Digital Collections & Exhibitions

Over the past decade the Law Library’s most prominent initiative has been the creation, preservation, and management of digital content. All of our digital content is freely available to researchers and searchable through the main Special Collections search page or through the curated exhibits for individual collections below.

The Special Collections staff are curators of the law school's substantial collection of photographs. Our digital collection features thousands of images featuring scenes from the School's long history, the earliest dating from the 1880s. Particularly rare and valuable, for example, are class photos from the late nineteenth century, and group shots of attendees at the Virginia Bar Association meetings in the early 1900s. Also included are photos of faculty and students, speakers or other visitors of the law school, alumni, and law school rooms and buildings.

A collection of André Kertész photographs consisting of fifty 8½ x 11 silver gelatin prints, donated by an anonymous alumnus of the School of Law in 1985. Together these prints, taken from 1925 to 1969, represent the central epoch in the life of Kertész—the flowering of his artistry when he first discovered Paris, his time of trials in mid-century New York, and a new wave of enthusiasm for art and life that Kertész experienced in the 1960s. This exhibition allows visitors to explore Kertész’s work through digital galleries while maps offer users the opportunity to explore Paris and New York with Kertész, providing geographic context for this remarkable collection of photographs.

A digital exhibit featuring nearly 6,000 sketches from artist Ida Libby Dengrove. Dengrove was the sketch artist for WNBC New York from 1972 to 1987. Her tenure coincided with a sharp rise in New York City’s crime rate, and she sketched some of the most noteworthy trials of the late twentieth century. She won two Emmys and was nominated twice more over the course of her career. This exhibit catalogued by topic, including 1,751 we were unable to identify or to link with a particular court case covers both criminal and civil trials – contested wills, Mafia dons, deportation hearings, murder, kidnapping, police brutality, and others. This collection, remarkable in its scope and artistry, offered an unprecedented window into American courtroom proceedings.

In May 1970, the American invasion of Cambodia and the tragic slaying of students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University led to strikes and protests by students on university campuses across the country. University of Virginia students participated in rallies boycotts, and the occupation of administrative buildings. The images in this collection capture the 3000-person rally held on the steps of the Rotunda on Wednesday, May 6, and activities surrounding the rallies, offering a unique insight into the political activism of law students during this time.

This collection provides a portal to investigate the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) through the papers of three members of the prosecution team and one defense counsel member. Informally known as the Tokyo War Crimes trial, the trial lasted two and a half years, from April 29, 1946, to November 12, 1948. In contrast, the far better known international Nuremberg Trial lasted a little less than a year. Our database offers an extensive oneline collection of these materials. Scholars now have access to these primary documents to investigate legal precedence for the international criminal court while general users can learn more about this important but under-studied tribunal.

Forthcoming Collections

A group of UVA law librarians, faculty and alumni have assembled a database of drafting histories from the major post-World War II human rights treaties. Using the published guides to travaux préparatoires and the United Nations’ UNBISNET database, the UVA Law Library has sought to compile fully-searchable, digital copies of as many of the travaux préparatoires as we could find. The database will allow international law scholars, lawyers, and students around the world to study the origins and influences of several key sources of international law.

The 1828 Catalogue Law Books Collection is an ongoing effort of Special Collections at the University of Virginia Law Library. For the past forty years, we have been quietly working to amass the 375 law titles included in the Catalogue, an inventory of books in the University of Virginia Library compiled by University librarian William Wertenbaker. This online collection presents a virtual bookshelf to explore the books we have acquired so far.

The UVa Scottish Papers Collection consists of printed and formerly bound case materials presented before the Scottish Court of Session, the highest civil court in Scotland, from 1759 to 1834. As a court of appeal and of first instance, the Court of Session held jurisdiction over contract and commercial cases, matters of succession and land ownership, divorce proceedings, intellectual property and copyright disputes, and contested political elections.   Despite its seat in Edinburgh, the legal disputes that came before the Court of Session often spanned the Atlantic, and the petitions, memorials, and maps included in this collection offer researchers a rich portal into life and law in the 18th- and 19th-century British empire.  In 2015, the UVa Law Library began a two-year project to catalog and hopefully digitize the approximately 2,000 documents in this Scottish Papers Collection.