Riddick Room

Dedication of the Riddick Room
Dr. Floyd M. Riddick, at right, with former Dean (now Professor) Paul D. Carrington at the dedication of the Riddick Room

The late Dr. Floyd M. Riddick (Ph.D. '37) and Marguerite F. Riddick were primary benefactors of the Goodson Law Library. In addition to providing the naming gift for the Floyd M. Riddick and Marguerite F. Riddick Rare Book and Special Collections Room, the Riddicks have established an endowment to support the library's collections in the areas of legislative and parliamentary procedure and American government, and have donated major portions of Dr. Riddick's personal library to Duke. Dr. Riddick passed away in 2000, at the age of 91. Mrs. Riddick passed away in 2007 at the age of 92. An article describing the Riddicks' contributions to the law school and Dr. Riddick's career in the Senate was published in the Winter 1993 issue of the Duke Law Magazine.

The newly refurbished Floyd M. and Marguerite F. Riddick Rare Book and Special Collections Room is located in the Reading Room on Level 3 of the Goodson Law Library (view map and description). Works from the Riddick collection and other special collections of the Law Library are on display in the room, along with items from the Law Library's rare book collection, including a first edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, which the library added as its 500,000th volume in 1997, thanks to a generous gift from Frances Fulk Rufty (J.D. '45) and the late Archibald C. Rufty.

Hanging in the room are selected photographs from Dr. Riddick's career and an unusual portrait of Chief Justice John Marshall, which is a copy of a 1808 crayon-on-pink-paper original by Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin (1770-1852). The original portrait is housed in the Duke University Nasher Museum of Art.

The Riddick Collections

Several collections associated with the Riddicks are housed in the Goodson Law Library: some materials are in the Special Collections Room; others are shelved in the general library collections, marked with bookplates acknowledging the Riddicks' contributions.

  • Autographed Senatorial Materials. The basis for Dr. and Mrs. Riddick's involvement with the Law Library is the collection of autographed senatorial books, which was donated to the library in 1979. The collection consists of about 70 volumes written by members of the United State Senate and inscribed to Dr. Riddick during and after his service as Parliamentarian of the Senate. The collection includes signed copies of volumes written by Lyndon B. Johnson, Sam Ervin, and Robert F. Kennedy, as well as autographed copies of most of the works of former president and Duke Law alumnus, Richard M. Nixon. The collection is housed in the Special Collections Room.
  • Writings of Dr. Riddick. Dr. Riddick is the author of Senate Procedure, which is considered to be the bible of U.S. Senate practice and procedure; the most recent (1992) edition is titled: Riddick's Senate Procedure. He is also the author of the earlier Congressional Procedure (1941), and a number of other books and articles on topics of legislative and parliamentary procedure, including Riddick's Rules of Procedure: A Modern Guide to Faster and More Efficient Meetings (1985). Copies of all editions of Dr. Riddick's works, as well as bound transcripts of oral history interviews conducted with Dr. Riddick are kept in the Special Collections Room.
  • Parliamentary and Legislative Procedure. The Law Library's extensive collection of materials on United States and international legislative and parliamentary procedure consists largely of materials donated by Dr. Riddick or purchased through the Riddick Endowment. To ensure their accessibility, most of these materials are kept in the general classified treatise collection of the library and include bookplates acknowledging the Riddicks' contributions. A few autographed books from this collection are in the Special Collections Room.
  • Congressional Materials. During his years of service as parliamentarian of the Senate and thereafter as parliamentarian emeritus, Dr. Riddick was directly involved in many major legislative and other activities of the Congress. The Special Collections Room holds a set of congressional publications documenting these matters, many of which are linked to the volume of transcripts of Dr. Riddick's remembrances, kept with the collections.
  • Dr. Riddick's Personal Library. The law library is also fortunate to be the repository for Dr. Riddick's personal collection of books on American government and foreign policy, many of which date from his time as an undergraduate and doctoral student at Duke in the 1930s. This collection is kept in the Special Collections Room. It also includes several volumes from the Riddicks' library on other topics.

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The Rare Books Collection

There are approximately 1,600 volumes in the Goodson Law Library rare book collection, which is housed in the Marguerite F. and Floyd M. Riddick Rare Book and Special Collections Room and in locked shelving in Level 1 of the Law Library. The collection includes works that are old, rare or which contain interesting inscriptions. The collection consists primarily of English books published before 1800, and American imprints published before 1870, with a focus on early North Carolina law books. The oldest work in the collection is an annotated decree of Pope Gregory IX (1145-1241), dating from the 14th century.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769)
    Thanks to a generous gift from alumna Frances Fulk Rufty '45 and the late Archibald C. Rufty, the library added as its 500,000th volume in 1997 a first edition of Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769). In the 1750s Blackstone began a series of lectures on English law, the first ever given at a university. These lectures became the basis of the Commentaries, which explained and organized the English common law into a comprehensive and systematic summary in four volumes: Rights of Persons, Rights of Things, Private Wrongs and Public Wrongs.
    The Commentaries were studied by American lawyers throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Abraham Lincoln famously read Blackstone to teach himself the law. Blackstone also had direct influences on the law in North Carolina and on Duke. In his history of Duke Law School, W. Bryan Bolich notes that in 1887, when the teaching of law was revived at Trinity College, the "topical outline [of the course] followed Blackstone’s Commentaries, the prescribed collateral text...." In 1907, Samuel Fox Mordecai, who headed the school of law established at Trinity College in 1904, published Law Lectures: A Treatise from a North Carolina Standpoint, on Those Portions of the First and Second Books of the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, Which Have Not Become Obsolete in the United States.
    The library’s set of the Commentaries has been rebound in full calf binding with marbled end papers, a style typical of the late 18th century.
  • De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae (approximately 1250-1259) De Legibus et Consuetudinibus Angliae is the first systematic exposition of English law. The treatise consists of a lengthy introduction, showing influences of Roman law, and an explication of the practice of the courts and the various forms of actions. It provides an important historical record of the development of English law.
    For many years this treatise was thought to have been written by Henry de Bracton (d.1268) between 1240 and 1256. Contemporary scholars believe that it was begun much earlier and came into Bracton’s hands in the 1230’s; portions may have been rewritten after his death. It remains unfinished.
    The library owns the first printed edition, produced in London in 1569 by Richard Tottle, one of the great law printers of the 16th century.
  • Kent’s Commentaries on American Law (1826-1830) Like Blackstone’s Commentaries, James Kent’s Commentaries on American Law is an attempt to synthesize and analyze the law. It is one of the most important early American law books, and was reprinted throughout the19th century. In addition to writing the Commentaries, James Kent was a distinguished judge (he was chief justice of the New York Supreme Court and chancellor of the New York Court of Chancery) and the first professor of law at Columbia College.
    The library owns several editions of Kent’s Commentaries, including a first edition donated in 1930 by William Sawyer, a New Hampshire judge and book collector, and the 12th edition, edited by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., one of the most important later editions.
  • Works of Importance to North Carolina Law
    The Rare Book Collection also contains works of special importance to North Carolina (an early 18th century North Carolina Reports, for example) and to Duke, including several books by Samuel Fox Mordecai in addition to his Law Lectures. Lex Scripta (2d edition, 1905), a "pocket manual for the law students of Trinity College," contains the statutes that law students were expected to know (and on which they were tested). The privately published Mordecai’s Miscellanies (1927) is a collection of letters (to and from Mordecai), poems, and stories that he particularly liked.


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