Digital libraries

On this page you will find a collection of links to digital libraries with a special interest for legal history. Ordering them by country is a random affair, in particular when modern borders do not fit with historical frontiers. The links collections on the pages for the different law systems mention relevant digital libraries. On the page for common law you will find information for Great-Britain. The Netherlands and Belgium are treated on the page for Old Dutch Law. Materials concerning legal history are of course present elsewhere, too. Currently this page contains information about some seventy countries. Additions and corrections are not only welcome, but really necessary.

The section Other libraries is a first small effort to guide you to collections for legal history for a number of topics and countries in more general digital libraries. Websites for constitutions and international projects are dealt with in a separate section, with special attention for Asia. The information presented here focuses on freely accessible materials. Major scientific libraries offer access to subscribed websites and databases, often even accessible at home for card holders.

However incomplete these listings are, it is most practical to arrange them along the continents, in alphabetical order Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe. This arrangement shows the gaps more clearly.

I have started to include here also digitized parliamentary proceedings. Legal historians often deal with old books. This page offers also some guidance to old printed books, including incunabula and blockbooks, both in online bibliographies and digital libraries. Digitized pamphlets are presented on a special page.

Africa

Algeria

Egypt

Ghana

Liberia

Mozambique

Namibia

  • Namibian Digital Archive, Polytechnic of Nambia, Utah Valley Univesrity and National Archives of Namibia – digitized archival collections, photographs, films and books

South Africa

Sudan

America

Argentina

Bolivia

Brazil

Canada

Chile

Colombia

Cuba

Guatemala

  • Guatemala Collection, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University – Internet Archive – some 200 early works

Haiti

  • Remember Haiti, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University – a digital library on Haiti’s history
  • Haiti Collection, Internet Archive, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University – a digital collection with some 900 titles
  • Haiti Digital Library, Haiti Laboratory, Duke University – an initiative for a digital library
  • Haiti Legal Bibliography, Library of Congress – the books in this bibliography are being digitized

Mexico

Panama

Peru

Puerto Rico

Suriname

  • Suriname 1599-1975, Universiteit van Amsterdam – only a few books but many old maps of Suriname
  • Surinam literature, Digital Library for Dutch Literature – old literature about Suriname and modern literature from Suriname; almost all works in Dutch

United States of America

Venezuela

Asia

Afghanistan

Armenia

China

Georgia

Hong Kong

India

Indonesia

Iran

  • Asnad: Digital Persian Archive, Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien, Philipps-Universität, Marburg – historical documents up to the 20th century

Israel

  • Digital Library, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem
  • Digitized Book Repository, Jewish National and University Library, Jerusalem
  • Digital Media Center, Younes and Soraya Nazarian Library, University of Haifa – a digital library with several sections, including historic maps and aerial photos, rare books and a archive on Druzes

Japan

Laos

  • Digital Library of Lao Manuscripts, National Library of Laos, Universität Passau and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz – with also manuscripts concerning law

Mongolia

Myanmar

Nepal

Philippines

Qatar

  • Qatar Digital Library, Qatar National Library – a general digital library about Arab history and culture

Singapore

  • Books SG, National Library of Singapore – a digital library with Malaysian manuscripts and a number of (recent) legal works

Vietnam

  • Fonds Indochine, National Library of Vietnam – French publications from the seventeenth century onwards; interface in English and Vietnamese

Australia and New Zealand

Australia

New Zealand

Europe

Austria

  • ALEX, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna – historical legislation and administration, parliamentary records, jurisprudence and legal journals
  • Die Akten der Kaiserlichen Reichshofrats – the acts of the Imperial Court Council, starting with the Alte Prager Akten (1542-1766) and the Antiqua series (mainly 17th century)
  • Archiv 1848, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna – documents on the revolution of 1848
  • Registers for the Wiener Stadtbücher, 1395-1430 – these indices allow you to search for many things in these registers of testaments; note also the glossary of legal terms

For Austria the portal RepÖstRG, Repertorium digitaler Quellen zur österreichischen Rechtsgeschichte in der Frühen Neuzeit, created by Heino Speer (Klagenfurt), offers you quick access to digitized legal sources; there is a second URL.

Bulgaria

Croatia

Czech Republic

Denmark

  • Studér Middelalder på Nettet – texts in Old Danish, with also some legal texts: the Jyske Lov, the Skånske Kirkelov and the Flensborg Stadsret
  • Eremit: Litteratur om København – digitized literature on the history of Copenhagen
  • E-Bøger, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen – some five hundred digitized old books with legal works among them

Estonia

  • Digital Library, National Library of Estland
  • EEVA, Tartu University and Estonian Literature Museum – a digital library with texts up to the mid-nineteenth century; interface in Estonian, English, German and Russian
  • DSpace at Tartu University Library – in this digital repertory you can find also older books, especially in German and Russian

France

Germany

Hungaria

Iceland

  • Handrit – digitized medieval manuscripts and old books of the Arnamagnaeanske Samling, Kopenhagen, the National and University Library and the Stofnun Árna Magnússonar, Reykjavik
  • Tímarit, National and University Library, Reykjavik – digitized journals from Iceland, Greenland and the Faroer
  • Baekur, National and University Library, Reykjavik – digitized old books from Iceland

