Special Collections preserves and provides access to a large collection of manuscripts, photographs, rare historical legal texts, and digital research databases on American and international legal history. We also serve as an archive for administrative, photographic, and other historical records of the UVA Law School. We curate exhibits on display at the Law Library and online that tell the history of legal practice and of the UVA Law School.
|Hours:||9am-3pm, Monday- Friday|
|Contact:||Due to Covid-19 precautions, Special Collections is available by special appointment only.|
|Location:||U.Va. Law Library, 3rd Floor|
|580 Massie Rd., Charlottesville, VA 22903|
The main offices for Special Collections are on the third floor of the Law Library. Here, researchers can review materials from our collections in our main reading room (WB303), which is equipped with electrical outlets for laptops and access to the UVA wireless network.
Adjacent to our reading room is our Rare Book Room. This climate-controlled facility houses our 10,000-item rare book collection and a small selection of our historical manuscripts. Items stored in the Rare Book Room whose physical condition is good enough for research can be retrieved for immediate use during our daily operating hours. On our website and in Virgo their location will be listed as SC-Oversized. Many of our historical manuscripts are kept at Ivy Stacks, an offsite storage facility managed by the University of Virginia Library System. This newly renovated, climate-controlled building located 2 miles from Central Grounds holds valuable but lightly used items from all of the UVA libraries. Items stored at Ivy Stacks are listed in Virgo and on our website as Offsite and must be ordered through the Law Library Archivist (firstname.lastname@example.org) prior to visiting Special Collections. Ivy Stacks materals take two business days to arrive at Law Special Collections once requested.
Special Collections also maintains an archival storage facility in the basement of the Law Library where we house additional historical manuscripts, especially those that pertain to the history of the UVA Law School. These items are listed on our website with location SC-Basement and can be retrieved for same-day research at the Special Collections reading room. Special Collections staff process and catalog new collections in our work space on the third floor and also in our larger processing room on the second floor of the Law Library. We operate a busy digitization studio on the third floor adjacent to the main Special Collections reading room.
Digital Collections Librarian. Loren leads the library's efforts to develop online research tools and to promote, create, and preserve its digital collections as well as acting as the Library's Systems Liaison to the main library system. Loren received his bachelor's in English and American studies from Kalamazoo College in 2004 and earned a Ph.D. in History at the University of Virginia in 2014, studying Federal Housing Policy, Gender, and American Political Development. He has served as the director of the Project for Technology in History Education at the University of Virginia's Corcoran Department of History, the technology coordinator for UVA's Digital Classroom Initiative, and project programmer for the Virginia Center for Digital History.
Archivist, Special Collections. Cecilia has been in charge of processing and preserving manuscript collections since 1993. She studied history at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and co-authored El Territorio Mexicano.
Special Collections Librarian. Randi supports research in the Library’s archival, rare book, and digital collections, and she manages projects that preserve and exhibit the law school's institutional history. She received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia in 2014 with a focus on the politics and global geography of trade in the early American republic. She has served as a fellow in digital humanities at the UVA Law Library and at the UVA Scholars’ Lab, and in 2016-17 served as a Kundrun Postdoctoral Fellow at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. She is completing a book, Maritime Frontier: Early American Merchants and the Commercial Republic, 1760-1830.
Meggan Farish Cashwell
Horatio and Florence Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Legal History. Meggan Farish Cashwell is a postdoctoral research associate in legal history for UVA Law Special Collections. She is researching and making accessible the library’s forthcoming edited history of legal education at the Law School. Cashwell received her Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 2019 with an emphasis on legal culture, violence, and community formation in the early American republic. Before coming to UVA, she worked as a researcher, archivist, and exhibit curator. Her career includes projects at institutions such as the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Museum of Durham History, Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina, and the Waccamaw Center for Cultural and Historical Studies.
Digitization, in tandem with Access and Preservation, broadens and strengthens the Library's mission. To expand access to our archival collections of the greatest value to scholars and the Law School communtiy, the Law Library over the past ten years has prioritized the creation of digital content alongside our ongoing efforts to catalog and process print collections. As resources permit, we have invested in equipment and staff training that enable us to digitize selections from our diverse collections and make these materials available for open-access, online research.
Digitization, Equipment, and Standards
Our digitization efforts have greatly expanded in the past decade. The Law Library has proudly established a full-featured digitization studio which can process and digitize most archival documents.
