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 Posted: Wed Apr 2nd, 2008 06:28 pm
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booklover
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David,

Our discussion has brought up a queston for me that I hope you might take time to answer.

In the 1920s, James G. Randall wrote a book called "Constitutional Problems Under Lincoln". He later revised it in 1951 a couple of years before he died. As Randall and his wife, Ruth, had no children, they had no direct heirs to leave their literary estate. Instead, David Herbert Donald, who was one of Randall's graduate students, became his literary executor.

My question is this...if I want to bring out a new edition of CPUL, I realize I would have to get Donald's permisson. However, what happens once Donald passes away? Does he have the legal right to assign a new literary executor or does that duty pass away with him? My understanding (very sketchy) of literary executors is that they are conservators of the work, not the owners of the content. If I want to write a biography of Randall (which someday I do), currently I have to have Donald's permission to look at Randall's papers which are deposited at the University of Illinois. Will that change once Donald passes away?

I would appreciate any insight you might have, and also if you could direct me to any books on the subject, I would appreciate it.

Best
Rob

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