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The Banks-Baldwin Photograph Collection

The Judge Ben C. Green Law Library Special Collection #6

History of Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Company

From 1804 as Gould & Banks in New York until it closed its Independence office as Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Company in 2010, Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Company was the oldest running law publisher in the United States.

On Dec. 31, 2010, Thomson Reuters closed its Independence, Ohio office, ending the physical presence of legal publishing in Cleveland dating back to 1919, with roots back to 1804 in New York as one of, if not the, oldest continuously operating legal publishers in the United States. The Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Company operated in Cleveland from 1933-1993, until West Publishing bought it as a subsidiary to market its print and online services in Kentucky and Ohio.

As of 2015, "Baldwin's Ohio" remains part of forty titles (including 17 Ohio law handbooks and numerous treatises) available for legal practitioners, appropriately, in print, e-book, and online formats. Banks-Baldwin and its earlier corporate incarnations introduced a myriad of innovations in legal publishing, such as the first edition of the Ohio Code, the Ohio Revised Code Annotated, a monthly session laws service; an approved edition of the Ohio Administrative Code (in 1977); and access to Ohio unreported cases on microfiche in the 1980s. The company also invested in technology - using internal computer databases in the early 1970s, licensing its publications to online services, and developing CD-ROM products as of 1988.

The Baldwin Law Book Company was established in Louisville, KY, in 1913. Thereupon, William E. Baldwin established the Baldwin Law Company in Cleveland in 1919. The company's signature product was The General Code of the State of Ohio, revised to 1921, edited by Western Reserve Law Professor Archibald H. Throckmorton, with colleagues Walter T. Dunmore and Alvin C. Brightman. From such humble beginnings, Baldwin would eventually hold copyright to 500 books he authored or edited.

In 1924, Baldwin was hired as the president of the Banks Company in New York; he continued to run his Ohio company. The Banks Company traced its publishing lineage back to the firm of Gould and Banks, established by David Banks in 1804 in order to publish law books more inexpensively than selling books imported from England. Banks' s sons operated the company as Banks & Brothers after the founder's death in 1871, ultimately dividing the company in 1880. David Banks, Jr. continued the company as Banks Law Publishing until selling the firm to William Baldwin in 1926.

The original Banks-Baldwin headquarters was at 3730 Euclid Ave. The company moved to 1904 Ansel Avenue in 1941. The firm acquired additional nearby University Circle properties in the 1970s and 1980s, ultimately donating them to the Cleveland Sight Center. The "little yellow house" was relocated to the grounds of the Dunham Tavern Museum. the company's office was in Independence from 1995 through 2010.

Read entry for the Banks-Baldwin Publishing Co. in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Date   Event
1804   David Banks opened Gould & Banks in New York.
1871   David Banks dies, sons change name of Gould & Banks to Banks & Bros
1880   rothers split the company; David Banks Jr. changes his company name to Banks Law Publishing
1880-1926   Note: David Banks Jr. will run Banks Law Publishing until selling firm to Wm. E. Baldwin
1913   Baldwin Law Book Company established in Louisville, Ky
1919   Wm. E. Baldwin established the Baldwin Law Company in Cleveland
1921   Baldwin company signature product, The General Code of the State of Ohio, revised to 1921
1921   Note: General Code edited by Western Reserve Law Prof Archibald H Throckmorton & colleagues
1924   Wm. E. Baldwin became President of Banks Publishing Co. in New York; continues to run Oh co.
1926   Wm E. Baldwin purchased NY based Banks Law Co from David Banks Jr., owner since 1880
1933   Wm. E. Baldwin combined his two companies to form Banks-Baldwin Law Publishing Company
1933-41   Banks Baldwin headquarters established at 3630 Euclid Ave.
1941   Banks Baldwin moves to 1904 Ansel Rd. in Cleveland
1970s-80s   Banks Baldwin acquires more University Circle Cleveland properties
1993   Banks Baldwin bought as a subsidiary of West Publishing
1996   West & its subsidiary Banks Baldwin merged to become part of West Group (Thomson)
Post 1996 merger   Company donated Ansel Rd building & property to Cleve Sight Center
1996-2010   Company's office relocated to Independence, Ohio
1998   1868 "little yellow house", Ansel Rd office, donated & moved to Dunham Tavern Museum
2008   Thomson Reuters formed
2010   Thomson Reuters closed its Independence office