Bar Association Honors 800th Anniversary of Magna Carta

Starting with its annual meeting this weekend, the legal-professionals organization kicks off a series of events and initiatives planned for the landmark legal document, including a meeting in London next spring.

Although it’s one of the cornerstones of modern American law, the Magna Carta doesn’t make its way to these shores very often.

But with the document’s 800th anniversary coming up next year, the American Bar Association plans to put the Magna Carta in the public spotlight through a traveling exhibit. The first stop is at ABA’s annual meeting, taking place August 8-10 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center.

“Magna Carta: Enduring Legacy 1215-2015” includes images of the Magna Carta—the 13th-century English document that first reined in royal power and set the stage for the emergence of constitutional government—as well as other precious manuscripts and rare documents. The exhibit, which helps launch nearly a year of ABA commemorative events, will appear at libraries, law schools, and universities nationwide.

Other activities the association has planned in honor of the document’s 800th anniversary:

ABA will hold a meeting in London from June 11 to 14, 2015, that’s expected to feature legal education programs and sessions focused on the Magna Carta, as well as excursions to Runnymede, where the document was first sealed by King John. The group expects 600 to 800 attendees.

The association is raising funds to help renovate its Runnymede memorial to the document, constructed in 1957. The traditional Greek-style structure was originally funded by ABA members.

A coffee-table book titled Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015, recently published by Third Millennium Publishing, is for sale on the ABA website. An ABA-published book, Magna Carta and the Rule of Law, is also available.

And if you’re hoping to see the real thing, one of the four original documents is now on tour in the United States as part of the “Magna Carta: Muse and Mentor” exhibition. After a stint at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts ending September 1, the document will head to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where it will stay from September 6 to November 2. Finally, the U.S. Library of Congress will display the Magna Carta from November 6 to January 19, 2015.

The ABA's Magna Carta Memorial, located in Runnymede, England, could get a renovation soon. (iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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