Category Archives: History

Memory Hold the Door 2019

“During fall law school orientation, a few biographies from Memory Hold The Door are cited to highlight the professional virtues that law students and lawyers should cultivate. In addition, the Law Library curates a display that celebrates the lives and accomplishments of the highlighted honorees.”

This year, the display honors:

  • a lawyer who helped found both the American Bar Association and the South Carolina Bar Association in the 19th century;
  • a lawyer with a pivotal role in the 20th-century civil rights movement, who later became South Carolina’s first African-American federal judge; and
  • the City of Columbia’s first woman municipal judge, who later served in both Afghanistan and Azerbaijan helping develop emerging legal systems.

To learn more about these honorees, watch for future blog posts, or simply visit the display in the Coleman Karesh Reading Room on the second floor of the Law Library.

“To live for a time close to great minds is the best kind of education.” John Buchan, Memory Hold-the-Door 35 (1940).






Entering the Public Domain Like It’s 1999

As the new year dawns, published works from 1923 enter the public domain. These works were originally slated to lose copyright protection in 1999.

The Public Domain

excerpt from Bound By Law ©2006 by Keith Aoki, James Boyle, Jennifer Jenkins CC BY-NC-SA

When a work is in the public domain, that means it is not protected by copyright. People are free to perform or copy the work, or to create new works based on it, without limiting their use to what is allowable as fair use, and without going through the often confusing and potentially expensive process of figuring out whose permission is needed and obtaining that permission.

What Happened in 1998

US Representative Sonny Bono was previously part of the duo Sonny and Cher. The Copyright Term Extension Act was named in his memory because before his death, he had co-sponsored a similar bill.

In 1998, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. It extended the term of copyright protection from 75 years to 95 years for works published before 1978.

If Congress had not passed that law, works published in 1923 would have entered the public domain on New Year’s Day 1999, because that’s when their 75-year term of copyright protection would have expired.

The extended 95-year term expires 20 years after January 1, 1999; in other words, today—January 1, 2019.

Examples of 1923 Works

Here are a few popular works that enter the public domain today because they were first published in 1923:

  • Cecil B. DeMille’s original silent movie “The Ten Commandments,” which he remade more famously in 1956.
  • Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which ends with the well-known line “and miles to go before I sleep.”
  • Cecil Mack’s and James P. Johnson’s ragtime song “Charleston,” which popularized the iconic 1920’s dance, the Charleston. The song and dance were based on African rhythms.

Learn More

Both Smithsonian magazine and Duke Law School’s Center for the Public Domain have more detailed information on today’s transition of works published in 1923 into the public domain.

Throwback to 1694

HeinOnline recently announced that they have now indexed all the session laws for South Carolina. 


session laws: a publication in bound-volume form of all enactments and resolutions of a legislature passed at a particular session, indexed, and numbered usually in chronological order —distinguished from code 


How far back in history does “all” reach? 

The first recorded South Carolina law was in 1694, when South Carolina was a colony. The law was “An Act for making sufficient Fences, and keeping the same in Repair.”


Here’s how we found it:

  • Go to
  • Click Quick Links, then click HeinOnline in the dropdown.
  • Click Session Laws Library, then click State Session Laws in the dropdown.
  • Scroll down, and click South Carolina. The years available are 1694-2017.

What else can you find? 

  • Click on any year in in the chronological list to see all the South Carolina laws that were passed in a particular year.
  • Type a word or phrase in the “Search this Title” search box to see every instance of that word or phrase in South Carolina law over the years.

Class of 1968 – 50th Reunion Display

The law library celebrated the Class of 1968 with a 50th reunion display of memorabilia at the Circulation Desk.

Course Notes of the late professor Coleman Karesh, after whom the Coleman Karesh Reading Room was named.

Reverse side of Coleman Karesh’s Course Notes. The marbled edges are a decorative feature.

The law school was located in the Petigru building in 1968.

Law students studying in the former law library, in the Petigru building.

The 1967-1968 law school bulletin, with a photo of Thomas Cooper Library on its cover, on display at the Circulation Desk.

In Memoriam: Sarah Leverette

We are saddened that Sarah Leverette passed away on August 29, 2018. She was 99 years old.

Words cannot convey our deep respect for her many contributions to this law library, to the state of South Carolina, and to the legal profession.

We encourage anyone who does not know the story of Sarah Leverette’s life to learn more about her through a booklet by Becci Robbins and a StoryCorps interview with Lisa Wilcox.

The photos below depict the faculty of the University of South Carolina School of Law during a few of the years in which Sarah Leverette was the first and only woman faculty member. She was the law librarian and taught a course that was the precursor to today’s Legal Research, Analysis & Writing.

USC School of Law Faculty – 1960

USC School of Law Faculty – 1961

USC School of Law Faculty – 1963

Sarah was unstoppable. For all of her life, she was a champion of our better angels.  There will never be a world without Sarah.  She touched so many lives for so many years, and inspired so many.  For those whose lives she touched, the world is transformed in a way that can’t be reversed or destroyed.  Her kindness, her example, her influence, and the comfort of her memory are ours to keep in perpetuity. – Rebekah Maxwell


Successful Surgery on 112-Year-Old Books

Lawyers today keep case files securely on their computers, or sometimes on paper in file folders. Sometimes they list cases they have argued on their website, as part of a portfolio demonstrating their expertise.

In the early 1900s, the law firm of Butler and Osborne took briefs and supporting documents from cases they had argued before the South Carolina Supreme Court and combined them into leather-bound volumes that served two purposes: recordkeeping and display.

These volumes eventually made their way to the South Carolina Legal History Room at the University of South Carolina Law Library.

Unfortunately, after more than 100 years, librarians noticed the leather crumbling. The books were quickly losing their structural integrity. Repair work had to be done.

The spine and covers had to be removed as part of the preservation process.

One volume’s spine had been torn, and delicate surgery was required.

Only the “before” and “during” photos are shown above. To see the repaired volumes, visit the Coleman Karesh Reading Room in the law library, and look in the glass display case furthest to the left.