Special Collections maintains over 80 manuscript collections on the history of legal thought and legal practice. Our collections are particularly strong in American legal history since 1700 featuring collections of papers from Judges and local law practices. Additionally, our holdings also include large international collections, ranging from 17th-century Italian wills to papers of the United Nations
We support the educational mission of the U.Va. Law Library by making these materials accessible for use in research and in teaching. As part of our active digitization program, to date we have digitized over 170,000 items from our manuscript collections and archives. Use our main search page to find specific manuscript items or collections (digital and non-digital) or browse our manuscript finding aids.
Records of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), 1946-1948
The IMTFE, informally known as the Tokyo War Crimes trial, was an international tribunal for trying Japanese officials for war crimes after World War II. This digitized manuscript collection brings together papers from both the prosecution and the defense, including papers for prosecutors Frank S. Tavenner, Jr. (specifically regarding his work on the International Prosecution Section), Roy L. Morgan, and C. J. Phelps and defense counsel G. Carrington Williams.
Benjamin Kissam Ledger and Docket Book, 1755-1776
Benjamin Kissam (1728 – 1782) was a prominent colonial lawyer who trained prospective lawyers, including John Jay, in his office in New York City (Golden Hill). This ledger, which dates from 1755 to 1776, contains detailed accounts of Kissam's clients, family members, and household employees. The docket book records the cases that Kissam handled before the Supreme Court of New York from 1768 to 1775.
Papers of the Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust
In 2000 Special Collections acquired this large collection that traces the production and marketing history of the Dalkon Shield, the intrauterine contraceptive device manufactured and sold by the A.H. Robins Company. These papers detail the A.H. Robins Company's purchase of the Dalkon Shield and the company’s subsequent tort litigation and bankruptcy which was resolved in 1988. The collection also documents the establishment and history of the Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust, 1988-2000, which settled over 218,000 claims.
Special Collections manuscripts are particularly strong in records of late nineteenth and early twentieth century legal practice, and many of these manuscripts came to Special Collections as gifts of U.Va. Law School alumni/ae and faculty. These donations include: the diaries of William Minor Lile; the Prince Edward County Free School Association papers of F.D.G. Ribble; Judge Hardy Cross Dillard's International Court of Justice files; Richard Bonnie's papers concerning the investigation of Soviet psychiatric abuse; and Frank McCulloch's papers on the International Labor Organization. Alumni whose papers are housed in Special Collections include railroad attorney Gordon Buck; Virginia lawyer and lieutenant governor Lewis Preston Collins; Charlottesville lawyer and judge R. T. W. Duke, Jr.; Justice James Clark McReynolds; Roy Morgan's files on Japanese and German internment in Virginia during World War II; the papers of Judge John Paul; Washington lawyer E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr.; and Judge George Revercomb.
- Papers of Roger B. Taney
- Papers of Justice James Clark McReynolds
- Papers of Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1951-1970
- Papers of E. Barrett Prettyman, as clerk at the Supreme Court (1953-1955)
- Papers of Armistead Mason Dobie, 4th Circ. Court of Appeals
- Papers of Judge Pierce Lively, 6th Circ. Court of Appeals
- Papers of Judge D. Butzner (4th Cir. Court of Appeals), on the Special Division of the US Court Appeals for the District of Columbia
- Papers of Judge Edward S. Smith, US Court of Appeals for the Federal District
- Papers of Judge George H. Revercomb, US District Court for the District of Columbia
- Judicial Papers of Judge John Paul, 1930-1964, US District of Court of Western District of Virginia
- Papers of Judge Richard L. Williams, US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Papers of Judge John W. Bissell, US District Court for the District of New Jersey