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The American Law Institute Archives

Questions about our collections? Contact the archives.

The Archives of the American Law Institute (ALI) are located at the Biddle Law Library at Penn Law. Under the terms of a custodial agreement between the Institute and the University, the archives were moved from the Institute to the Biddle Law Library in May 1994 and are currently maintained by the Library’s Archives Department. The collection contains records of the Institute since its inception in 1923, as well as the archives of American Law Institute-American Bar Association on Continuing Professional Education, an educational program administered by the Institute since 1947 to 2012.

History of the American Law Institute

The American Law Institute (ALI) was founded in 1923 in response to a perceived uncertainty and complexity in American law. An association of practitioners and scholars known as the “Committee on the Establishment of a Permanent Organization for Improvement of Law” published a study that recommended a lawyers’ organization be formed to improve the law and its administration. The committee was chaired by Elihu Root and counted Learned Hand, Benjamin Cardozo, and Samuel Williston among its members.

The ALI was conceived as a representative gathering of the American bar (including judges, lawyers, and law professors) for the stated mission “to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work.” Former Penn Law Dean William Draper Lewis was the Institute’s first director, running the organization’s operations out of his campus office.

Restatements of the Law and Other ALI Projects

The Institute’s first project was a comprehensive Restatement of the Law, completed in 1944. The nine broad areas of the common law analyzed and restated were Agency, Conflict of Laws, Contracts, Judgments, Property, Restitution, Security, Torts, and Trusts. In the 1950s, the Institute began work on the Second Restatement series, which updated the original Restatements, reflected new analyses and concepts, and expanded upon the authorities used in reaching the conclusions set forth. The Second Restatement also treated some subjects not included in its predecessor, such as Foreign Relations Law and Landlord and Tenant Law. In 1987 the Institute began its Third Restatement of the Lawl work on that series continues.

Eventually, the ALI grew to encompass other projects in addition to the Restatements, codification projects such the Model Code of Evidence and Model Penal Code. Since 1944, the Institute has cooperated with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in developing and monitoring the Uniform Commercial Code, or UCC. 

The Institute also engages in intensive examination and analysis of legal areas thought to need reform. This type of study generally culminates in extensive recommendations for change in the law and usually is published as  Principles of the Law . These projects have dealt with topics such as Aggregate Litigation, Corporate Governance, Family Dissolution, Software Contracts, Transnational Civil Procedure, Transnational Insolvency, and Transnational Intellectual Property, as well as a proposed revision of selected portions of the Federal Judicial Code.

In addition, from 1947 to 2012 the ALI worked with the American Bar Association to provide continuing legal education to lawyers, via a joint venture named American Law Institute-American Bar Association Continuing Professional Education (ALI-ABA). Inspired by the need to refresh returning WWII lawyer-veterans on the law, ALI-ABA provided the first national program of post-admission legal education and underscored the importance of continuing education to all lawyers. In 2012, by mutual agreement, the ALI and the ABA chose to move forward separately in their CLE efforts, with the intellectual content of ALI-ABA being absorbed into the CLE group of the ALI.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of over 500 linear feet. The largest portion of material relates to the creation of the Restatements of the Law and the Uniform Commercial Code and contains drafts, meeting minutes, audio tapes, and correspondence. There is also material from all of the other codes and projects, including the minutes of the Council and the Executive Committee.

