Columbia Library columns (v.7(1957Nov-1958May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.7,no.3(1958:May): Page 14  

The Salzer Collection of
Mayor's Court Papers


I'' PRIME importance to students of American legal and
social history is the recent acquisition by Special Collec¬
tions of the papers of the old Mayor's Court of New
York City and of other state courts. Acquired as a gift from the
estate of the late Dr. Benjamin Salzer, a neurologist of New York
City, and through the good offices of the attorney of that estate,
Mr. Donald Newborg, this collection comprises some two-thou¬
sand items ranging in date from 1681 to 1819.

This collection, not available to students and researchers hith¬
erto, is, first of all, of special interest to lawyers. The papers sup¬
plement the minutes of the Mayor's Court on file in the office of
the Commissioner of Records of New York County, which were
selected and printed in part in Select Cases of the Mayor's Court
of New York City, 16-14-1184, published by the American His¬
torical Association in 1935 and edited by the present writer. That
volume demonstrated the relationship, first, between the .Mayor's
Court as it was organized following the English conquest of New
Netherland and the previous Dutch court of Burgomasters and
Schepens of New Amsterdam. The former continued the juris¬
diction of the Dutch court and then, when English influences
became paramount, adapted much from the practice and proce¬
dure of the Mayor's Court of London. While for a time the
Mayor's Court exercised some criminal jurisdiction, it soon be¬
came largely a court of civil matters and as such the chief tribunal
in New York City for handling business litigation.

The abundance of these file papers reveals how active the
Mayor's Court really was. Yet only a limited number of attorneys
are represented in the litigation covered by the papers. The rea-
  v.7,no.3(1958:May): Page 14