Ireland and Northern Ireland

Italy

Latvia

  • Digital Library, National Library of Latvia – here also for example old maps

Lithuania

  • Epaveldas – the central digital library of Lithuania

Luxemburg

Norway

  • Det digitale Nasjonalbiblioteket, Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo
  • Digitale bøker, Digitalarkivet, Arkivverket – this digital library contains some books on old law (Gamle lov)
  • Dokumentasjonsprosjektet, Universitetet i Oslo – a portal to several text collections and research tools such as the Diplomatarium Norvegicum and the Regesta Norvegica
  • Minuskel, Universitetet i Oslo – a digital library
  • Lovdata – a website of the Ministry of Justice and Oslo University for Norwegian legislation, both in Norse and English, with also historical legislation

Poland

Portugal

Rumania

Russia

Serbia

Slovakia

Slovenia

Spain

Sweden

  • Digitala samlingar, Kungliga Biblioteket, Stockholm – with the Suecia antiqua et moderna and old maps among the digital collections
  • Rara, Umeå Universitet – among the digitized rare books are a few books concerning Juridik
  • Fornsvenska textbanken, Lunds Universitet – a collection of digitized texts in Old Swedish, with pride of place for the volumes of the Samling af Sveriges Gamla Lagar (1827-1877)
  • Litteraturbanken – texts or scans of literary works and books on cultural history; interface Swedish and English

Switzerland

      • e-Helvetica, Swiss National Library, Bern – the beta-version of its digital library
      • Bibliothèque numérique RERO DOC – with an user interface in four languages
      • e-raraSwiss electronic library – a digital library portal for old editions, with a search interface in English, German and French
      • Amtsdruckschriften, Schweierisches Bundesarchiv, Bern – the Bundesblatt from 1848 onwards, diplomatic documents for 1848-1945, Bundesratsprotokolle 1848-1882, and the Amtliches Bulletin der Bundesversammlung 1971-1995
      • Retrodigitized Journals – among these journals are the Gesetze, Dekrete und Verordnungen des Kanton Berns (1811-1993)
      • Sammlung Schweizerischer Rechtsquellen online – digitized versions of the earlier series with source editions; interface in German, French and Italian
      • Wickiana, Zentralbibliothek Zürich – 430 popular prints with (illustrated) news from the sixteenth century collected by Johann Jacob Wick

Other digital libraries and link collections

A number of digital libraries is concerned with constitutions in several European countries or even worldwide:

Some digital libraries are the fruit of international cooperation or cover several countries:

Some digital libraries are concerned with several countries or a large region, for example East Asia and South Asia:

      • Ostasiatica, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz – this digital library covers Indonesia, China, Japan and other countries; do visit their portal and web guide CrossAsia
      • South East Asia Digital Library, Northern Illinois University – with also web directories
      • Ostasien, Digitale Sammlungen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich – manuscripts and books from Korea, Japan and China (7th-19th century)
      • Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago and Center for Research Libraries, Chicago – also for maps and images, and for example the South Asian Union Catalogue, a historical bibliography of works printed since 1556
      • SouthEast Asian Images & Texts, University of Wisconsin – for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines
      • Digital South Asia, Universität Tübingen – with the Epigraphia Canatica
      • e-Asia Digital Library, University of Oregon – in particular for China, Japan and Korea
      • International Dunhuang Project, British Library – the BL leads an international consortium of major libraries for digitizing the manuscripts found at Dunhuang which pertain to the history of China, Tibet and other countries
      • Digital Himalaya, Cambridge University and University of British Columbia, Vancouver – a project concerning Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and other countries

Here a number of other useful digital libraries:

A number of existing collection of links will guide you to many more digital libraries

For old legal books it is never too late to check the holdings of the Max-Planck-Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte in Frankfurt am Main and this institute’s catalogues of old editions created by Douglas Osler. National bibliographies, bibliographies of legal books – e.g. the Bibliography of Early American Law by Morris L. Cohen (6 vol., Buffalo, N.Y., 1998; supplement 2003) – and special bibliographies for old editions, some of them online:

The Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) offers a number of online bibliographic databases, including a portal to search in several online catalogues for old editions and manuscripts.

For incunabula, books printed before 1501, the following websites provide ample information and help:

  • Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke (GW), Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – the central bibliography for incunabula, with links to digitized copies
  • Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC), British Library – a more succinct but uptodate overview of incunabula worldwide, with here, too, links to digitized copies
  • BSB-INK, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich – the BSB has the largest incunabula collection of the world, and now also a image search interface for the study of woodcuts; the overview of printed catalogues is most useful
  • INKA, Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen – the incunabula meta-catalogue for South German libraries, with links to digitized copies
  • Verteilte Inkunabelbibliothek, Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek, Cologne, and Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel – a digital collection with some 600 incunabula
  • Bodleian Incunabula Catalogue, Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • Index Possessorum Incunabulorum, Paul Needham, Princeton University, and CERL – data on 32,000 owners and owning institutions mentioned in copies of incunabula editions

Blockbooks, books printed in the fifteenth century without moving types, have been in particular digitized in the following collections: