What is a Hornbook?

hornbook2.jpg A hornbook is a informative text that serves as primer for study. The hornbook originated in England in 1450, and has been favored in various areas of study over the years. Originally, it referred to a leaf or single-page of text containing basic study materials for children; it was covered with a sheet of transparent horn and then attached to a small wooden frame with a handle. In recent legal studies, a hornbook has become a common term used to describe a one-volume treatise written primarily for law students on subjects typically covered by law school courses. Unlike casebooks, which are collections of cases (or parts of cases) chosen to help illustrate and stimulate discussion about legal issues, hornbooks attempt to summarize and explain the law in a specific area. One popular set of hornbooks is “West’s Hornbook Series.” Hornbooks can be a great place to find a clear explanation of a point of law. The library has hornbooks on most subjects at the circulation desk. The library’s most popular hornbooks are listed on our study guides webpage.