Fonds MG4195 - Percy Ellwood Corbett Fonds

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Percy Ellwood Corbett Fonds

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  • Textual record
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  • 1916-1989 (Creation)
    Corbett, Percy Ellwood, 1892-1983

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0.7 m of textual records ; photographs

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Biographical history

Percy Ellwood Corbett was born in Tyne Valley, Prince Edward Island, in 1892. He attended the Huntingdon Academy near Montreal and afterwards went to McGill University, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1913 and an M.A. in 1915. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, but postponed it to go to France as a lieutenant in the Black Watch. He was severely wounded and awarded the Military Cross in 1918. After the War he went to Oxford, obtained a B.A. in Jurisprudence in 1920, an additional M.A. in 1925, and was named a Fellow of All Souls’ College, Oxford, from 1920 until 1927. From 1922 to 1924 Percy Corbett worked in Geneva as Assistant Legal Advisor to the International Labour Office of the League of Nations. Afterwards, in 1924, he returned to McGill as the Gale Professor of Roman Law, and remained there for over twenty years, teaching mainly Roman and International Law. From 1928 to 1936 Percy Corbett became Dean of the Faculty of Law. In 1938 he was granted an honorary LL.D. from Melbourne University. In 1943 he went to Yale University, where he held the post of Professor of Government and Jurisprudence, and was also a Chairman of the Department of Political Science until 1951. He became an American citizen in 1947. During the rest of his career he worked at several other universities, including Princeton (Research Associate with rank of Professor at the Centre of International Studies, 1951-1958), Virginia (Professor of Foreign Affairs, 1960-1963) and Lehigh (adjunct Professor of International Relations, 1964-). He also worked as a Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics in 1949, Indian School of International Studies at the University of Delhi in 1958 and 1959, and at the University of Istanbul in 1960. He was awarded an honorary D.C.L. by McGill University in 1961 and Lehigh University in 1973. Dr. Corbett was a frequent contributor to learned journals in the United States, Canada and England. Among his major publications are Canada and World Politics (with H. A. Smith, 1928), Roman Law of Marriage (1930), The Settlement of Canadian-American Disputes (1937), Law in Diplomacy (1951), Law and Society in the Relations of the States. Percy Corbett died in 1983.

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Scope and content

Percy Corbett’s fonds reflects his expertise in Roman and international law. The fonds mostly consists of lecture notes written by him for his courses on Roman and international law. Also part of the collection are two bound notebooks on constitutional history, political theory and international law from his student days in Oxford (1919-1924), a few manuscript and typescript essays on Roman law, notes on Canadian-American relations (1942), and notes on international law (1949). Included is a diary (1916), correspondence (including correspondence to the Wilder Penfield and his wife Helen Katherine Kermott Penfield (1944-1959 ), reference letters (1922-1983), articles and newspaper clippings (1920-1989). Cuurriculum vitae and hand-written record about Corbett’s life, wills, addresses, draft of biography of Percy Corbett written by his son David, reviews of P. E. Corbett’s work, and book reviews of Percy Corbett are part of the fonds. Included is also material for 1946 Conference - Moscow Report, common place book (1930’s-1940’s), tributes to Percy Corbett, typed and hand-written Statement and Memorandum on the American-Canadian relations (1958), typescript Impressions-Mostly Oxonian by Percy Corbett and article Oxford-Impressions. Non textual records include photographs.

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Transferred from McGill’s Law Library (Michael Penshawe) on March 10, 1987 (accession no.1987-0016); on June 1, 1987; on December 15, 1987 (accession no. 1987-0123) and donated by David Corbett on November 27, 1995 (accession no. 1995-0103).


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Handwritten and typescript

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1987-0016; 1987-0041; 1987-0123; 1995-0103

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