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Harvard Law School Historical & Special Collections

Historical & Special Collections houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of research materials for the study of legal history. Materials in Historical & Special Collections are open to all researchers regardless of academic affiliation.

 

Contact Information

 
(617) 495-4550
Fax:
(617) 495-4449
specialc@law.harvard.edu
Ask a Librarian:
http://asklib.law.harvard.edu/
Address:
1545 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA, 02138
 
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HOURS OF OPERATION

 
Harvard Law School Historical & Special Collections 1566 View Hours by Month
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Reading Room
 
 

ABOUT

 

With nearly 3000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 300,000 rare books and more than 70,000 visual images—photographs, prints, paintings and objects—Historical & Special Collections houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of research materials for the study of legal history. Its chief mission is to make available materials that document the history of the law in general and of Anglo-American law in particular.

Added Names/Aliases: Law School Special Collections

With nearly 3000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 300,000 rare books and more than 70,000 visual images—photographs, prints, paintings and objects—Historical & Special Collections houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of research materials for the study of legal history. Its chief mission is to make available materials that document the history of the law in general and of Anglo-American law in particular.

Added Names/Aliases: Law School Special Collections

 

Collections

 

Rare Books & Early Manuscripts

The Rare Book Collection contains over 300,000 printed books, pamphlets, broadsides and other material, dating from 1465 to the present, mostly pre-1900. The Early Manuscripts Collection contains a wide variety of documents relating to the law, ranging in date from the late thirteenth to ninteenth century including  lawyers’ business records, lecture notes, student notebooks, commonplace books, accounts of trials, peerage claims, judges’ opinions, docket books, and precedents of pleading. The collection also includes English deeds (dating from circa 1170 to 1888), manor rolls (ranging in date from 1305 to 1770), and chancery writs.

Modern Manuscripts

The Modern Manuscripts collection contains more than 250 individual collections that include papers of distinguished members of the bar, bench, and legal teaching profession. In addition, it maintains papers relating to specific U.S. court cases; individually bound and loose English and American manuscripts written after 1701.

Red Set

The Red Set is the Law School’s archive for faculty, student and institutional publications and includes: faculty books, articles, and speeches; Law School department and program publications; and student prize essays, theses, and student-edited law reviews.

Art & Visual Materials

The Art and Visual Materials collection, one of the world's largest collections of visual materials relating to the law, documents the history of legal systems in general and the common law in particular through prints, photographs, paintings, sculpture, and three-dimensional artifacts.

 
 

LIBRARY STAFF

 
Beck, Karen Manager, Historical and Special Collections Request an Appointment
Kelly, Jane Historical & Special Collections Assistant
Person, Mary Rare Books Cataloger/Reference Librarian
Schoenfeld, Lesley Public Services & Visual Collections Administrator Request an Appointment
 

VISITOR POLICIES

 
  • Access
  • Materials in Historical & Special Collections (HSC) are open to all researchers regardless of academic affiliation. Researchers without a Harvard University ID must check-in at the Law School Library Circulation Desk in order to proceed to Historical & Special Collections. The HSC reading room is open by appointment only Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm. Beginning in January 2018, Historical & Special Collections appointments will be available Tuesday-Friday from 10am to 5pm. Appointments for modern manuscripts and visual materials require two business days advance notice, all other materials may be requested one business day in advance. All researchers are required to show a photo ID and fill out reader registration paperwork. Request an appointment. For additional information please see Planning Your Visit.

 
 

ACCESSIBILITY

 
  • The Harvard Law School Library is wheelchair accessible. Ramps and automatic doors are located at the Areeda entrance to Langdell Hall. Other entrances require use of the handicapped access lift or elevators. Please consult Circulation staff for assistance, 617-495-3455.At the Law School, students who may need special services or more information on disability accommodations should contact the Dean of Students Office, Disability Services, Harvard Law School, Caspersen Student Center 3039, Cambridge, MA 02138, or call 617-495-1880.