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The Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition 2015/2016

The Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition 2015/2016

The Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries announce the eighth annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The Competition is named in honor of the late Morris L. Cohen of Yale Law School, one of the founders of LH&RB and an eminent scholar of legal research, rare books, and historical bibliography.

The purpose of the Competition is to encourage scholarship in the areas of legal history, rare law books, and legal archives, and to acquaint students with AALL and law librarianship. The Competition is jointly sponsored by LH&RB and Gale, part of Cengage Learning, a world leader in e-research and educational publishing for libraries, schools and business.

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) promotes the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, fosters the profession of law librarianship, and provides leadership in the field of legal information. The Legal History and Rare Books Special Interest Section (LH&RB) promotes the study and appreciation of legal history and rare books among members of the law library profession.


Essays may address any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives; criteria on which papers will be judged include originality of topic or approach, quality and depth of research and analysis, clarity of presentation and contribution to the field. The subject should be explored in depth with appropriate reference to sources.


The Legal History and Rare Books Section (LHRB) of the American Association of Law Libraries, in cooperation with Gale Cengage Learning


The author of the first-place essay will receive a $500 prize from Gale Cengage Learning, and a joint LH&RB-Gale Cengage award of up to $1000 for travel, lodging, food and other AALL annual meeting attendance expenses.

The author of the winning and runner-up essays will have the opportunity to publish the essay in LH&RB’s online annual scholarly journal Unbound: An Annual Review of Legal History and Rare Books.


April 18, 2016 (EST) by 11:59 p.m


  • Full and part-time students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, or related fields are eligible to enter the competition. Membership in AALL is not required.
  • The competition is open to students attending graduate school either in the United States or abroad, and students need not be U.S. citizens to enter.  Students attending foreign graduate schools who submit entries to the competition may be asked to provide evidence of current accreditation of their schools by the appropriate government or administrative entities.
  • Entrants must provide evidence of current enrollment by submitting one of the following: official or unofficial transcript, registrar’s written confirmation of enrollment, or faculty member letter on school letterhead confirming enrollment.
  • Previous winners of the competition are ineligible. Previous contestants may submit papers in succeeding years if they continue to meet eligibility requirements.
  • Members of the Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition Committee and current officers of LH&RB are ineligible to enter the competition.  Other members of AALL are eligible if they meet the qualifications above.  Essays should be at least ten and not more than 30 pages, approximately 10,000 words maximum. As a guideline, the Committee anticipates essays of approximately 20 to 30 double-spaced pages including footnotes (preferred) or endnotes.
  • Authors should follow a consistent format appropriate for a research paper such as that set forth in The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed., 2010).  Footnotes should follow The Chicago Manual of Style, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (20th ed. 2015), or the AALL Universal Citation Guide (1999).
  • The essay must include an abstract not to exceed 250 words, placed either at the head of the essay or on a separate sheet, and must include a bibliography of works consulted at the end.
  • No essay or portion of an essay that has been published, or submitted or accepted for publication before April 18, 2016 (EST) will be eligible for consideration.  Before submitting an essay, authors are responsible for having conducted a search to ensure that a substantially similar paper has not been published elsewhere.
  • One essay may be entered per student. Essays may be co-authored if each author meets the eligibility requirements.
  • The entry package consists of:
  1. 2015/2016 entry form
  2. Evidence of current enrollment
  3. Abstract of essay
  4. Essay
  5. Bibliography of Works Consulted
  • Please note: Before submitting your entry package, please ascertain that your name does not appear on any page of your essay or abstract or in the document’s file name.
  • Submit the entry package electronically to:
  • LH&RB and AALL do not assume responsibility for incomplete, lost, stolen, late, misdirected or misplaced entries.
  • You will receive confirmation that your submission has been received. If you do not receive a confirmation within 7 days, please contact Fred Dingledy at
  • Download the entry form here


Please direct Questions to Fred Dingledy at; or to Tim Kearley at


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