Filming “Wild Bill” Donovan’s Nuremberg LegacyFor several hours one recent afternoon, Cornell Law Library’s Dawson Rare Book Room was transformed into a mini-film studio, complete with bright lights, microphones, and a teleprompter.  It was the culmination of nearly six months of work by a group of Law Library staff and Cornell’s CyberTower video production team to produce a video featuring our collection of “Wild Bill” Donovan’s Nuremberg papers.

The Law Library acquired the Nuremberg papers of General William Donovan in 1998 through the generous donation of alumni Henry Korn and Ellen Schaum Korn.  Donovan’s role as director of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA) and special assistant to the chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, Justice Robert H. Jackson, gave him a rare insider’s perspective on the Nazi war crimes trials.  With the financial assistance of the Nathaniel Lapkin Foundation, the Library has been able to index and digitize some of the unique and historically significant portions of the collection and make them freely available online.

When the Library was approached about the possibility of creating a short video to promote one of our special collections, we decided we wanted to highlight the Donovan papers for a number of reasons, one of which is the collection’s continuing relevance decades after the Nuremberg trials took place.  The impact of the Donovan collection has extended in completely unexpected ways beyond its importance as an historical artifact.

The Law Library team used research that had already been conducted on the collection as a basis for the video script, particularly the work of Professor Michael Salter of Lancashire Law School.  We also drew upon the experience of Rochester attorney Donald Rehkopf, who used the collection while preparing an amicus curiae brief in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

To add visual interest to the video, we searched the Internet for vintage newsreel footage and photographs that would complement the script.  We also pored through the Donovan papers themselves to identify documents of particular interest to highlight.  We even listened to CD tracks of somber music that would underscore the solemn theme of the story we wanted to tell.

On the day of the video shoot, the CyberTower production team arrived at the Law Library and set up their equipment in the Rare Book Room. Our principal narrator had a touch of laryngitis that day, so two other law librarians were recruited on the spot to read parts of the script.

As is the case with most movies, a portion of the footage we recorded ended up on the (digital) cutting room floor.  Some of the edited material was restored in the final version, and we are quite pleased with the result.  We extend our thanks to the CyberTower production team for their professional expertise in helping us bring our vision to reality.  You can view “’Wild Bill’ Donovan’s Nuremberg Legacy” at

Elena KaganOn May 10, 2010, President Obama nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.  Kagan is President Obama’s second nomination to the Court and, if confirmed, Kagan will be the fourth woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.  To learn more about Solicitor General Kagan and the Supreme Court nomination process, there are some high-quality resources on the web that one should access.  Both the Library of Congress (LOC)  and the Georgetown Law Library  have extensive guides.  Both sites provide access to Kagan’s writing, including her law review articles, congressional documents, and briefs and transcripts of her arguments before the Supreme Court.  The Georgetown site includes e-mails, press releases, and other writings from Kagan’s tenure as Dean of Harvard Law School.  Also available are documents prepared in Ms. Kagan’s capacity as Associate White House Counsel to President Clinton.  Of particular interest is the questionnaire—with responses—submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which the Committee uses to begin gathering information about the nominee.

You can also access materials about the nomination process.  The Georgetown guide links to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports on the roles and actions of the President, Judiciary Committee, and the Senate during the nomination process.  Nomination hearings transcripts back to 1971 are available, as well as this intriguing CRS Report  on nominations that the Senate did not confirm.  Be sure to check out the LOC guide for links to videos and blogs covering the Kagan nomination.

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