Here you can find a historical overview of Georgetown Law Library, spanning from 1887 to the present. The display includes depictions of our first card catalog (printed in 1888), an 1891 photo of a coffee shop next to the Law Center, and many other images, culled from our Archives.
This Veterans Day, we might reflect upon the progress made possible through the sacrifice of military servicemembers, and the tragedy, triumph, and trials of war. In legal history, the tribunals for war crimes following World War II have had a profound impact on our domestic and international jurisprudence and scholarship, and there are a growing number of online resources to help us research these important materials.
Although no comparably extensive online compilation yet exists for the Tokyo Trials (International Military Tribunal for The Far East), some of the most important and interesting documents are available on iBiblio.org through the HyperWar Foundation (the Tribunal’s judgment) and the Harry S. Truman Library website (official correspondence and photos). For now, full transcripts of the Tokyo Trials are only available in print, here at Georgetown in the Wolff Library.
The Law Library also offers a good selection of relevant print and electronic resources; try an Encore keyword search to see our cataloged holdings on the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials.
An invaluable online resource for researching British legal history just got even better. The Anglo-American Legal Tradition website [AALT] recently added 30 new series of manuscript materials from the UK National Archives [TNA] that extend the coverage of AALT beyond the year of 1650 into the 18th century. Launched in 2007 by the University of Houston's O'Quinn Law Library, the site now contains nearly 5,750,000 images of legal and law-related manuscripts from the early 13th century into the early 18th century. These include court records from the patent, close, fine, plea, Chancery, memoranda, and liberate rolls. The new materials also add the Privy Council miscellaneous papers and foreign accounts that touch upon military, taxation, customs, and other areas of interest to scholars researching legal history. AALT is an open access totally free online resource that is steadily being improved with navigation tools and new materials. Because most legal and governmental records were handwritten not just before the invention of the printing press but for centuries afterward, open access sites like AALT provide an essential window into the legal past.
Georgetown Law Library's Special Collections holds several legal history manuscript collections including the Lord Eldon Collection (Lord Eldon was Chancellor of Great Britain from 1801-1827), the Francis Caleb Brown Collection of bound manuscript English law reports from the 17th century and American Justice of the Peace writs from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the 13th & 14th Century English Land Grants Collection of vellum land transfer documents from the time of Edward I, as well as many other collections of documents and personal papers. If you would like to know more about Georgetown Law's legal history manuscript collections, please visit or contact Special Collections or stop by the Special Collections Exhibit Case outside the Special Collections Reading Room (Williams 210) off the west end of the main reading room in the Williams Library to see selected images from the three collections mentioned above.
Pictured here is a 1790 eviction notice from Special Collections.
Rules governing bankruptcy in the United States have undergone several major changes over the years. One of the earliest Bankruptcy Acts dates back to 1898, with major reform laws passed in 1978 and again in 2004. There was also the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, the Family Farm Bankruptcy Extension Act of 1993, the Bankruptcy Tax Act of 1980, as well as countless amendments and interpretations by courts and scholars. Now there's a new place where you can research bankruptcy with a database from Hein Online that contains more than 145,000 pages of materials.
The source is the History of Bankruptcy (link for Georgetown Law community). This collection is Part III of Hein's Taxation and Economic Reform in America series. It includes legislative history materials for major bankruptcy laws, copies of the first twelve editions of Collier on Bankruptcy (those that appear to be out of copyright), as well as numerous scholarly works explaining bankruptcy laws and cases. This collection will be expanded over time, and it looks to provide a wealth of information to anybody wanting to research details of bankruptcy in the United States.
Georgetown Law community members can learn more about bankruptcy research in our Bankruptcy Law Research Guide. For jurisdictions in our region, it's interesting to see bankruptcy rates follow a common trend since 2001, with a record spike in 2005, followed by a record low at the beginning of 2006. The chart shown here was created using LexisNexis Statistical Datasets, another resource available here at Georgetown.
The Library has subscribed to the new Scottish Legal History module on HeinOnline. This database contains publications about Scottish legal history from the Stair Society. These publications include the first published bibliography of legal history materials for Scotland and reprints of rare and valuable sources on Scottish Law.
March is Women’s History Month. The official celebration of women’s many contributions to United States history started in 1980 when President Carter asked that the first week of March be recognized as National Women’s History Week, 1 Pub. Papers 412 (Feb. 28, 1980), and Women’s History Week was extended to the entire month of March in 1987, see Act of March 12, 1987, Pub. L. No. 100-9, 101 Stat. 99; Proclamation No. 5619, 3 C.F.R. 29 (1988). As President Reagan stated in his proclamation extending the duration of the celebration, “[f]rom the earliest times, women have helped shape our Nation. Historians today stress all that women have meant to our national life, but the rest of us too should remember, with pride and gratitude, the achievements of women throughout American history.”
There is a Women’s History Month display in the Williams Library Reading Room highlighting some of the materials in the collection on women’s history in the United States. Many additional resources are available containing information on women’s history and issues of importance to American women, including databases such as America: History and Life, GenderWatch, and Contemporary Women’s Issues.
The Rise of American Law database is now active in our Westlaw subscription. Rise of American Law includes resources from 1840 to 1970 such as
national and state legal encyclopedias
treatises, casebooks, commentaries, and other practice materials
dictionaries (including the first three editions of Black's)
international materials from Great Britain, Latin American and the Philippines
If you’d like to browse this collection, click on the table of contents link (in the upper right corner) instead of searching to get a list of titles available. The text is searchable and PDF page images are available. A list of all of the titles included in the database is available.
We're working on getting these titles into the catalog, so you’ll soon begin to see them as results in a GULLiver search.
The Selden Society is devoted to the study of English common law and its legal system. Since the 19th century, the Society has published original source materials, many which were previously unpublished, in its Annual Series. These materials include case reports, judges’ notes, treatises, and other legal documents, all published in full, along with translations to modern English.
The database contains all volumes of the Annual Series, from 1887 to 2000. It also contains the Society’s Supplementary Series (from 1965-2000), which includes legal history bibliographies, as well as some original source documents that were not published in the Annual Series.
Along with these official publications of the Society, the database also contains a collection of scholarly articles about English legal history, as well as the English Reports and Statutes of the Realm. We encourage members of the Law Center community to take a look at this valuable new resource.
The Law Library has acquired the newly published Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History. This comprehensive, six-volume reference work covers U.S., international, and foreign legal subjects, tracing their development from ancient to modern periods. Like most subject-specific academic encyclopedias, the articles are written and signed by experts in the field, usually law professors (including several members of the GULC faculty), and they contain extensive cross-references and bibliographies.
The print version of the set is still being processed, but the Library has also purchased an online version which is available now. Please take a look at this valuable new resource.