Yale Law School Librarian Bookslaps Harvard Law Review Over Complicated Bluebook

December 2nd, 2013

Harvard may have beat Yale in The Game, but in this letter to the editor of the New York Times, point goes to New Haven.

Who Wrote the Bluebook?

To the Editor:

“The Bluebook” is the iconic citation manual that dominates legal writing. Kenji Yoshino reviews Richard A. Posner’s book “Reflections on Judging” (Nov. 10), which notes that the Bluebook was created by the future judge Henry Friendly or the future Harvard dean Erwin Griswold when they were students at Harvard Law School in 1926.

The Yale Law Library, however, has in its rare-book collection a pamphlet titled “Abbreviations and Form of Citation,” issued by The Yale Law Journal in 1921; our copy appears to be the only one in existence. A comparison of the 1921 Yale pamphlet with the 1926 first edition of the Bluebook shows that the Bluebook took most of its content, often word for word, from Yale’s product. Some may say that originating the ­hypercomplicated Bluebook should not be a source of pride, but The Yale Law Journal ur-Bluebook consisted of only 15 tiny pages. The version that has developed under the leadership of the Harvard Law Review currently consists of over 500 large pages, and users may need software such as the pioneering CorrectCite to help them navigate its mysteries.


The writer is an associate librarian and a lecturer in legal research at Yale Law School.

H/T Law School Reports