Tag Archives: Open access

The wealth of sources: comparing legal history databases

On April 23, 2012 Dan Ernst alerted at the Legal History Blog to the report by Mitch Fraas on legal history databases for the Center of Research Libraries (CRL). Fraas compares in his brief report the contents, range and accessibility of sources for legal history available in a number of major databases which can be accessed by subscribers and subscribing libraries. The theme of open access has figured here already a few times. Perhaps due to the sheer number of posts at the admirable Legal History Blog Dan Ernst’s post and the report by Mitch Fraas (University of Pennsylvania Libraries) have thus far not received due attention. Fraas makes some comments about finding documents and archival records outside the main databases for legal history that call for reflection and reactions.

This report gives me a most welcome opportunity to deal at last with these commercial databases which I have so far kept at a safe distance. Until now I have included them nor here nor at my website. Is it wise to want to have as much as possible in subscribers-only databases? To who belong the sources for the history of nations, for the development of law, legal institutions and jurisprudence, and the records of the actual application of law in courts and elsewhere? Is the intervention of commercial firms absolutely necessary to make online access possible? Are we simply facing a dilemma or are there several ways to obtain maximum accessibility at comparatively low costs? Fraas is a specialist in Anglo-Indian legal history, but he brings the Indian perspective only as a second thought. The very least I can do here is pointing to a blog which serves a portal to India’s legal history. I will also look at the digital collections provided by the Center for Research Libraries, both for subscribing institutions and in open access.

Commercial databases for legal history

Until now my main impression of commercial legal databases was that they serve primarily the field of current law. Depending on the country you live in they tend to focus on jurisprudence, laws and statutes. Legal history seemed to figure only as an offspring of these databases. My impression of a rather closed environment was perhaps rather unluckily fortified by the website Constitutions of the World where for non-subscribing visitors only facsimiles of constitution come into view. The guide on Scottish legal history by Yasmin Morais at Globalex, a website with guides to the legal systems of many countries where her fine guide is the only one dealing with history, adds to an impression of legal history as a subject lost between modern developments. The readers of this blog and my website or of any other worthwhile website on legal history know this picture is not correct. Legal history is very much alive!

If you do not deal on a daily business with Anglo-American law you might be excused in guessing LexisNexis, HeinOnline, WestLaw e tutti quanti present only the materials for contemporary lawyers and law students. The resources guide of an average American law school allots much space to the products of these firms, and a number of schools can add regularly new databases or functionality for existing systems to the variety of resources available for users on and off campus. History comes into view already because of the need in a number of legal systems to be able to search for precedents. Thus legal systems with a tendency to focus on case-law or – phrasing it for Anglo-American law – taking a lead from the principle of stare decisis, inherit a vital connection to the past for present-day use. The drawback is the daily temptation to view this historical connection as a useful handmaid of the present, and not much more. In American law case-law currently gets its specific importance also from the way the constitution comes into view.

A useful comparison

Logo CRL

You might wonder why I included the paragraph here above, but at least it helped me in being more aware of my prejudices against commercial legal databases. Let’s go now quickly to the concise report by Mitch Fraas. He looks at a wide range of sources: published case reports, trials, statutes and laws, general legal literature, and other legal materials. For each category he compares the resources offered to subscribers by LLMC-Digital, HeinOnline, Gale and other firms with resources freely accessible online. Very soon it becomes clear that sources for the United States and the United Kingdom are very well served in these commercial projects. Part of the report is a very useful links selection of both subscription databases and open access resources. Fraas notes that the CRL, too, makes many of its subscription databases available through LLMC-Digital. The report ends with conclusions which you can use as a kind of rough guide to digitized resources for doing legal history on subjects touching the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Fraas has written a more extensive report on LLMC-Digital to which he has added an overlap analysis with comparable providers and a report on the coverage of countries within LLMC-Digital.

At the very end of his report Fraas looks beyond materials for American and British legal history. Sources for the history of the British Empire are also included in the databases under discussion. Fraas himself is a specialist of Anglo-Indian legal history, the theme of his personal blog. His current research is concerned with Privy Council appeals in the early colonial period, i.e. the eighteenth century. For the legal history of India, too, Fraas indicates a search strategy for using digitized sources. To me he seems unnecessary modest in not mentioning his own blog and the sources he has made available himself. He advises researchers to start first with the subscription databases before visiting the various websites which deal with Indian law. It would have been easy to add the guide to these websites provided by Mitra Sharafi (University of Wisconsin) on her splendidly useful blog on Indian legal history.