Collection Gudies

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President’s Office (ALI.00)

  • Roswell B. Perkins Files, 1983-1993 (ALI.00.001)

Council Records (ALI.01)

Executive Office Files (ALI.02)

  • Geoffrey C. Hazard Director’s Files, 1982-1999 (ALI.02.004)

Committee Records (ALI.03)

Restatements and Other Codification Projects, 1923-2003 (ALI.04)

  • First Restatement of the Law Records, 1923-1959 (ALI.04.001)
  • Second Restatement of the Law Records, 1947-1990 (ALI.04.002)
  • Restatement, Third Records, 1977-2003 (ALI.04.003)
  • Uniform Commercial Code Records, 1935-2003 (ALI.04.004)
  • Model Penal Code Records, 1942-1985 (ALI.04.005)
  • “Statement of Essential Human Rights” Records, 1929-1987 (bulk: 1941-1945) (ALI.04.006)
  • Study of the Division of Jurisdiction Between State and Federal Courts Records, 1959-1969 and undated (ALI.04.007)
  • Model Land Development Code Records, 1960-1974 and undated (ALI.04.008)
  • Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure Records, 1965-1975 (ALI.04.009)
  • Model Code of Evidence Records, 1939-1954 (ALI.04.010)
  • Federal Income, Estate, and Gift Tax Project Records, 1946-1981 (bulk: 1949-1969) (ALI.04.011)
  • Federal Income Tax Project Records, 1974-1991 (ALI.04.012)
  • Uniform Property Act Records, 1936-1938 (ALI.04.013)
  • Law of Airflight Records, 1937-1939 (ALI.04.014)
  • “Paths to a Better Way” Study Records, 1986-1988 (ALI.04.015)
  • Administration of the Criminal Law Drafts, 1930-1935 (ALI.04.016)
  • Model Peer Review System Drafts, 1978-1979 (ALI.04.017)
  • Uniform Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act Records, 1937-1941 (ALI.04.018)
  • Restatement in the Courts Volumes, 1937-1976 (ALI.04.019)
  • Future of the Institute Records, 1929-1968 and undated (bulk: 1929-1948) (ALI.04.020)
  • Keeping the Restatement Up-To-Date Records, 1946-1947 (ALI.04.021)
  • Federal Securities Code Records, 1968-1981 (ALI.04.022)
  • Principles of Corporate Governance Records, 1981-1990 (ALI.04.023)
  • Criminal Justice—Youth Committee Records, 1935-1959 (ALI.04.024)
  • Code of Criminal Procedure Records, circa 1925-1959 (ALI.04.025)
  • Enterprise Responsibility for Personal Injury Records, 1985-1992 (ALI.04.026)
  • Records of the Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution: Analysis and Recommendations, 1985-2000 (ALI.04.027)
  • Federal Judicial Code Revision Project Records, 1995-2001 (ALI.04.028)
  • Anti-Trust and Patent Law Project Records, 1950-1963 (ALI.04.029)
  • Principles and Rules of Transnational Civil Procedure Records, 1996-2004 (ALI.04.030)
  • Complex Litigation Project Records, 1986-1993 (ALI.04.031)
  • Transnational Insolvency Project Records, 1991-1997(ALI.04.032)
  • Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Project Records, 2002 September 30 (ALI.04.033)
  • Model Penal Code: Sentencing Records, 2002-2003 (ALI.04.034)
  • Principles of the Law of Nonprofit Organizations Records, 2002-2003 (ALI.04.035)

ALI-ABA Committee on Continuing Legal Education (ALI.05)

  • “The Practical Lawyer” Editorial Office Files, 1950-1983 (ALI.05.001)

Publications Department (ALI.06)

Membership Department (ALI.07)

Finances (ALI.08)

Annual Meeting Records (ALI.09)

Reporters’ Papers (ALI.10)

  • Aaron D. Twerski Papers, 1991-1997 (ALI.10.001)
  • Mary Kay Kane Papers, 1988-1993 (ALI.10.002)
  • Louis Henkin Papers, 1973-1990 (ALI.10.003)
  • Michael D. Green Papers, 1994-2000 (ALI.10.004)
  • Deborah A. DeMott Papers, 1994-2007, undated (ALI.10.006)

Reel-to-Reel Audio, 1958-1992 (ALI.11)

Oral Histories, 1989-1993 (ALI.12)

Digital Collections

Council and Executive Meeting Minutes, 1922-1992

Oral Histories, 1989-1993