Join us on Wednesday, February 7th at 10:45 am for…

A tour of the Supreme Court Library!


Originally, the Supreme Court had no library; the Justices used their own personal libraries or borrowed books as they rode their circuit.  In 1812, the Justices were allowed by federal statute to use the Library of Congress.  In 1832, the Law Library of Congress was created for the use of the Court and Congress.  In the 1930’s, it was decided that the Court would have its own library collection in its new building.  The building’s architect, Cass Gilbert, designed both a reading room and a special library, with the latter intended to house the Gerry gift collection.  (In fact, this collection was placed not in the special library but in the Justices’ private library instead.) This gift of 23,000 volumes by Senator Peter F. Gerry contained the law library of his father Elbridge T. Gerry, a New York lawyer and philanthropist.  It became the core collection that is now housed in the rare book room and that we will see on this visit.

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 at 10:45 AM. 

Supreme Court
Visitors should enter the building on First Street (under the front steps) and will be subject to security screening.  Then walk straight down the hallway to the Thurgood Marshall statue where we will gather at 10:45 to meet Joann Maguire-Chavez, who will lead everyone up to the library. 

Directions:The Supreme Court of the United States is located on First Street NE between East Capitol Street and Maryland Avenue, adjacent to the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress. View Capitol Hill area map.

The closest Metro stops are:
Capitol South (Orange, Blue and Silver Lines, 0.3 miles)
Union Station (Red Line, 0.5 miles).

The tour will be led by Joann Maguire-Chavez, Special Collections and Records and Briefs Librarian.  With a Masters in Library Science from the University of Maryland, she has been at the Supreme Court since 1999 in various roles and has been working with the rare books since 2004.
After the tour, we will adjourn to the Supreme Court cafeteria for a Dutch-treat lunch to continue the conversation. Directions to the cafeteria will be given after the tour.

The current exhibit includes Elbridge Gerry’s 16 scrapbooks from the Mutual Life investigation, a landmark Supreme Court case that created one of the most important rules of evidence: an exception to the hearsay rule for statements regarding the intentions of the declarant. Gerry was a member of the Board of Mutual Life until he resigned in March of 1906.

This tour is limited to 20 attendees.  To reserve a spot, please e-mail William E. Baxter at
We look forward to seeing you there! We are excited about the upcoming year of events.

William E. Baxter,
President, Washington Rare Book Group

Is it time to renew your membership dues for 2018?

We hope you will renew (or join): The membership year runs from January through December, and dues are $30 — student dues are offered for $15. We look forward to an engaging season and hope you will renew your membership! Please remember to include any collecting interests that you may have. If you know anybody who would be interested in joining our group, please pass this along!

Below is a link to the membership form, to be mailed with your dues check to:
Jackie Coleburn, Treasurer
Washington Rare Book Group
PO Box 1387
Washington, DC 20013

Please note any collecting interests!

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