The overhead camera system features a Hasselblad H4D 60 megapixel digital back mounted to a movable rig, allowing archivists to change the resolution of the images. This setup allows the library to very quickly scan A3 size images up to 600 dpi. The RAW images are processed using Hasselblad's Phocus software. This software deskews and crops each image, then in a single batch process saves the master TIF files in our networked image staging area as well preparing web-deliverable JPGs for ingest into our online catalog.
The library recently put in place an Atiz Bookdrive Mark2 book scanner fitted with dual Canon EOS T5. This system allows us to scan our rare books and other bound archival documents as impressive speeds a meeting preservation standards. We scan our books at 400 dpi, process most though OCR using ABBYY, and publish web-deliverable PDFs to our online archives.
Negative / Slide Scanner
The library utilizes a Plustek OpticFilm 120 negative scanner. This scanner has proven remarkably efficient and capable, digitizing over 30,000 negatives in two years. It has allowed us to uncover remarkable images from the Law School's history, most importantly negatives from the Virginia Law Weekly that have languished unseen for decades. We scan these 35mm negatives at 24-bit, 4000 pixels along the negatives long edge.
The library utilizes a Plustek OpticFilm 120 negative scanner. This scanner has proven remarkably efficient and capable, digitizing over 30,000 negatives in two years. It has allowed us to uncover remarkable images from the Law School's
The Law Library's Digital Collections believes strongly in promoting the advancement of knowledge through open access to our digital collections, to our procecures, and to the technologies we develop for the preservation and dissemination of our collections.
For the vast majority of our digital collections, we provide access to the digital files under a Creative Commons (CC BY 4.0) license making our materials freely available with minimal restrictions. We believe digitization is a powerful tool for enhancing access to the materials within our archives and also encourages their use within innovative research methods and analytical technologies.
University of Virginia Law Library Special Collections is a Drupal shop. Drupal powers our collections management, our preservation workflow, our rich metadata description of digital objects, our document indexing, our discovery interfaces, and our online exhibitions. We appreciate and rely on the efforts of the community of users and developers who constantly improve the usability, power, and security of open-source software like Drupal. We are committed to engaging with and contributing to that community. Our staff are regular Drupal ambassadors to the library community, showcasing the flexibility, affordability, and power Drupal offers to libraries and archives.
Supporting and promoting new research is at the heart of our misssion as a legal history archive. As scholars and librarians, Special Collections staff provide reference services for our collections, work to ensure that our materials are discoverable and accessible to a broad audience of researchers, and produce our own scholarship and historical exhibits using the Law Library's deep archival collections.
Digital Humanities Fellowship
As digital tools and data analysis grow in their importance to faculty research and teaching, the UVA Law Library now hosts the Horatio and Florence Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow of Digital Humanities aimed at fostering collaboration between the librarians who build digital research tools and the scholars who use them. Since the Law Library began funding this multi-year postdoctoral position in 2011, two historians have served adjoining terms as Library Fellows. Both have worked closely with the Library’s Digital Collections Librarian to enable new scholarly research in the Library’s digitized collections and produce new scholarship using materials from the law school archives.
Special Collections staff partner with UVA Law faculty to support their research and teaching in any way that we can. In recent years, one of the Library’s most vigorous initiatives has been the development of print and digital archival collections that directly support research at the law school and within the broader scholarly community. We collaborate with law faculty in conjunction with the library’s empirical research team to create and aggregate new datasets, and we create websites to disseminate faculty research, preserve faculty publications, and facilitate instruction. Special Collections staff also assist with more traditional faculty and administration research needs by providing access to manuscript collections and archival documents relating to the history of legal theory and practice and the history of the UVA law school. We manage image selection and obtain image use permissions for faculty book and publication projects.
Special Collections staff create and curate multiple exhibitions throughout the Law Library. In 2014 we installed a large new exhibit on the history of the UVA Law School in the entry way of the Library using materials from the Law School Archives. That same year, we uncovered a rich trove of images on UVA student demonstrations in 1970 in which many UVA law participants protested the shootings at Kent State and the invasion of Cambodia. Selected images from this photograph collection are now on display on the second floor of the Law Library as part of our “1970 May Day Protests” exhibit. In 2015, we curated an exhibit of Scottish Court of Session papers currently on display throughout the Law Library. Special Collections staff also handle the digitization and storage of all materials for the Law Library’s annual art show.