Digital libraries

On this page you will find a collection of links to digital libraries – in the sense of digitized library collections – 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 extensive information for the United Kingdom, here you will find a number of general digital libraries. The Netherlands and Belgium, too, are treated more extensively on the page for Old Dutch Law. Materials concerning legal history are of course present elsewhere, too. Currently this page contains information for around eighty countries with a clear focus on digital libraries containing historical collections. 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, treaties 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 – with a section for the Middle East – and Australia. This arrangement shows the gaps or absence of resources more clearly. It should work also as an invitation to submit suggestions.

Their sheer number, variety and qualities prompted me in June 2022 top place digital libraries in Europe on a separate page. For good reasons some special categories with a clear European character will remain here.

For tracking official gazettes the Foreign Official Gazette Database (Center for Research Libraries, Chicago, IL), even though not updated since 2007, is very helpful. CRL has digitized also rare African, Iraqi and Iranian gazettes, these have move to LLMC Digital with gazettes from other countries (licesned access). In some cases older editions have been digitized at the websites for current gazettes which can be found using portals for contemporary law such as Globalex and the World Legal Information Institute. Sometimes the overview at Government Gazettes Online will help you; the list at the English Wikipedia is also helpful. You can also try the Foreign Official Government Gazettes Database (IALS, School of Advanced Studies, London). Another important overview with links to online versions of current gazettes is the Gazette Collection of the Library of Congress. The Law Library of the Library of Congress is the largest law library of the world, with often uniquely rich holdings for many countries. A number of rare gazettes has been digitized, some foreign websites for gazettes have been archived. The Library of Congress created an interactive map of (historical) gazettes. For Latin America you might want to look at the Red de Boletines Oficiales Americanos. The Digital South Asia Library (University of Chicago) offers the International Union LIst of South Asian Newspapers and Gazettes. Harvard Law School Library has digitized a number of issues of official gazettes from some countries in Africa and South-East Asia. Here I aim at mentioning those gazettes for which you can find historical issues online.

I have started to include here also digitized parliamentary proceedings. Legal historians naturally often deal with old books. Thus this page offers also some guidance to old printed books, including incunabula and block books, both in online bibliographies and digital libraries. I mention also a number of online historical bibliographies for European countries. Digitized pamphlets are presented on a separate special page.


Some general digital libraries:




The HathiTrust Digital Library has a digitized copy of the second version of the Description de l’Égypte including some of Champollion’s decipherings of hieroglyphs.


Ivory Coast



  • Bibliothèque numérique, Bibliothèque nationale du Royaume de Maroc, Rabat
  • Bibliothèque numérique, Fondation du roi Abdul-Aziz Al Saoud pour les études islamiques et les sciences humaines, Casablanca – with 470 lithographed books, and also digitized manuscripts and a small section Archives marocaines
  • Bulletin officiel, Royaume du Maroc – available in Arabic and French, there is a separate page for issues since 1912 of this gazette



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



South Africa




General digital libraries




  • Digital collection, Bermuda National Library, Hamilton – mainly newspapers and periodicals






Costa Rica


  • Cuban law, Digital Library of the Caribbean
  • Colecciones digitales, Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí, Havana
  • Biblioteca Digital de Cuba – a portal with digitized materials from four institutions
  • Cuban Heritage Collection, University of Miami Libraries – several digital collections concerning the history of Cuba
  • Cuban Law, eCollections, Florida International University Law Library, Miami – a small but important digital collection with materials printed and used before 1961
  • Mario Diaz Cruz Collection, eCollections, Florida International University Law Library, Miami – materials collected by a prominent Cuban lawyer

Dominican Republic


  • Repositorio digital, Biblioteca Nacional de Ecuador, Quito – with for example historical newspapers and official gazettes
  • Bibiioteca Digital Ecuatoriana, Consorcio de Bibliotecas Universitarias de Ecuador (COBUEC) – a portal for digital collections at universities and the Biblioteca Nacional

El Salvador





  • Digital collections, National Library of Jamaica, Kingston – with for example collections about riots, rebellions and the slave trade
  • Government of Jamaica Dcuments, National Library of Jamaica – an online guide and digitized documents from 1960 onwards
  • Jamaica Law, University of the West Indies, Mona – four volumes of the Laws of Jamaica between 1906 and 1910


  • Banque Numérique des Patrimoines Martiniquais, Collectivité Territoriale de Martinique and Direction régionale des Affaires Culturelles – a portal for digitized cultural heritage with digitized civil records, archival records, images, archaeological objects and books; interface French and English



