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 rather 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.

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. 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.

Legal historians often deal with old books. This page offers also some guidance to old printed books, both in online bibliographies and digital libraries. Digitized pamphlets are presented on a special page.





  • 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)
  • 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







  • Numerica Sinica, École Nationale Supérieure de Lyon – a portal to digital resources on China and Taiwan
  • Modern China Studies, East Asia Library, University of Pittsburgh – a digital library focusing on the 20th century
  • Chinese Memory, Digital Library, National Library of China, Beijing – apart from old books also specific collections, among them the Min Guo Laws
  • Bibliotheca Sinica 2.0, Universität Wien – this blog helps you tracking digitized Chinese books




Czech Republic


  • 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



  • 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





  • Remember Haiti, John Carter Brown Library, Brown University – a digital library on Haiti’s history
  • 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

Hong Kong



  • 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;


  • Digital Library of India, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – this digital library is a mirror site of the Universal Digital Library which is particular strong in works from India and China
  • Digital Library of India, ERNET - one can search for specific subjects in this general digital library
  • Digital Library of India, Hyderabad – the subject division in this general digital library enhances searching for juridical works from around 1850 onwards
  • Panjab Digital Library, Chandigarh – aiming for example at preserving the Sikhs’ culture and heritage; registration necessary
  • Rare Books Online, Kerala State Library – in this relatively small digital library you will find many works concerning law
  • Legal Information of India Institute – apart from modern laws also Indian Acts starting from 1836, the Indian Treaty Series from 1947 onwards and Supreme Court Decisions since 1950
  • South Asian Legal History Resources, Mitra Sharafi, University of Wisconsin – this blog is not a digital library, but offers certainly a collection of useful links
  • Anglo-Indian Legal History, Mitch Fraas, University of Pennsylvania – a project with Privy Council Appeal cases from the eighteenth century, and some additional documents
  • Grantha- und Telugudrucke, Universität Cologne – rare 19th and 20th-century books from South-India
  • Digital Colonial Documents, Latrobe University – 19th-century English reports and documents



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

Ireland and Northern Ireland


  • 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




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


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



  • Epaveldas – the central digital library of Lithuania





New Zealand


  • 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










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





  • 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


  • 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


  • 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

United States of America


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

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:

  • Ostasiatica, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz – this digital library covers Indonesia, China, Japan and other countries
  • South East Asia Digital Library, Northern Illinois University
  • Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago
  • Ostasien, Digitale Sammlungen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich – manuscripts and books from Korea, Japan and China (7th-19th century)

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 such as the  Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC), the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands, the Short Title Catalogus Vlaanderen for Flanders, the German VD16VD17 and VD18 (with digitized copies), the English Short Title Catalogue, the Italian EDIT16 and LAIT for old books in Tuscany, the Catálogo Colectivo de Patrimonio Bibliográfico Español and the Catálogo Colectivo de Impresos Latinoamericanos hasta 1851 should not be forgotten. 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 website 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 incunabula

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