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Research & Litigation

Dr. Raphael Lemkin, the Totally Unofficial Man

In Custodia Legis - Fri, 05/31/2019 - 10:37am

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish international law jurist who lived and taught law in the United States at the end of his life, is famous for coining the word “genocide”. He also worked to make the act of genocide a crime in international law. As a child in rural Poland, Lemkin was fascinated by historical atrocities and was particularly struck by the story of Nero feeding Christians to the lions in Quo Vadis (Lemkin, Totally Unofficial, p. 1).  The story of the Armenian genocide also captivated Lemkin. In a sad twist of fate, the man who was so interested in the tragedies of other cultural groups experienced the horrible loss of his own family and people in the Holocaust.

After he finished his doctorate of law at Lwow University, he started writing law books, working as Warsaw’s deputy public prosecutor, and teaching law at university. One of the books he wrote during this time he coauthored with Duke University professor Malcolm McDermott— a contact who would later save his life (Lemkin, 21). Lemkin also wrote an influential article that argued for laws outlawing acts of barbarity and vandalism (Lemkin, 23).

Raphael Lemkin, 1900-1959, undated photo [American Jewish Historical Society,]

At the start of World War II, Lemkin fled Poland when the German army invaded. He first fled to Stockholm, where he taught at the university. In Stockholm, he collected all the national official gazettes and Third Reich gazettes he could find to research the aims of Hitler and the Nazis, concluding that their policies of mass murder had the intention to wholly obliterate other peoples (Lemkin, 102). Lemkin’s conclusion from these studies was that “genocide is a premeditated crime with clearly defined goals, rather than just an aberration.

With the help of his colleague Dr. McDermott, Lemkin was able to take a teaching job at Duke University in 1941. He and his brother Elias were the only members of Lemkin’s family to escape; 49 members of his family died in the Holocaust.  During the early 1940s he wrote, traveled, taught, and lectured. Lemkin met John Vance, Law Librarian of Congress and began translating and analyzing Nazi decrees. Lemkin wrote:

I wanted to secure a regular flow of such decrees from occupied Europe and suggested in a letter to Vance that he might get them through book dealers in neutral countries– Portugal, Switzerland, or Sweden. In this way I hoped to build up in the Library of Congress a center of documentation that would be helpful in explaining the “war on the peoples” behind the current European “war on the armies” (Lemkin, 109).

This work was the basis for his later (and arguably most important) book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. In this text he introduced the term “genocide,” which is a combination of the Greek “genos” (race, tribe) and the Latin “-cide” (killing) (Lemkin, Axis, p. 79). The name was important; Churchill had called the acts of the Holocaust “the crime without a name.” Lemkin’s concept of genocide as an international crime, formulated at this time, provided one of the legal bases for the Nuremburg Trials.

However, at the Nuremburg Trials, the charge of genocide was thrown out. The Statute of the International Military Tribunal, which did not include a charge of genocide, bound the Nuremburg Tribunal. This defeat bolstered Lemkin’s resolve and although his health continued to decline, he tirelessly worked to establish genocide as an international crime. Throughout the late 1940s, Lemkin traveled throughout Europe and the States to talk to every diplomat, legal academic, politician and statesman he could about the legal concept of genocide, working to get allies to advocate for the Genocide Convention.

On December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Raphael Lemkin spent the rest of his life working to get nations to pass laws against genocide, teaching, and writing articles as well as his autobiography, though he died before he could complete it. The tentative title was “Totally Unofficial” from a 1957 New York Times editorial describing him as, “…that exceedingly patient and totally unofficial man, Prof. Raphael Lemkin” (Lemkin, xxv). His patience and single-minded pursuit of his goal was best explained in a speech he gave in Durham:

“If women, children, and old people would be murdered a hundred miles from here, wouldn’t you run to help? Then why do you stop this decision of your heart when the distance is five thousand miles instead of a hundred?” (Lemkin, 103).


Following is a list of resources available in the Law Library; a few of these are found in the Library’s general collection.


Categories: Research & Litigation

On This Day: Everglades National Park Established

In Custodia Legis - Thu, 05/30/2019 - 1:15pm

Eighty-five years ago today, May 30, 1934, Congress established Everglades National Park.

Image of Statutes at Large pages establishing Everglades National Park, Congress 73, Session 2, Chapter 371, available at

The park is one of the most unique national parks in the country. It is 1.5 million acres of what is commonly referred to as “swampland,” but actually contains at least eight different ecosystems, including freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, hardwood hammocks, pinelands, cypress, mangrove, coastal lowlands, and estuarine. These ecosystems and habitats support a collection of species not found elsewhere in the world.

Everglades National Park is designated as an International Biosephere Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance, a World Heritage Site, and is an area protected under the Cartagena Protocol. It has been affected greatly by population growth in South Florida and serves as a place of study and warning for issues such as climate change, threatened and endangered species, drainage and disturbed lands, and invasive and nonnative species of plants and animals.

Photo by National Park Service. The CFR regulation is available at .

The iconic king of the Everglades is, of course, the alligator, but many other plants and animals abound. A variety of snakes, mammals (including the severely endangered Florida panther), amphibians, reptiles, fish, and insects can be found year-round. Birding is also quite popular, especially during the winter months. My favorite iconic Florida birds are the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, and osprey. Interestingly, despite being associated with Florida and tourism, flamingos were considered nonnative and invasive for a long time. However, a recent study has questioned that designation and they may be native to Florida after all.

