Tom Ellen examines the Law Society Library’s archive of historical artefacts as part of the #archivemonth it is celebrating on Twitter, and also outlines the services it offers to members.
In October 1925 the Law Society celebrated its centenary with a week of banqueting, dances and speeches.
The centenary celebration week began with a speech by the then Law Society president, Herbert Gibson, which the Law Society Gazette suggested was "listened to with close attention by a large assembly of members".
There followed a "brilliant" reception attended by 2,000 guests with music by the full string band of the Royal Artillery; a ball, which was a "distinct success and greatly appreciated"; and a banquet at Guildhall attended by the future King George VI, who gave a toast: "The Law Society; long may it flourish and prosper".
How do we know these details? Because information on the centenary is stored in our corporate archive, including menus, invitations, the presidential address, commemorative editions of the Law Society Gazette and Solicitors Journal, and even a telegram from the prime minister Stanley Baldwin expressing regret that he was unable to attend.
The corporate archive has a large collection of valuable resources, including the minutes of the very first meeting of the Law Institution (as we were then) on 29 March 1825, a complete collection of every Council meeting held ever since, and the minutes and agenda papers of the dozens of committees that have been formed (and dissolved) since 1825. It is very useful when dealing with freedom of information (FoI) requests. We also have information on disciplinary matters involving solicitors, and lots of unusual items and information on the early days of the Law Society and the solicitors' profession that isn't accessible anywhere else in the world.
We provide a free research service for members that includes our corporate archive resources. We are regularly asked to look into the history of law firms or through the disciplinary committee minutes for references to a particular solicitor, and we deal with many enquiries about the history of the Law Society and its committees and associated groups.
We tweet photos of interesting items from the corporate archive on our Twitter feed. This month is our #archivemonth on Twitter and so far we've included photos of a book made of marble, a Law Society rugby cap and many other things. We also have a display in the library on different topics that regularly includes historic objects, photos and materials.
It's certainly interesting to pay a visit to the History Room where our archive material is stored and take a first-hand look at primary sources from history, such as the 1925 centenary materials. Hopefully such detailed mementos will be kept from our bicentenary celebrations in ten years' time!
Call us on 020 7320 5946 or email us: email@example.com to see how we can help with an archive research enquiry or any other type of legal research request.
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Items from the Law Society Library archive