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The Making of Modern Law: Digital Collections

January 27, 2010
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Have you ever wanted to read the actual appellant’s brief submitted by Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board of Education?   Maybe you are stuck conducting a cite checking assignment for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and would like to examine an electronic copy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. classic treatise The Common Law (Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1881) from the comfort of your living room.   Or perhaps you would like to read the actual transcripts of the Scopes Monkey Trial after watching Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind.   Fortunately, these and thousands of other historical resources are readily available to you via the Making of Modern Law databases. (More after the jump)
Designed for scholars, students, legal historians and interdisciplinary researchers, the Making of Modern Law digital collection is actually comprised of three separate and distinct databases. The first database, Legal Treatises, 1800-1926, is derived from Nineteenth Century Legal Treatises and Twentieth Century Legal Treatises.   It covers “the watershed period of legal development during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries …, and features a fully searchable database of approximately 10 million pages and more than 21,000 works.”  Materials included in the digital library include “casebooks, local practice manuals, books on legal form, works for lay readers, pamphlets, letters and speeches.”   The second database, U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978, is derived primarily from collections held at the Jenkins Memorial Law Library and the Library of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.    Approximately 11 million pages and 350,000 separate documents from over 150,000 Supreme Court cases are made available and are fully searchable.    The final database, Trials, 1600-1926, is substantially derived from collections at the Harvard and Yale law libraries and includes not only “published trial transcripts, but also popular printed accounts of sensational trials … unofficially published accounts of trials, as well as briefs, arguments and other trial documents.”    This database has over 2 million searchable pages and 10,000 titles.   Some of the more famous trials included within the collection involve Dred ScottAaron BurrLouis XVI , and Marie Antoinette.    Also included is the  impeachment of Andrew Johnson and the Salem witchcraft  trials.
Penn Law students and affiliated faculty and staff can access the Making of Modern Law databases either by searching Biddle’s electronic catalog (LOLA) or by using the electronic A-Z list.   Feel free to explore each of the databases.