.

Please note: Before submitting your entry package, please ascertain that your name does not appear on any page of your essay or abstract or in the document’s file name.

Submit the entry package electronically to lhrb.sis[at]gmail.com

LH&RB and AALL do not assume responsibility for incomplete, lost, stolen, late, misdirected or misplaced entries.

Important dates and deadlines:

Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m., April 15, 2019 (EDT). Entries submitted after this time will not be accepted.


The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and present the essay at an LH&RB-sponsored webinar.

The winner and runner-up will have the opportunity to publish their essays in LH&RB’s online scholarly journal Unbound: A Review of Legal History and Rare Books.

Contact info: Please direct questions to Tim Kearley at TKearley[at]uwyo.edu.

For full details, click here.