  • Leyes, gacetas y tratados, Biblioteca Enrique Bolaños – constitutions, constitutional law, the official gazette Gaceta – Diario official de Nicaragua (1952-), and legislation
  • Colección digital, Banco nacional de Nicaragua, Managua – in the corner Patrimoniales you will find a section Derecho




  • Biblioteca Virtual, Biblioteca Nacional del Perú, Lima
  • Archivo Digital de la Legislación en el Perú, Congreso de la República de Perú – the Leyes de Indias, constitutions and laws
  • Constituciones del Perú, Congreso de la República de Perú – constitutions from 1823 to 1993
  • Peru Collection, John Carter Brown Library – Internet Archive – more than 1,100 digitized early printed books
  • Biblioteca Indiana, Proyecto Estudios Indianos, Universidad de Pacifico, Lima and Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona – a small digital library with Early Modern books and a number of modern studies and editions; interface Spanish and English

Puerto Rico


  • Suriname, Erfgoed, 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 are in Dutch, including the almanachs
  • Buku – Bibliotheca Surinamica: Natalie Zemon Davis – online version of three of her essays about the history of Suriname on this book history blog by Carl Haarnack around his book collection
  • World Digital Library: Suriname – a small digital collection with mainly prints and maps, but also two interesting British reports from 1920 about Suriname

The platform Delpher of the Dutch Royal Library contains more books about Suriname, newspapers (kranten) and journals (tijdschriften) published in Suriname and also official bulletins and gazettes; a number of this publications stem from the collection at Amsterdam (UvA). Searching the digitale collections of Leiden University Library yeilds a substantial number of results, partially in open access.

Trinidad and Tobago

United States of America




For some countries the Asian Legal Information Institute provides also historical information. Some digital libraries are concerned with several countries or a large region, in particular East Asia and South Asia:

  • Digital collections, CrossAsia, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg – eleven digitized collections at this portal for Asian studies
  • Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago and CRL – also for maps and images, and for example the South Asian Union Catalogue, a historical bibliography of works printed since 1556, and a catalogue of 19th-century publications held at the Oriental and India Office Collections of the British Library
  • Digital South Asia, Universität Tübingen – with the Epigraphia Canatica
  • Literatur zu Süd-Asien, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg – works from the eighteenth to the twentieth century
  • South Asia Open Archives, JSTOR and CRL – the SAOA contains currently some 44,000 publications in open access in thirteen languages, mainly materials from India, with newspapers and weekly reports on Indian newspapers
  • South Asian Digital Collection, Library of Congress – with 900 items
  • South East Asia Digital Library, Northern Illinois University – with also web directories
  • SouthEast Asian Images & Texts, University of Wisconsin – for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the Philippines
  • Hermann Gundert Portal, Universitätsbibliothek Tübingen – a digital collection with texts mainly from India in Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil , Kannada and other languages; interface German and English
  • Malay Concordance Project, Australian National University – a digital collection with 165 pre-modern texts from Malaysia and Indonesia
  • Asean Digital Library, National Library Board, Singapore, and Association of South East Asian Nations – a portal for several digital libvrary collections in South East Asia
  • South East-Asia in the Ming-Shi Lu, National University of Singapore – access to the 3,000 reference in the Chinese imperial chronicles
  • Ostasiatica, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-Preussischer Kulturbesitz – this digital library covers Indonesia, China, Japan and other countries; do visit their portal and web guide CrossAsia
  • Ostasien, Digitale Sammlungen, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich – manuscripts and books from Korea, Japan and China (7th-19th century)
  • e-Asia Digital Library, University of Oregon – in particular for China, Japan and Korea
  • East Asia Library Digital Bookshelf, Princeton University Library – some 140 works, mainly from China
  • The Asia Directories Database, Institute for European Global Studies, Universität Basel – yearly directories published in Hongkong between 1863 and 1941 with also legal information for coutnries in East Asia
  • 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
  • Tibetan Texts, Kern Institute and Leiden University Library – some 2,000 block prints and manuscripts, nearly 1,800 in open access
  • Digital Resources, American Oriental Society – a concise overview of major digital project sconcerning the ancient and modern Near East and Asia
  • Bibliothèque Numérique Asiatique / Asian Digital Library – Institut d’Asie Orientale, Lyon, and Université Aix-Marseille – digitized books, periodicals, theses, sound recordings and archival documents
  • Golden Collection of Eurasia, Library Assembly of Eurasia and Russian National Library – a project with cultural highlights from countries around and within the former Soviet Union
  • South Asian Newspapers, Eastview and CRL – 9 newspapers since 1850 from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan
  • South East Asian Newspapers, Eastview and CRL – 129 newspapers from 1839 onwards, mainly from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam
  • Digital Silk Road Project, National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo – a digital cultural heritage website about Central and East Asia, with a section Rare Books (Toyo Bunko) focusing on exploration reports and travel books
  • ADC Treaties, Institute for European Global Studies, Universität Basel
  • Collections patrimoniales numérisées de la BULAC, Bibliothèque des langues et civilisations, Paris – with various manuscript and book collections, in particular in Japanese, Khmer and Ottoman
  • P.G. Sindhi Library – an initiative for digitization of books written in Sindhi after the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan; see also the Sindhi Collection in the Internet Archive with some 1,200 items