In a comment on Fraas’ report at the Legal History Blog Fred Shapiro mentions the oversight of Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources. I guess it is the very variety of projects within Gale’s Making of Modern Law series that has caused this omission, but this is certainly a major resource. Today I noticed another blog Mitch Fraas has recently started, Unique at Penn, a blog for the University of Pennsylvania Libraries about its holdings. Compared to the average online library guide to digital resources for legal history Fraas’ report stands out because he indicates strengths and weaknesses of these resources and points to strategies for their use.

What else has the Center for Research Libraries in stock for legal historians? The CRL website gives an overview of the digital collections created by CRL. LLMC-Digital is among them, and most of them are only open to subscribers. Here I will briefly mention the resources in open access which have some relation to legal history. The Digital South Asia Library, a joint project of CRL and the University of Chicago Library, is not only a digital library but also a portal for South Asian Studies. Among the digitized reference books is the Imperial Gazetteer of India. The Digital Library for International Research contains the Digital Legal Texts of Outer Mongolia, created for the American Center for Mongolian Studies in Ulanbator. The collection Brazil Government Documents, too, is freely accessible online. Of interest is also the collection Chinese Pamphlets: Political Communication and Mass Education with pamphlets published between 1947 and 1954. In my latest post figured the nineteenth-century Slavery and Manumission Manuscripts of Timbuktu. The digital collection with pamphlets and periodicals of the French Revolution in 1848 has also figured here in an earlier post. CRL provides more research guides, for example on human rights and medieval studies. At the CRL website you can find also reviews of major commercial digitization projects, for instance of World Constitutions Illustrated, with again a useful list of online resources, both for subscribers only and in open access.

Open access or subscription, an eternal dilemma?

Some of my readers would like me to vote clearly for the creation of open access digital resources as the sole way to provide scholars with adequate access to their preferred digitized resources. I simply cannot decide this within the space of one post. I am certainly concerned about the monopolizing tendency of a number of firms which gain sizeable profits from the digitization projects they maintain in cooperation with national libraries and prestigious research institutions. In principle national libraries have a task not only for scholars or for a nation but for the common good. It seems many institutions follow both the road of projects financed and possibly tapped to some extent by commercial firms, and the road of their own projects, sometimes in collaboration with partner institutions in other countries. Libraries are probably wise not to exclude commercial collaborations, but when access to digitized materials concerning the cultural or legal inheritance of nations and peoples is severely restricted, it seems they do not fulfill their mission as completely as they should.

One should be aware how difficult it is to take decisions in the face of budget cuts. Libraries, museums and archives have to adapt themselves to the chances and threats of the digital revolution. They face pitfalls and dead-ends, they are sometimes surprised by the very success of other projects. Every now and them it is even hard to discern at all between failure and success. They cannot bet on one horse, be it the glory of independent projects which distract from the very high costs sometimes involved, be it as a more anonymous contributor to commercially safe projects which do not exhaust their own budgets. In my opinion the firms with the subscription databases should give the contributing institutions more credit for their trust and for their policies which have resulted in the very creation of the collections being digitized. Is there no lawyer who can develop a legal construction which sets for example a ten years limit to the profits gained by these firms from digitizing objects which are in the public domain? On the other hand one has to acknowledge some firms invest at least some of the profits gained from their subscription databases in the field of current law into projects for scholars and the general public interested in culture and history.

It is easy to create a caricature of reality with a simple distinction between the good, the bad and the ugly. Some open access projects are distinctly ugly, in particular those with institutional stamps on images. In my view it would help to have more insight into the arguments which favor in one case open access, in another case cooperation with a publishing company. In earlier posts I could already show that the sheer number of items or the degree of familiarity of objects is not necessarily the decisive factor. Today’s wisdom can be tomorrow’s foolishness. State of the art technology can quickly become outdated. The position of libraries in the field of scholarly information can change rapidly and make current constellations inadequate for the future. The report discussed here deals with American and British legal history. It will be most interestingly to create similar reports for other fields of legal history.

A postscript

At the back of my mind remained the question where to find a guide to free online materials concerning American law. Recently Harvard Law School Library published an online guide for this purpose, not only for American resources, but also covering foreign and international law.

