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Law Library News

Law Library News Archive

Feb. 14, 2005.
Kristy Moon, editor.


Valentine's Day

Have you ever wondered how we came to celebrate February 14th as a day to express affection to loved ones with greetings and gifts? The history of Valentine's Day – and its patron saint – is somewhat of a mystery. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

According to legend, Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome during the third century. He was put to death by Emperor Claudius II for trying to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often tortured, or for marrying young lovers in defiance of Claudius II’s decree which forbade marriage for young men who would be soldiers. As the story goes, Valentine, while in prison, fell in love with the jailor's daughter whom he befriended. Before his death, he wrote her a letter and signed it “from your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

The holiday also has its origins in the Roman festival of Lupercalia which was held in mid-February. The festival celebrated the coming of spring and included fertility rites and the pairing off of women and men by lottery. At the end of the fifth century, Pope Gelasius I replaced Lupercalia with St. Valentines’ Day and the day eventually came to be celebrated as a day of romance from about the fourteenth century.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we highlight two books about romantic relationships and invite you to test your knowledge and research skills with a trivia contest.

Books of the Week

--Ann Hemmens

Living Together Kit: A Legal Guide for Unmarried Couples, 12th edition, by Toni Ihara et al. (Nolo Press, 2003) (KF538.I35 2003 at Reference Area).

A Legal Guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples, 12th edition, by Hayden Curry et al. (Nolo Press, 2004) (KF538 .C87 2004 at Reference Area).

These books are authored by attorneys and published by Nolo Press, which has been publishing self-help law books for many years. Although these books are designed for non-legally trained individuals, they can still be very helpful for law students. Maybe you have a question about something in your personal life and you would rather read a straightforward concise treatment of the topic instead of a voluminous treatise.

In these books you will find information on topics such as:

  • Do you need a durable power of attorney for finances for your partner?
  • How should you take title to your new home if you are unmarried?
  • Can your same-sex partner adopt the child that you are adopting through an agency (is second-parent adoption available)?
  • How do you prepare a settlement agreement when the couple separates? Will the court recognize your property interests if you are not married?

Sample legal forms are included in the books (or on CD-ROM). Specific cases and statutes are cited, but readers are reminded of the importance of consulting an attorney for legal advice.

For other book reviews, visit the Book of the Week archive.

Trivia Contest

-- Mary Whisner

This week’s Trivia Contest honors Valentine’s Day. Turn in your answers (with your email address) to the Reference Office by Thursday at 5:00 and you could win a prize.

  1. She was the named plaintiff (among fourteen plaintiffs) in the case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled the state’s denial of marriage to same-sex couples unconstitutional.
  2. She’s played a law student and a paralegal. In one movie with Richard Gere, her romance began in a criminal relationship; in another, she had trouble getting to the legal formalization of marriage (but eventually did).
  3. In 1958 she married Richard Loving in Washington, D.C. After they settled in Virginia they were convicted of violating that state’s antimiscegenation statute. Their convictions were reversed by the Supreme Court in 1967.
  4. She played a lawyer in one movie and visited a convict in another movie. She is in a long-term opposite-sex relationship but is not married to her life partner, who played a prisoner who made a redemptive prison break.
  5. She played an assistant D.A. on “Law and Order” and is married to Richard Gere.
  6. She married her college boyfriend in 1954. They both attended Harvard Law School, but she finished her degree at Columbia. Now he’s a professor at Georgetown University Law Center specializing in tax. She has a good job in Washington, too.
  1. Julia Roberts
  2. Hillary Goodridge
  3. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  4. Mildred Jeter
  5. Carey Lowell
  6. Susan Sarandon