Middle East




  • Bibliotheca Khmerica, Bibliothèque nationale de Cambodge, Phnom Penh
  • Khmer Language Books, National Library of Cambodia and Digital Library for International Research (DLIR) – 171 items published between 1950 and 1973


Harvard University Library offers in its research guide for Chinese studies an overview of its rich digitized collections with Chinese books and other materials, some 9,600 items, also accessible through Harvard Digital Collections. The Books in China database (University of Wisconsin-Madison and Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Berlin) offers information on some 32,000 works.


East Timor


Hong Kong



For the colonial period one can find numerous digitized publications, including journals (tijdschriften), newspapers (kranten) and official gazettes, at the Delpher platform of the Dutch Royal Library, The Hague.


  • Asnad: Digital Persian Archive, Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien, Philipps-Universität, Marburg – historical documents up to the 20th century
  • Nashriyah: digital Iranian history, University of Manchester – a library with in particular periodicals and newspapers from the second half of the twentieth century
  • Persian Language Rare Materials, Library of Congress – 315 lithographs and early printed books
  • Kagaz-i Akhbar [Newspapers – Persian Publications Database] – with journals and newspapers from 1850 to 1979, including legal publications; interface Farsi



Digital Humanities Resources for Early Modern Japanese Literature is a website created by Joseph Bills with very useful information about databases, datasets and tools.



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







North Korea


  • Electronic Library, MARA, Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, Oman – with a number of individual collections, among them manuscripts and books from Zanzibar; interface English, French and Arabic




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



South Korea

Sri Lanka





Australia and New Zealand; Oceania


New Zealand


Other digital libraries and link collections

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

For treaties one can point to a number of good resources:

You can find a number of treaties – often translated into English – in Yale’s Avalon Project.

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

Here a number of other useful digital libraries:

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

Bibliographies for legal history

Bibliographies for legal history come in various forms. Most often they refer to scolarly literature, but in some cases there are bibliographies tracing publications containing legislation and other primary sources. For older materials both genres can appear in a mixed form. Below I will mention a few examples of both types. When useful I mentioned them already for a particular country. This section is clearly under construction

Scholarly literature


  • Beale, J.H., Bibliography of early English law books (Cambridge, MA.,1926; reprint 1966) – supplement by R.B. Anderson (Cambridge, MA, 1943; reprint 1966).
  • Bibliography of Early American Law, Morris L. Cohen (ed.) (6 vol., Buffalo, NY, 1998; supplement 2003)

Early printed works

For old legal books it is never too late to check the holdings of the Max-Planck-Institut für Rechtsgeschichte und Rechtstheorie in Frankfurt am Main and this institute’s catalogues of Early Modern editions created by Douglas Osler. You can consult online PDF’s of his Catalogue of books printed before 1801 in the legal historical section of the Biblioteca di Scienze Sociali dell’Università degli Studi di Firenze (2 vol., Florence 2005-2014; vol. 1, From the beginning of printing to 1600, vol. 2, 1600-1700). National bibliographies, bibliographies of legal books – e.g. the Bibliography of Early American Law by Morris L. Cohen (6 vol., Buffalo, NY, 1998; supplement 2003) – and special bibliographies for old editions can be most helpful, a number of them available online:

Outside Europe you can benefit from these online bibliographical resources:

Some other online resources in open access can be helpful, too. The Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) offers a number of online bibliographic databases, including the Heritage of the Printed Book (HPB) database for searching copies of Early Modern editions in European libraries. The bilingual portal Bibliopolis. Geschiedenis van het gedrukte boek in Nederland [Bibliopolis. History of the printed book in the Netherlands] offers much information on its subject. A new guide to resources is offered by Klaus Gantert, Handschriften, Inkunabeln, Alte Drucke – Informationsressourcen zu historischen Bibliotheksbeständen (Berlin-Boston 2019). The section Web Resources for the Rare Materials Cataloger of the RBMS is very practical for research. The guide to historical book collections by Bernhard Fabian, Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland, Österreich und Europa (Hildesheim 2003) is also accessible online.

