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Ames Foundation Digital Collection of Legal History

The Harvard Law Library is partnering with the Ames Foundation to create a publicly-available digital library of important materials in legal history. Projects currently available on this site are listed below. The Foundation's massive index of the English Year Books is linked here. A project to index and produce digital images of colonial appeals to the Privy Council is in full development. In addition to providing the capital for these projects, the Foundation also creates finding aids and tools for accessing texts that cannot be searched by normal scanning methods.

Most recently the Foundation has had digital images made of the Commentaria of late medieval canonist Panormitanus (Niccolò de’ Tudeschi [Nicolaus de Tudeschis in Latin], 1386–1445, from the large four volume edition of Venice (1570-1571) in the possession of the Houghton Library. For preliminary metadata for this project (which includes a brief introduction and indexes the contents of the volumes down to the title level) and access to the images click here.

The Foundation has also had digital images made of the six massive volumes of the Corpus Iuris Civilis with the accompanying gloss and commentary printed by Horace Cardon in Lyons in 1604. The construction of metadata for this project is ongoing. Access to what has been done so far and to the images may be obtained by clicking here.

An abridgement of English law, attributed to Nicholas Statham and hence frequently referred to as "Statham's Abridgement," was printed in 1490. Copies are, needless to say, rare. The Ames Foundation has had one of the Library's copies digitized. An introduction and  table of contents may be viewed here with links to the online images.

One of the Library's earliest digitization projects, conducted in partnership with the Ames Foundation, Bracton Online is an example of a re-keying project in which the text of a document (in this case, a book that is considered one of the canonical works in English legal history) is re-typed using word-processing software that results in a searchable text. The online version of Bracton is presented in the original Latin as well as an English translation, both of which are searchable.

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