Rare Books

See the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog for news on acquisitions, events, and research opportunities.

One of the nation’s premier collections of rare law books is housed in the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Room. The collection is particularly strong in Anglo-American common law materials, including case reports, digests, statutes, trials, treatises, and popular works on the law. Other strengths include Roman and canon law, international law (especially the works of Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf), and early law books from most European countries. Of special interest …

  • The William Blackstone Collection, the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of the published works of Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), author of Commentaries on the Laws of England, the most influential book in the Anglo-American common law tradition. Browse the Blackstone Collection
  • The Founders Collection, books once owned by the founders of the Yale Law School (Seth Staples, Samuel Hitchcock, and David Daggett), that formed the original nucleus of the school’s law library. Browse the Founders Collection
  • Legal manuscripts from the 12th to the 20th centuries, including medieval treatises, English case reports, early American lawyers’ account books, and the largest single collection of student notebooks from the Litchfield Law School. [Note: modern legal manuscript collections are in Manuscripts and Archives, Sterling Memorial Library.]
  • Close to 4,000 published trial accounts, with a special emphasis on American trials.
  • A growing collection of law books with illustrations. See examples in the Rare Book Collection gallery on Flickr.
  • The Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, on deposit since 2006, totaling over 1,600 volumes. Browse the Roman-Canon Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • Italian municipal statutes from the 14th to the 19th centuries, from Amalfi to Zumelle, in 800 printed volumes and 55 manuscripts; probably the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere. See the online exhibit, The Flowering of Civil Law: Early Italian City Statutes in the Yale Law Library, in the Yale Law Library Rare Books Blog.
  • The Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of books and manuscripts on copyright. Browse the Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection
  • The Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection, over 200 law-related children’s books, the gift of the late Morris L. Cohen, Professor Emeritus and Librarian Emeritus, Yale Law School.
  • The 18th-century law libraries of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and John Worthington, an attorney in Springfield, Mass. Browse the Lewis Morris Collection or the John Worthington Collection
  • A large collection of bibliographies and reference works to support research in the collection.

  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: Sterling Law Building, 127 Wall St., Level L2, Room 003
  • Phone: (203) 432-4494
  • Fax: (203) 432-7940
  • E-mail: <mike.widener@yale.edu>
  • Staff: Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian

Using the Collection

The Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Room is open Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Reading Room door is locked at all times, so ring the doorbell to enter. If no one answers, please visit the Circulation Desk on Level L3 to arrange for access, or contact the Rare Book Librarian at (203) 432-4494 or mike.widener@yale.edu to make an appointment. Appointments are strongly recommended.

Yale community members should show a current Yale I.D., visitors should show a picture I.D., and all users must fill out a registration card. Readers may call for books by filling out a call slip and submitting it to a staff member. Pens are not allowed, nor is food or drink. Pencils or laptops may be used for notetaking. Whenever possible, staff will accommodate requests to hold books overnight for readers who are doing extended research. Collection materials cannot be removed from the Reading Room.


Photocopying

Photocopying of rare books is done only by staff, only at the discretion of the staff, and only if it will not cause damage to the book. Readers may make their own photographs of books or manuscripts, if the images are used only for research and if there are no copyright or access restrictions. Special permission is required to publish images of materials in the collection.