Historical British newspapers at a price

Logo The British Newspaper ArchiveIn the midst of all activities around Christmas the British Library has launched a massive digital collection, the British Newspaper Archive. You might think that in 2012 I would have found a message about its launch in a tweet, but I stumbled upon it without using the digital tool for this virtual activity. Within a minute it became crystal clear that you can have here “history at your finger tips” as the blurb on the site puts it, depending of course on your specific search, but then the signs appear that you have to pay to view the contents you have just found. As for the search possibilities, the advanced search mode should satisfy the most exacting scholars. The free trial is very meagre, just a few pages, so you might grudgingly decide not everything valuable comes free. You have to pay to use this wonderful Christmas present to its full extent. The British Library has licensed a commercial firm to receive money for this project which surely has costed a lot of money, for you will find scores of newspapers, some of them starting in the early eighteenth century, up to more recent times. For £ 79,95 a year you can have your own private subscription. Having the riches in front of you as colourful thumbnails but not being able to view them in full size is a tantalizing experience.

Lately I had the chance to use a number of digitized Dutch newspapers, for instance in the post on the Hoorn Pie Trial. It made me more aware of the uses you can make of these sources both as a general historian and as a legal historian. I take the example of these Dutch newspapers not only to give this post a Dutch flavor, but to show you more closely what you can find using digitized newspapers. The British Library and this new digital archive stand out from other digital newspaper archives, because it is really rare to find paying digitized historic newspaper websites.

Paying for digitized British sources

In fact more British examples of paying historical websites can be given. Last year I wrote in a post briefly about the project 19th Century British Pamphlets Online, where you are allowed to search the catalogue with more than 20,000 items from seven British research institutions. The pamphlets themselves, however, can be only be viewed at subscribing institutions. At the British Cartoon Archive, an example closely associated with newspapers, £ 25 is charged for each image that you want to get in its full quality. Some English archives with digitized collections from their medieval holdings charge you for the use of digital images. An example for medieval canon law are the Cause Papers in the diocesan courts of the archbishopric of York, 1300-1858. The University of York has finished the digitization and is now adding them to the inventory. Perhaps this will bring a change in the way one can access these materials.

Is it the sheer scope and scale and the investments involved in these admittedly large projects that led the institutions involved to choose for commercial or semi-commercial solutions? I would have to be more familiar with current English copyright law, but to me it seems that newspapers before 1900 at least are out of copyright. For me it is clear that a convincing explanation is needed why a national library allows you to use many digital sources freely, but makes an exception for newspapers. If the answer is a plain need of money, this would be the start of an honest and full response.

Historical newspapers online in Britain and elsewhere

As my point of depart in this post I will take the overview of online old newspapers at European History Primary Sources, a portal to commented online sources for European history maintained at the European University Institute in Florence. The most simple general search for newspapers yields some ninety digital collections, almost all of them in public and free access. Luckily the overview indicates also some British websites with historical newspapers which can be viewed in open access. At first a surprise is British Newspapers online, a project again at the British Library where you can use four newspapers freely for at least a limited time span, to be more precisely, the Manchester Guardian (1851, 1856, 1886), the Daily News (1851, 1856, 1886, 1900, 1918), the News of the World (1851, 1856, 1886, 1900, 1918), and the Weekly Dispatch (1851, 1856, 1886, 1900, 1918). Here you might at least try to compare the coverage of events in some particular interesting years. The four newspapers are also available through British Newspapers 1800-1900, the earlier subscribers’ only project of the British Library with 49 historical local and national newspapers. However, the Penny Illustrated Paper and The Graphic can be viewed free of charge. The websites Gazettes Online brings you to the London Gazette, the Edinburgh Gazette and the Belfast Gazette, but their official character sets them apart from normal newspapers.

Some British newspapers have made a selection from their historical archive. Guardian Century is not a complete archive of the period 1899-1999, but merely a selection of the main new items from each year. The digital archive of The Scotsman for the period 1817-1950 gives you full search possibilities, and a number of short – even for one day – and longer subscription options. To set the record straight for the British isles, the Irish Times offers a digital archive for the period 1859-2009 where you get the first lines of each result, but for more you have to pay four times as much for a yearly subscription at the British Newspaper Archive. For such an amount of money you had better subscribe to the services of the Irish Newspapers Archives with fourteen newspapers. At a server of the Lafayette University, Louisiana, is the index to the Belfast News-Letter from 1737 to 1800, which can help your searches on Irish matters.

The thirst for in-depth knowledge of a city as important as London is of course stronger than ever, not just for lovers of London and visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games, but also for legal historians since the appearance of London Lives 1690 to 1800. Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis, a website with a very large number of digitized documents, among them a substantial number of criminal records and coroner records. The coroner was and is the official charged with inquiries into unnatural deaths. A prime example of a recent British history project which should hold great interest because of the way various kinds of records and perspectives are combined is Connected Histories, a portal with sources for British history between 1500 and 1900. The York Cause Papers are according to this website freely accessible, but the restriction on the images is noted in the main text. London Lives, too, is a part of Connecting Histories, as are the Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674-1913. By chance I misremembered the title of this gateway and thus found the website Connecting Histories, an educational project on the history of Birmingham.

