Collection Scope: Overview

The Pritzker Legal Research Center includes among its resources a library of print and electronic collections to serve the research and curricular needs of the faculty and students of Northwestern Law. The Center’s collection continues to rank among the best academic law library collections in both breadth and depth.

Principal Collection Areas

The library’s collection is oriented toward academic research. The library holds comprehensive collections of primary and secondary Anglo-American legal materials and international law, and selective, historically rich collections of foreign, comparative, and Roman law materials. The library also has many historically significant first editions of classic legal materials. The law library is a federal depository and selects a percentage of available titles. Although the library does not collect practitioner materials for the fifty states, it provides a strong collection of federal and Illinois state research materials to support the Law School’s clinics and curricular needs.

Recent Emphases

While continuing to develop its core collection of primary and secondary legal material in its traditional areas of strength (including U.S. constitutional law, the legal profession, legal ethics, and criminology), the library is paying particular attention to expanding its collections in taxation; interdisciplinary fields related to law; private international law (including business law and dispute resolution); public international law (including human rights and criminal law); European Union law; and comparative law. Not surprisingly, the enhancement of electronic collections is a significant focus of the library’s acquisitions, including digitized archives of historical materials.

Rare and Archival Collections

In addition to its comprehensive research collection of historic and contemporary U.S. legal materials, the library boasts a significant rare book collection of more than 2,500 volumes, including first editions of legal classics, a number of manuscripts and incunabula, and the Williams collection of historical legal documents. In many ways the uniqueness of the library’s holdings is the result of the significant support it received from John Henry Wigmore and Elbert H. Gary, who were responsible for acquiring several unique collections, such as the Gary Collection of Continental Law (1903), the Gary Collections of International Law, and the Collection of Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Law (1906–1907). In the fall of 1996, the Law School and library received selected papers of Arthur J. Goldberg (B.A. ’29, LL.B. ’30), the bulk of which covers the three-year period (1962–1965) Goldberg served on the United States Supreme Court and includes drafts of judicial opinions as well as comments, notes, and correspondence by him and other justices. Selected papers from the archive have been digitized and are accessible through the library’s web site. The library also holds a collection of historical legal documents from alumnus Dean Hansell, including the four legal instruments displayed in the library’s entryway.

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