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Legal biography, oral history and the Cambridge Eminent Scholars Archive

Citation: Dingle, Lesley (2014) Legal biography, oral history and the Cambridge Eminent Scholars Archive. Legal Information Management . ISSN 1472-6696 (In Press)


Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

ESA is a digital archive based on interviews with prominent personalities associated with the Law Faculty of Cambridge University. It constitutes a unique repository of audio, textural and photographic materials, providing insights into the careers of scholars, jurists and practitioners. Motivations for the establishment of the archive in 2005 were: recording reminiscences of scholars back to WWII and its immediate aftermath; documenting developments in administration and teaching in the Faculty and colleges; archiving voices of scholars taking about their early lives, careers and published works; compiling a cross-indexed reference of personalities mentioned in interviews; and generating an awareness amongst students and younger staff of the rich heritage of the Faculty. The methodology and strategy of conducting interviews and compiling entries is briefly described. Finally, in the broader context of legal biography, it is argued that such oral histories are an essential component because they capture aspects of personality that written accounts cannot and thereby reveal traits that conventional biographies may miss. This claim is illustrated by selected examples from the archive,that currently contains twenty interviewees.

Additional Information: This is a pre-print of an article which will be published in a special issue of Legal Information Management in 2014. It has been developed by the author (Lesley Dingle, Foreign and International Law Librarian, Squire Law Library, Cambridge) from a paper she gave at “Legal Biography: a national socio-legal training day” at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies on Wednesday 15 May 2013. The workshop was jointly organised by the British Library, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Socio-Legal Studies Association.
Creators: Dingle, Lesley and
Related URLs:
Subjects: Law
Keywords: Cambridge Eminent Scholars Archive, law and humanities, lawyers, legal biography, legal profession, legal scholarship
Divisions: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
Collections: Legal Biography
  • March 2014 (published)


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