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Harvard University: Harvard Law School Library

General Information

Facility: Harvard Law School Library
Address: Langdell Hall
1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA  02138-2903
Phone: (617) 495-3455

About the library:

Harvard Law School was established in 1817, with the promise of a complete law library. A budget for the library was immediately established, and opened by 1820. Originally housed in the office of the University Professor of Law, the collection was moved several times before the south wing of Langdell Hall was specifically constructed to house it in 1907.

The library reorganized in 2009 to meet new strategic initiatives meant to support research and programs of study at Harvard Law School. Functions have been streamlined for greater efficiency at meeting the expanding needs of the library's patrons.

For more information about the Japanese collection of Harvard Law School please consult Mariko Honshuku, Japanese Law Librarian at 617-496-4581.


A collection of digitized scrolls from the Japanese Manuscript Collection, with dates ranging from 1158 to 1591. These documents provide a rare look into the legal transactions of the Heian (平安), Kamakura (鎌倉), Moromachi (諸町), and Momoyama (桃山) periods.

Ames Foundation Digital Law Collection

This is a description and list of all the Ames Foundation-based digitized collections, including:

A collection of catalogs from the academic year 1835/1836 through the 2006/2007 academic year. As a continuous collection, the catalogs are a rich source of information on the history Harvard Law School, its faculty, and its students, as well as Harvard University and the Cambridge area in general.

A composite photograph collection of Harvard Law School's class photographs from 1875 to 2007.

An open-access initiative to digitize Harvard Law School's collection of papers pertaining to the Nuremberg Trials, of which there are approximately one million. Digitized images or full-text editions, as well as descriptions of each document and general information on the trials, are all being created.

Comprised of manuscript materials and photographs, this collection offers researchers detailed insight into the Japanese War Crimes Trials. Joseph B. Keenan, whose correspondence makes up the majority of the collection's manuscript materials, was appointed by President Truman to be lead prosecutor for the Japanese War Crimes Trial.

Summary of Collections

Collection size: as of January 2014 Harvard Law School's collections number over 3,000,000 items of which over 29,000 are in Japanese, including some imporant rare materials.  The Harvard Law School Library collection focuses entirely on legal texts.

Notable collections:

  • Rare Books and Early Manuscripts: containing over 200,000 printed books, pamphlets, and other print material, these collections are primarily focused on Anglo-American materials. However, there is a collection of Japanese books and manuscripts, including early legal manuscripts and books, and is considered one of the finest collections on this topic outside of Japan.

Online Resources

Online case studies intended to help law students learn by placing them in real-life examples of legal cases.

This guide acts as a walkthrough for all the steps of designing, running, and analyzing an empirical legal study. These steps include designing an empirical research study, collecting data, analyzing data, presenting results, and the publication process.

Harvard Law Library faculty and staff have created multiple video tutorials for education and reference regarding the library. These are primarily composed of the General Research Series and the Statutory and Legislative Series, all free for the public to view. However, Harvard notes that databases mentioned in the films may be restricted to authorized individuals.

This guide serves as an introduction to the resources and services available to researchers visiting the Harvard Law Library. It includes information on useful research tools, the library catalog, online services, research guides, library services, and more. It also includes different methods of contacting the library with more specific questions.

Harvard Law Library faculty and staff have developed research guides on a multitude of subjects for use assisting researchers. Topics include international trade, international law research, Chinese legal research, business law, privacy law, United Nations, war crimes, and more.

How to Use the Facility

Admission to the Library

The Harvard Law Library is freely accessible to current Harvard alumni, faculty, staff, and students. Faculty, students, staff, librarians, and researchers affiliated with other accredited academic institutions may apply for admittance for short-term legal research. It is suggested that researchers contact the library via Access Privileges or calling 617-495-3455 three days prior, in case sources are stored offsite. Items may also be requested through the interlibrary loan system.

For information on the admissions process, please consult the admission application.

Electronic Resources

Electronic resources to which the library subscribes are controlled either by IP address or password, requiring users to access it either through an appropriate terminal on the Harvard campus or with a Harvard University ID and password. Please see the Electronic Resources Page for more information.

Printing and Photocopying Services

Printers in the Harvard Law Library are configured to print from computers in their immediate vicinity. Two printers are also configured to print wirelessly from laptops used in the library. To connect a laptop to the wireless network, it needs to be registered and configured. Once the computer is connected to the network, a print client must be installed.

Photocopiers are located throughout the library, and can be used with Crimson Cash, pre-loaded funds on either a Harvard ID or Crimson Cash card. Non-Harvard users may purchase a Crimson Cash card at a VTS machine in the Science Center for the cost of $1. Photocopies cost 10 cents per page.

There are four scanners located in the library, all of which are free to use with clear instructions at each station.

Borrowing Privileges

Borrowing privileges are restricted to current Harvard community members and those with a Fletcher, Officer Dependent, or Spouse Special Borrowers Card. Items may also be requested through the interlibrary loan system.

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
Copyright 2017
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