Connected Histories gives also more information about British Newspapers 1600-1900. This project consisted of two subprojects at the British Library of which we already met the first. The other project concerned the digitization of newspapers from the seventeenth and eighteenth century in the Burney Collection.

In the project Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (NSCE) of Kings’ College London, the British Library and other institutions you can consult freely six English periodicals from the nineteenth century, which will help somewhat to redress the balance between subscribers’ only and freely accessible digital newspaper archives in the United Kingdom, as do the six journals digitized by the Bodleian Library, Oxford. The links and projects selection at NCSE is particular useful. The project Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical helps you to find views on science in a large number of general periodicals from Victorian England. For both newspapers and periodicals the Waterloo Directory to British Newspapers and Periodicals 1800-1900 offers online guidance.

A page of the Dutch Startpagina web directory is concerned with historical newspapers and gives an overview of online newspaper archives from many countries. Most of the British examples mentioned here figure in this overview, and these from also a section on a similar page of this directory about current British newspapers.

Dutch historic newspapers

Getting access to digitized old Dutch newspapers is in all cases I have seen until now a free service. Current newspapers do charge a fee for full access to the digital version and to their archives, but older editions are available for free at an increasing number of special websites. The largest project is an initiative at the Dutch Royal Library, Historische Kranten. Here appears gradually a large selection of national, regional and local newspapers from 1618 to 1995. At this moment you will find already a number of seventeenth and eighteenth century newspapers, and much more from later times until 1945. For some national newspapers the regional editions, too, have been digitized, mainly the issues during the Second World War. The Royal Library give a useful overview of major initiatives in countries such as Belgium, France, Austria, Australia and the United States, and a selection of Dutch regional projects. For Dutch colonial history one has to single out the Indonesian Newspapers Project at the Dutch Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies for the digitization of newspapers in Malayan from the former Dutch Indies.

Dutch regional and local newspapers are being digitized by a number of archives. This approach is completely absent in the United Kingdom. You must forgive me not to include here a full list of digitized newspapers because the number is very large. The overview of digitized historical newspapers at Startpagina puts Dutch newspapers in order by province. The Gazette de Leyde made available at the French website Gazettes européennes du 18e siècle is by mistake listed as the “Leiden Staatsblad”, but this gazette was not an official publication. Newspapers from the Second World War are mentioned separately, and there is even a list of not yet digitized newspapers. The reference to the Oprechte Haerlemse Courant is to a website concerned with the announcements in this seventeenth-century newspaper which refer often to the Dutch book trade.

A few examples: the archives in Utrecht have for example digitized the Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad for the years 1893 until 1897. You can view in detail the pages of this newspaper, but you cannot download them due to an agreement with its publishers. For Leiden the Digitaal Krantenarchief of the Regional Archives Leiden gives you access to twelve newspapers, including the local version of the national newspaper Trouw and the short-lived Zuidhollandsch Dagblad. The Leidsche Courant (1720-1890 and from 1909 onwards) and the Leidsch Dagblad (1860-) do refer of course very often to Leyden University. I found even notices celebrating the anniversaries of doctoral degrees.

The value of old newspapers and the costs of historic culture

Is the current debate about the costs of digitization really the debate it should be? Is it sensible to restrict it to matters like the role of subventions by the government to relevant projects, the wish to establish national cultural institutions as independent players in the culture market with a duty to find their own sponsors and sources for income? Is it perhaps also a debate which you cannot restrict to claims for free access to the national and international cultural heritage at one end of the spectrum, and at the other end claims on property rights to digital images created by photographers and media departments? In my view this issue raises also questions about the freedom to get information from the government and governmental institutions. Which values do we cherish when we talk about history or cultural heritage? Who are to benefit from digitization projects, be it fur current official information and digital records management for administrative purposes or for historic records: the general public, the exasperated taxpayers with their respective national nicknames, children receiving education, scholars doing research?

