Rare Books at the University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota Law Library historically (image courtesy of the Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center)

Legal historians of South Asia should put Minneapolis on their list of research hotspots! The Law Library of the University of Minnesota has an astonishing collection of colonial-era law books from India. Among US-based collections, it is up there with the Harvard and Columbia law libraries. I first discovered some of the collection’s gems back in 2010, when I used the colonial law journals to create reference lists  for this website. This past fall, I had the chance to visit again, and to learn more from Library Manager Claire M. Stuckey and Rare Books Curator Ryan Greenwood. Ms. Stuckey has been organizing and cataloging the collection in preparation for the move (for some titles) to Rare Books.

Some special highlights include:

  • Vernacular law reports like the Deccan Law Reports (in Urdu) from princely states like Hyderabad–these are extremely rare;
  • Circular Orders, through which High Courts gave instructions to lower courts in the provincial areas (mofussil)–also very hard to find; and
  • Titles that appear to be the only copies worldwide (on Worldcat) like law reports from Agra, the Sudder Dewanny Adawlut (Calcutta) and the Calcutta High Court during the 1850s-60s–this period is much thinner for published primary sources than the late 19th c. and beyond.

Keep an eye out for these titles as they start to make their appearance on Worldcat. And consider scheduling some research time when in Minneapolis.

Thank you, University of Minnesota Law School, for these preservation efforts!