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Legal and Historical Resources

Cornell University Library and Cornell Law Library offer an extraordinarily rich collection of legal and historical resources, as well as rare books, manuscripts, and graphic materials. As one of the top 10 research libraries in the United States, Cornell University Library is a leader in the use of digital technologies and electronic resources to make its collections available online for the benefit of scholars, students, and other users worldwide.

Cornell Law Library’s foreign law collection has strong holdings in European and British Commonwealth law, and is building strength in newer areas such as East Asia law. The library’s web site provides ready access to exceptional collections of print and online legal resources. The French law collection is one of the most extensive collections held in the United States. It consists of such major sets as the Gazette du palais, Recueil Dalloz, and J.C.P. (Jurisclasseur Périodique), all Répertoires of Encyclopédie juridique Dalloz, most law reviews, and a large number of treatises. It is augmented by online access to many sources.

The U.S. law collection is excellent and up-to-date. The print collection includes numerous historical materials, including a large collection of early American law treatises and almost all colonial and early statutory laws. Seven research attorneys, trained in law and library science, teach credit courses in legal research at Cornell Law School. They also provide research assistance (including electronic research assistance) to French judges as part of the new Cornell Center for the Documentation on American Law.

Cornell Law Library’s rare book collection consists of several thousand volumes, primarily English and continental European law books, including many 16th and 17th century works. The Bennett Collection is an almost complete collection of early colonial and statutory laws for every state of the United States. The 19th century historical trials collection is currently digitized in partnership with the Hein Publishing Company. The General Donovan Nuremberg Trial Transcripts and artifacts are one of Cornell Law Library’s special collections, which also include State Department travel photo albums and other materials of former U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers.

Liberia law is a focus because of Professor Milton Konvitz’s 20 years with the Liberian Law Codification Project; the collection includes unique materials due to the destruction of the National Liberian Library during the civil war. Many of these documents have been digitized and are freely available online.

Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections hold the largest compilations outside of France of materials related to the French Revolution and Lafayette. There are also extensive holdings of Enlightenment figures such as Rousseau and Montesquieu. Taken together, these collections provide a comprehensive view of French political and social history from the Enlightenment through the Revolution, the Napoleonic period, and the Restoration.

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743–94) is considered to be the founder of modern chemistry. Cornell holds the largest collection outside of France of his papers, which offer insight into his crucial work in the discovery of oxygen and the development of modern chemical nomenclature. The collection provides insight into a pivotal moment in the history of science and the history of France.

Online resources include:

Cornell Law Library library

European history and culture

The French Revolution