The British Library tries to give its British Newspapers project a new lifespan with the British Newspaper Archive. I cannot help noticing that this same library has belatedly made available online in open access a fair number of its priceless manuscripts, but asks a price for old issues of a medium of which the proverb says that today’s newspaper will serve next day to pack fish and eggs. Historic newspapers offer a fascinating perspective on views, opinions and blind spots, and shows both the conventional and the seemingly irregular. What once seemed ephemeral can become invaluable for the historian, and for anyone wishing to understand humans and their lives in past centuries. My hat tip for giving on December 23, 2011, a very early and extensive notice about the British Newspaper Archive goes to the website of an Italian encyclopedia.

A postscript

In this post I made a short remark about the presence of images at the website for the York Cause Papers. Images are now indeed being added to the cases in the database. Until now I saw only images for cases from the sixteenth century. Here open access has got the upper hand.

When revisiting the digital newspaper archive of the Regional Archives Leiden (RAL) it came to my notice that this project has a conflict with an organization representing the rights of authors. In September 2011 the RAL decided to remove newspapers printed from 1941 onwards as a perhaps all too submissive precautionary action. I had yet not been aware of this conflict, because in early January I could check newspapers after 1945.

Rivista di Diritto Ellenico, a new e-journal for ancient Greek law

A few days ago the French legal history blog Nomôdos, the twin sister of the e-journal Clio@Themis, announced the first issue of the Rivista di Diritto Ellenico, a journal devoted to the study of ancient Greek law.

Logo Rivista di Diritto Ellenico This new journal is edited by scholars at Torino, Isernia and Verona. The Rivista di Diritto Ellenico is published in open access, but there is a connection with the publishing firm Edizioni dell’Orso in Alessandria. The first issue of the Rivista di Diritto Ellenico contains eleven articles and seven book reviews. The translation in Italian of an article from 1963 by Hans-Julius Wolff, ‘Verjährung von Ansprüchen nach Attischen Recht’, is a service which could very well be inspired by the translation into French of classic articles in each issue of Clio@Themis. All contributions in the first issue are in Italian. However, the editors invite authors to submit articles in Italian, English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish and modern Greek. You can send email to the editors at this address.

In the section Rara et dissertationes you will find digitized versions of articles and theses which are difficult to trace; at this moment you will find just two items. The Foglio Giusgrecistico is the news bulletin of the review, with announcements of conferences and details on the contents of new publications. The section Collana announces the republication of Diritto greco antico by Arnaldo Biscardi (Milano 1982). In the links section you can download either as a PDF or as a text document a useful commented list of links for the study of ancient Greek law.

The creation of a new platform for scholars working in the field of legal history is an enterprise for which the founders need great courage, stamina and discernment. The choice for an e-journal in open access seems a promising one. Let’s hope the editors and all people involved with the Rivista di Diritto Ellenico succeed in making this new e-journal a success!

A new journal about legal history: Historia et Ius

A few months ago I included the Italian portal Storia del diritto medievale e moderno in my comparison of independent portals for legal history. This Italian portal was launched earlier this year, at the same as the new Dutch portal Rechtsgeschiedenis.org. In fact I even announced the launch of both sites in a post.

This weekend the team behind the Italian site led by Paolo Alvazzi del Frate (Università Roma Tre) sent a message with a call for papers for a new e-journal, Historia et Ius. The new journal is integrated with the portal site: behind the button “Rivista” you will find Historia et Ius. The redaction invites in the call for papers – thoughtfully provided in Italian, French and English – authors to submit their contributions for the first issue due to be published on July 1, 2012 before February 29, 2012. Articles may be written in Italian, French, English, German or Spanish.

The quality of this new journal will not only depend on the weight of the board of editors and reviewers, but surely first and foremost on the quality of the contributions to be published. You can submit your papers to the e-mail address info@historiaetius.eu. Tanti auguri per Historia et Ius!

For your eyes only? Legal history and some new digital libraries

This year I have published a number of posts about digital libraries. In my latest contribution on Dutch digital libraries I expressed my wish to write here more often about archival records and museums. It goes against the grain to write again about some digital libraries. However, by sheer coincidence three digital libraries have been launched in a short time span which all deal with materials in Dutch libraries. The Dutch Royal Library in The Hague has partnered with ProQuest in their project Early European Books: Printed Sources to 1700, and this library is also present in Brill’s Early Modern Pamphlets Online. Pamphlets held at Groningen University Library, are present, too, in this project, as are the German pamphlets microfilmed earlier on in the series Flugschriften des 16. Jahrhunderts. Last month the University Library at Groningen launched a new subdomain for their digital collections. Each of these three digital collections contain materials relevant to legal historians. Bringing them together in one post seemed a sensible thing to do.

