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Collection of material relating to William Wait copyright legacy


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Born in 1821 in Ephratah, New York, William Wait studied the law and was admitted to the bar in 1846. In 1848, he became district attorney of Fulton County, New York. From 1865 to 1879, he authored or edited a number of legal texts relating to New York law, including The Law and Practice in Civil Actions and Proceedings in Justices' Courts and on Appeals to the County Courts in the State of New York, 1865 (two volumes); The New York Annotated Code of Procedure, 1871; A Table of Cases Affirmed, Revised, or Cited in the Reports of the State of New York, 1872; and Wait's Actions and Defenses at Law and in Equity, 1869-1879 (7 volumes).

It appears that in 1880, Wait was aware of his declining health and added a codicil to his last will and testament allowing for the continuation of the publication and sale of his law books, for which he had copyright, until his youngest son, Isaac, turned 21, in 1889. In 1889, his children, Mary Ball, William Jr. (1863-1941), Isaac P.V. (1868-1941), and Hattie Esther Van Allen were listed as the owners to all the rights and interests of Wait's works.

Works consulted

Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889, Volume IV, page 317.

New York Wills and Probate records for Fulton County, Wills, Volume 0006-0007, 1865-1884, pages 460-461.

This collection documents, in a limited way, the sale and publication of William Wait's copyrighted work, following his death in 1880. It appears that the Wait Publishing Company was established after Wait's children came of age so that they had the ability to continue publishing and selling their father's works. In addition to the Wait Publishing Company continuing to publish and sell, Wait's works were sold by Baker, Voorhis & Co. It is possible that Wait heirs were in contact with the American Law Institute Publishers and the Georgia Law Book, Co.; but it is unclear from their advertising ephemera if they sold Wait's works.

Between 1889 and 1901, there was a flurry of correspondence surrounding a change in the selling and publishing of Wait's works as a result of the youngest Wait child (Isaac) turning 21. Correspondents include Banks & Brother and Banks & Company; Law Offices of Edwin Baylies; William H. Rainey, cashier for National Union Bank; Isaac and William Wait; and William Gould & Son Law Book Publishers. Copyright certificates from the Library of Congress show the transferal of copyright from Wait (pre-1880) to his executors (1882), to his sons (1906). Royalty statements from 1894 to 1902 are present.

Sold by Peter L. Masi - Books, 2023

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel
Finding Aid Date
2023 October 20
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Advertisements for Restatements of the Law of Contracts & Agency, published by American Law Institute Publishers, after 1933.
Box 1 Folder 1
Advertisements for law books published by Baker, Voorhees, & Co., 1914, undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Advertisements for law books published by Georgia Law Books, & Co., 1896, undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Advertisements for law books published by Wait Publishing Company, 1894, 1914, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4
Correspondence regarding ceasing publication or sale of Wait's works, 1889-1901.
Box 1 Folder 5
Insurance statements for William Wait from Johnstown Insurance Agency, 1880 August 6.
Box 1 Folder 6
Library of Congress copyright certificates for Wait's works, 1877-1906.
Box 1 Folder 7
Royalty statements for Wait's publications, 1894-1902.
Box 1 Folder 8

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