The 1828 Catalogue Project

The 1828 Catalogue Project of the University of Virginia Law Library reconstructs the collection of legal texts purchased for the first U.Va. Library and listed in the University’s 1828 Library Catalogue. Most of the 8,000 books in the Catalogue were purchases made under the direction of Thomas Jefferson, and the 375 titles in the Law sections of the Catalogue provide insight into Jefferson’s ideas on American jurisprudence and legal education in his time. After fire and time scattered many of these foundational texts, the U.Va. Law Library has been working for the past forty years to collect exact duplicate editions of the Catalogue’s 375 legal titles. To date, the Law Library has collected 317 of these legal texts, all of which are available to researchers at the Law Library's Special Collections.

The 1828 Catalogue Project also reconstructs U.Va.’s historical legal library on a Virtual Bookshelf. This digital tool displays high-resolution images of the 1828 law books as they would have appeared on the Rotunda Library shelves and uses bibliographic information from the 1828 Catalogue to enable deep research into this historical book collection. By expanding access to these historical texts, this project aims to fulfill one of Jefferson’s foundational goals for U.Va., that its library serve as a robust and open portal for scholarly knowledge.