There is a significant difference and an equally important similarity between each of the projects of the Dutch Royal Library and the digitized collections at Groningen. The University of Groningen presents one set of collections in open access, but this library has just as the Royal Library decided also to start a partnership with a firm which allows only restricted access to the collections they have digitized. Only at subscribing libraries or as holder of a library card of the Dutch Royal Library you can view this digitized pamphlets collection. When I checked this collection today using my Royal Library card I could not find at first the digital pamphlet collection in the overview of online databases at the homepage of the Royal Library. In fact it was thanks to the marvellous page on book history that I noticed the project for the digitization of these pamphlets. The books of the Royal Library digitized for Early European Books can be viewed freely within the Netherlands, but not elsewhere.

Some questions about access

Why keeping a number of digital collections within control of the holding library, and putting other collections on a kind of island which remains at the horizon, within sight but out of reach, a treasure room to be unlocked only for those who pay or have access to it at subscribing libraries? I realize quite well the Dutch Royal Library holds a rather large pamphlet collection (34,000), Groningen has some 2,800 pamphlets. I am equally aware that I am not the first to point out this difference which can look almost incomprehensible at a distance. The sheer number of items to digitized has not deterred Groningen University from creating an extensive digital repository with for legal historians interesting things like dissertations defended at the Law Faculty of Groningen and on another server a growing number of historical maps. Issues starting from 1999 of the legal history journal Groninger Opmerkingen en Mededelingen are freely accessible online, too. On the new website for digital collections at Groningen you can find 127 fragments of papyri. You can read – in Dutch – about some of them also on De wereld aan boeken (The world in books), the book blog of the Department of Special collections of Groningen University Library. By the way, Bifolium is the digital version of the news bulletin on manuscripts and rare books edited at Groningen. Updates are rather infrequent since the death of Jos M.M. Hermans, but the contributions of the new editorial team are certainly worth checking.

No doubt questions of budget, of digitizing more quickly by partnering with a publisher, and growing experience with digital collections and their maintenance play a significant role in the choices made by the two libraries in question to choose different ways for some of their collections. Still one can ask why not putting the famous Knuttel pamphlet collection of the Dutch Royal Library at Europeana, to mention just one of the projects in which this library plays a large and even eminent role? A quick search at Europeana yields at least 28 pamphlets held at The Hague, and they can be searched also using the Memory of the Netherlands portal. Pamphlets of national libraries form a part, too, of the digital collections accessible at the European Library, yet another possibility for virtual presentation of the Dutch pamphlets. for libraries it is perhaps also a question of playing several cards: in the past a number of digitization projects has had only a limited success or has simply failed. It was probably a successful example that helped guiding the decisions taken at The Hague and Groningen. Between 2002 and 2009 19th Century British Pamphlets Online realized the cataloguing and digitizing of some 23,000 items from seven British institutions. The project website provides you with a pamphlets catalogue, but the pamphlets themselves are only fully accessible through JSTOR.

Pamphlets and legal history

Pamphlets is the bibliographical term for short unbound treatises on any subject which is currently under discussion or cries out for comment or protest. I paraphrase here one of the most used modern definitions. The UNESCO definition of a pamphlet contains the additional criterion of a maximum length of 48 pages: “A pamphlet is a non-periodical printed publication of at least 5 but not more than 48 pages, exclusive of the cover pages, published in a particular country and made available to the public”. On my blog broadsides, one-page pamphlets, featured in the summer post on legal history in lyrics.

After my remarks about free and restricted access it is time to have a closer look at the projects under discussion. Early European Books comes with a multilingual user interface in English, Dutch, Danish and Italian. The bibliographical information on books is reinforced by using information on printers and printing history from the CERL Thesaurus and OCLC references which are used for WorldCat. You can view books either as web pages or download them in the PDF format. Interestingly you will find among the few digitized books concerning law and justice from the Royal Library almost exclusively pamphlets, and not just Dutch pamphlets. There is a French arrêt from the Parlement of Paris (Paris 1598; Pflt. 1012), a Dutch version (Middelburg 1584; Pflt. 715) of The execution of Iustice in England for maintenancee of publique and Christian peace by William Cecil Lord Burghley, two sentences by the scabini of Leiden (Leiden 1598; Pflt. 1035 and 1037), a confession of an attempt to assassinate Maurice of Orange (Utrecht 1594; Pflt. 918), a pamphlet demonstrating the rights of the States of Holland (Rotterdam 1587; Pflt. 791).

