Influences of the Digest Classification System: What Can We Know?

Legal Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 33, 2014

33 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2014  

Richard A. Danner

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: April 14, 2014

Abstract

Robert C. Berring has called West Publishing Company’s American Digest System “the key aspect of the new form of legal literature” that West and other publishers developed in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Berring argued that West’s digests provided practicing lawyers not only the means for locating precedential cases, but a “paradigm for thinking about the law itself” that influenced American lawyers until the development of online legal research systems in the 1970s. This article discusses questions raised by Berring’s scholarship, and examines the late nineteenth and early twentieth century legal environment in which the West digests were created and became essential research tools for American lawyers.

Keywords: legal research, classification systems, West Digest, nineteenth century legal history, Robert C. Berring

Suggested Citation

Danner, Richard A., Influences of the Digest Classification System: What Can We Know? (April 14, 2014). Legal Reference Services Quarterly, Vol. 33, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2425805

Richard A. Danner (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

Box 90361
Durham, NC 27708
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.duke.edu/fac/danner/

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