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

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

European historical bibliographies online

With the temporary disappearance in 2021 of a useful portal presenting links to online historical bibliographies for twelve European countries it seemed useful to create a succinctly commented list, currently for seventeen countries.

Eastern Europe

– Bibliotheks- und Bibliographie-Portal, Herder-Institut für historische Ostmitteleuropaforschung, Marburg – – publications since 1994
– The European Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies (EBSEES) – – functioning between 1991 and 2007, no longer updated; interface English


– Österreichische Historische Bibliographie (ÖHB), Universität Klagenfurt – – from 1945 onwards


– Bibliografie van de Geschiedenis van België / Bibliographie de l’Histoire de Belgique (BGB-BHB) – – covers 1952-2008; interface Dutch, French and English
– BGB-BHB, Archives de l’État en Belgique – – publications since 2009; interface Dutch, French, German and English

Czech Republic

– Bibliografie dějin Českých zemí (BDCZ), Czech Academy of Sciences – – interface Czech, English and German – with also digitized bibliographical yearbooks


– Dansk Historisk Bibliografi, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen –


– Bibliographie annuelle de l’Histoire de France (BHF), CNRS and Bibliothèque nationale de France – – search interface in English; ended in Autumn 2022


– Jahresberichte für Deutsche Geschichte (JBG), Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften – – publications 1949-2015; interface German and English
– Jahresberichte für Deutsche Geschichte (JDG), BBAW, Berlin – vol. 1-14 (1925-1938) –
– Historische Bibliographie Online, Oldenburg Wissenschaftsverlag and Arbeitsgemeinschaft historischer Forschungseinrichtungen (AHF) – – publications since 1990, no longer updated since 2015
– Deutsche Historische Bibliographie (DHB), Historicum – – with links to other (regional) bibliographies, and other bibliographic resources – simple search in the top menu bar leads to the beta version of an interface in German and English
Virtuelle Deutsche Landesbibliographie (VDL), Bibliothek, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology – – includes also articles in journals
– Bibliographischer Informationsdienst, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich – – for 20th century history, access after registration, with a PDF-archive


– Humanities Bibliographical Database (Humanus) – – with a section for history; interface Hungarian, English and German
– EHM: Elektronikus Periodika Archivum (EPA) – Humanus – Matarka (for Hungarian journals since 1800) – – a portal with access to Humanus and three other resources, in particular for journals


Íslandssaga í greinum [Icelandic history in articles], Gunnar Karlsson and Gudmundur Jónson, National University Reykjavik – – a database with 13,500 articles, updated until 2005, for some journals until 2015


– Irish History Online, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin – – with links to external resources for Irish history


– Bibliografia Storica Nazionale (dal 2000) (BSN), Giunta Centrale per gli Studi Storici – – publications since 2000; interface Italian, English, German, French and Spanish
– BSN Catalogo Retrospettivo – – interface Italian, English, German, French and Spanish


– Lietuvos Istorijos Bibliografia – – interface Lithuanian and English


– Digitale Bibliografie Nederlandse Geschiedenis (DBNG), Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague and Huygens Institute, Amsterdam – – interface Dutch and English – no updates after 2016, end of service announced for June 30, 2021
– Historie in Titels (HinT) – – licensed resource, not anymore updated since 2005, originally created at the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA) – interface Dutch, English and German


– Historisk bibliografi (Norhist), Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo – – for the period 1980-1997


– Bibliografia historii polskiej, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej – – access seems to be currently unsafe or disabled; works


– Indice Histórico Español (IHE), Revistes Cientifiques de la Universitat de Barcelona – – a bibliographical journal
– Modernitas: Bibliografia de Historia Moderna, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales (CSIC) –
– Indices, CSIC – – a general scientific bibliography with attention to the humanities; interface Spanish and English


– Svensk Historisk Bibliografi – digital 1771-2010 (SHBd), Kungliga Biblioteket, Stockholm – – also available as an app


– Bibliographie der Schweizergeschichte (BSG), Schweizerische Nationalbibliothek, Bern – – interface German, French, Italian and English

United Kingdom

– Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) – – licensed resource hosted by Brepols