In Early Modern Pamphlets Online you will find already nearly 400 Dutch pamphlets when you search with the subject ‘Law’. Research for Dutch legal history for the period of the Dutch Republic and the Holy Roman Empire can benefit greatly from this source collection. One of the few quibbles are the lack of an advanced search interface and the black and white instead of color. Both collections contain all kind of pamphlets, many of them with contemporary illustrations, which makes them more than just textual sources.

The 127 Papyri Groninganae are really the only sources of primary interest for legal history at the new website for digital collections at the library of the University of Groningen, but everyone studying Dutch political developments or the advancement of science in the eighteenth century should look at the digitized letters of philosopher François Hemsterhuis (1721-1790). The papyri at Groningen cover a wide range of subjects, including legal matters. You can browse collections, choose the form of presentation of the items, build your own advanced search by adding search fields at will, and view almost everything in full color, as is the case for Early European Books, too.

More pamphlets for legal history

When writing this post I found I had overlooked some free accessible digital pamphlet collections for the page on Dutch legal history of my blog. To prevent complaints about not being able to see any Dutch pamphlets because of the restricted access policy I will say something more about these Dutch collections. From the pages of my website I have created a list of digitized pamphlets collections worldwide, not without adding some recent findings, thus saving you some time to bring them together.

Within the digital collections of Utrecht University Library a whole section is devoted to pamphlets. Until now nearly 800 pamphlets have been digitized. Under the modest title Utrechtse pamfletten you will find also publications from outside Utrecht and the Low Countries. The collection is accompanied by a short essay in Dutch on the definition of a pamphlet with ample reference to George Orwell’s views which led to the commonly excepted modern definition.

At Nijmegen the Center for Catholic Documentation has digitized a collection of 99 pamphlets from 1853 with protests against the re-establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in the Netherlands. After the definitive coming of the Reformation from 1580 onwards the Northern Netherlands had been an apostolic vicariate. As the Dutch government confirmed the erection of new dioceses in 1853 a national movement of distressed protestants grew quickly, but this protest by many members of the Dutch elite was in vain.

At the portal for the Memory of the Netherlands you can search for some 1,000 digitized pamphlets from the Second World War and a few hundred pamphlets written by Multatuli, the pseudonym of the Dutch writer Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887), famous for Max Havelaar, his graphic novel from 1860 about the Dutch exploitation of the Indonesian archipelago and his inflammatory writings about many other subjects, including the Dutch political and legal system. Multatuli lost the case about the copyright on his novel, recently studied by Ika Sorgdrager, Dik van der Meulen and Jan Bank, ‘Ik heb u den Havelaar niet verkocht’. Multatuli contra Van Lennep [“I did not sell you the Havelaar”. Multatuli against Van Lennep] (Amsterdam 2010).

And to conclude this post a list of digitized pamphlet collections – in alphabetical order by country – with particular interest for legal historians, all of them freely accessible:

The last digital collection reminds me of repeating my promise to write about major phenomena and events which cannot be left out of legal histories. My posts on piracy were meant as the first contribution to a new series. If you agree with me that the list of digitized pamphlets should be enlarged you might try searching for pamphlets at Intute, a thing to do as long as that website is still running. The History Guide of the Göttingen State and University Library can lead you to many pamphlet collections, as do Clio Online and for example this page of the Virtual Library Labour History at the International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam.

A postcript

At Archivalia Klaus Graf points to the fact that the German bibliographical projects VD16VD17 and VD18 do contain large numbers of pamphlets. This source genre is increasingly being digitized, too. The QuickSearch of the catalogue of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna can be tuned to restrict your search to particular source types; for historical pamphlets you can select Einblattdrucke.

A second postscript

Roeland Harms, a scholar at Utrecht University, has written Pamfletten en publieke opinie. Massamedia in de zeventiende eeuw [Pamphlets and public opinion. Mass media in the seventeenth century] (Amsterdam 2011). You can download here his 2010 Ph.D. thesis (in Dutch with an English summary) from which his new book stems.

A third postscript

For the Society for Old Dutch Law I have written a concise guide to Dutch pamphlets and legal history at Rechtsgeschiedenis.org.

An overview of digitized pamphlet collections

At my website I have created in May 2013 an overview of digital pamphlet collectiions. In this overview collections are presented  in alphabetical order by country, with short descriptions of the contents and focus.