Interested in learning more about the establishment of national parks? The Law Library of Congress now has all public laws available by chapter from 1789-1950. You can browse by congress or use the search and facets function to narrow your desired law by subject. This search will allow you to see the 113 statutes tagged with “national parks.” We are still working towards completing this historical collection and adding more functionality in the future!

Categories: Research & Litigation

An Interview with Rose Tempowski, Scholar-in-Residence at the Law Library of Congress

In Custodia Legis - Wed, 05/29/2019 - 10:53am

Law Library Scholar-in-Residence Rose Tempowski. Photo by Kelly McKenna.

Describe your background.

I’m from a small village in Derbyshire, a county in the East Midlands of England, and don’t live far from the house I grew up in. My parents are both from Birmingham, but moved to Derbyshire just before they had me. I lived in the northern city of Sheffield as an undergraduate, and in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2017. Other than that, I have not moved around much.  I’m lucky to live somewhere so well connected by main roads, but also with such easy access to the countryside.

 What is your academic/professional history?

I studied law for an undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield, but upon graduation I pursued a career in teaching. I knew that I would return to the law at some point, so I decided to get admitted to the bar in New York whilst studying at the University of Derby for my Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Education with a specialization in science.  I taught in a variety of schools, including the school I attended myself as a child and a small village school in the Peaks which had years 2, 3 and 4 in the same classroom. In 2016, I reduced my teaching to part-time and enrolled at Nottingham Trent University to pursue an LLM in Human Rights and Justice.

Nottingham Law School has a very active pro bono community and I became heavily involved in this. I represented clients at social security tribunals, advised on housing and employment issues, investigated a case as part of the Miscarriages of Justice Project and ran classes at local high schools on the legal ramifications of cyberbullying and sexting. Through this community at NLS, I interacted with the Amicus charity, which sends volunteers to assist capital defense lawyers across the US. It was thanks to Amicus that I spent the majority of 2017 gaining valuable experience at a capital defense office in Arizona.

I am now at Birmingham City University where I am in the second year of my doctorate studies and also teach criminal law.

How would you describe your job (or research project) to other people?

There is now an established body of science which acknowledges that human brains continue to develop and restructure throughout adolescence and into the third decade of life. The region responsible for decision-making develops last and is the area which differs the most with age. Therefore, questions can be asked about what this means for the criminal culpability of young people. My research aims to discover whether this brain science is playing any role in US state legislation which is regulating young people’s contact with the adult criminal justice system. Specifically, my research investigates two areas of law: bright-line age limits for juvenile court jurisdiction and state transfer or waiver laws which permit a juvenile to be tried in an adult court.

 Why did you want to work at the Law Library?

My Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Sarah Cooper, and my colleague, Amelia Shooter, had both previously studied at the Law Library and spoken incredibly highly of their experiences. They impressed upon me how generous the librarians and staff at the Library are and how spending time here would make me a better researcher. Not only does the Library have an unprecedented catalog, but it is a unique legal environment with experts from around the globe. In addition to this, as an almost life-long student, I was really looking forward to studying in such a scholarly environment amongst like-minded individuals.

What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?

How available it is to the public! I’m really impressed by the accessibility of the Library. I love how any member of the public can phone up and speak to a law librarian and receive a detailed response to their inquiry.

What’s something most of your colleagues do not know about you?

Most people don’t realise that I rely pretty heavily on lip reading because I’m hearing impaired. This can make group settings, like networking events, really challenging and I think people are surprised that I seem so reserved in these environments when I’m usually so chatty. I also have a qualification in British Sign Language, but I don’t use it in day-to-day life.

Categories: Research & Litigation New, Tip and Top for May 2019, Part 2

In Custodia Legis - Tue, 05/28/2019 - 1:03pm

Earlier this month, Andrew shared the update to our committee schedule page, which launched in January 2019.

With this month’s second release, we have enhanced the navigation of member profile pages.  When viewing a bill or resolution on a member profile page, you can use the navigation arrows to move from the next or previous item in the list without having to return to the profile page.

Previous and next navigation buttons added to Member Profile pages

New Enhancements for May 2019, Part 2

Please find the full list of enhancements below.

Enhancement – Member Profile Pages – Results Navigation

  • When viewing a bill or other item listed on a member profile page, you can use the navigation arrows to move to the next or previous item in the list without needing to return to the profile page.

Enhancement – Committee Reports – Errata Display

  • Committee Report errata text displays as a tab on the committee report detail page.

Search Tip

The Search Tip for this release is a reminder of how to edit highlighting in Search Results:

How to Remove Highlighting from a Search Result

When viewing search results on, highlighted search terms can be very helpful in understanding why a particular item was retrieved.  But what if you need a clean copy without the  highlighting?  Simply edit the URL to remove the search portion and the highlighting will be gone. Look for ?q and delete it along with all characters that follow.

Most-Viewed Bills

Below are the most-viewed bills on for the week of May 18, 2019.

1. H.R.5 [116th] Equality Act 2. H.R.1044 [116th] Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 3. H.R.2527 [116th] Vaccinate All Children Act of 2019 4. S.386 [116th] Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 5. H.Res.109 [116th] Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal. 6. H.R.987 [116th] MORE Health Education Act 7. H.R.5428 [115th] Stand with UK against Russia Violations Act 8. H.R.299 [116th] Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 9. H.R.1 [116th] For the People Act of 2019 10. S.447 [115th] Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017

Please share any comments below or submit your feedback on

Categories: Research & Litigation


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