 

Celebrating the Utrecht peace treaty of 1713

Many ways lead to the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) is the translated title of a recent post by Klaus Graf. The post is an example of Graf’s approach to answer a seemingly simple question, to find an electronic version, either a e-text or a digitized version, of the peace treaty signed at Aix-la-Chapelle (Aachen) in 1748. The website Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne (Early Modern European Peace Treaties) of the University of Mainz brings you to manuscript versions of several peace treaties, to separate printed versions and to printed versions in one specific treaty collection, the Theatrum Europaeum. In order to find a printed version, and preferably the one scholars normally use, Graf used both Google Books and Wikipedia to find what he was looking for. Fairly early in his posting Graf points to my weblog for a search strategy when looking for digitized early editions. However, you will not find there immediately a set of neat directions to find digitized editions of peace treaties, but you can certainly use some of the portals and gateways described and used to search for them.

In today’s post I will try to follow-up my rejoinder to Graf’s post at the blog of the AGFNZ in which I point to a number of treaty collections in print, and to create a kind of short guide to digital editions of historical peace treaties. Graf looked for a treaty from 1748, but as we approach the commemoration of the Peace of Utrecht (1713) the overview I propose here might be useful, too. At the end of this rather long post I will try to create an overview of the several online versions of the 1648, 1713 and 1748 peace treaties, and an overview of a number of digitized early modern treaty collections.

One of the things I am arguing in my post is that peace treaties in Early Modern Europe encompassed both multilateral and bilateral treaties. You leave out a lot when you talk about the treaty of Münster, Utrecht or Aix-la-Chapelle, and in fact you are unclear about which specific treaty you are talking. I have included a discussion of the Utrecht peace treaties – the plural is really justifiable – because it ushered a period of almost 25 years with a relatively stable balance of powers. In fact it is the first and classic example of the balance of powers or concert of nations, a contemporary expression. In this rather long post you will also notice the importance of French. The Peace of 1713 definitely established French as the main language for diplomacy well into the twentieth century. For the Dutch Republic the treaties concluded at Utrecht implied a setback in European politics from a major role to a more modest position. In 1713 the French coined the proverbial phrase de vous, chez vous, sans vous: about you, in your place, but without you…

Peace treaties in print and online

Anyone more familiar with Early Modern Europe than I will soon notice when reading my rejoinder in German that I have overlooked a number of websites with online guides to digitized historic materials. Just mentioning the Multilaterals Project of the Fletcher School, Tufts University, the few relevant links given in the Electronic Information System for International Law of the American Society for International Law and their own treaties links collection – however fine it is for modern history and contemporary law – is indeed not enough. Here I will try to make up for my oversight. In particular the German portal historicum.net and the links collection Frühe Neuzeit Digital of the Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, form very useful gateways in this field.

The Peace of Westphalia

The Westphalian Peace of 1648 is perhaps the most important early modern peace treaty, and maybe also the one best served in contemporary and critical editions. In my comment at the AGFNZ I used a guide by Winfried Baumgart, Bücherverzeichnis zur deutschen Geschichte. Hilfsmittel-Handbücher-Quellen (12th ed., Munich 1997). Baumgart provides you not just with the titles of major source collections but gives information about the contents of individual volumes of these sometimes vast collections. Thus you can search more quickly in the six volumes edited by Johann Gotttfrid von Meiern of the Acta pacis Westphalicae publica oder Westphälische Friedens-Handlungen und Geschichte (…) (Hannover 1734-1736; reprint 1969). Even the firm which has led to a new verb for searching the web does not provide an online version of this edition. The Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog, the EMTO at Hagen, the Zentralverzeichnis Digitalisierter Drucke, the Europeana and Hispana gateways to digital collection all splendidly overlook the digitized version pointed at by the portal at Wolfenbüttel: the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg has not only digitized the six volumes of Von Meiern, but also the Theatrum Europaeum by Johann Philipp Abelinus and others (21 vol., Frankfurt am Main 1646-1738), a major work on European and German political history, and the major treaty collection edited by Johann Christian Lünig (ed.), Das Teutsche Reichs-Archiv (23 volumes and index, Leipzig 1710-1722), the latter is still being digitized, one has reached the twelfth volume. The engravings of the Theatrum Europaeum have also been digitized separately in a higher resolution. How thoughtful, too, of the Universitätsbibliothek Augsburg to create a modern PDF version of the pioneer study on the Theatrum Europaeum by Hermann Bingel, Das Theatrum Europaeum. Ein Beitrag zur Publizistik des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts (Lübeck 1919; reprint Liechtenstein 1982)!

Since 1962 the Arbeitsstelle Westfälischer Frieden von 1648 has published an ongoing series of critical source editions of not only the treaties, but also correspondences, protocols and diaries under the title Acta Pacis Westphalicae (APW). At their website you can consult the various versions of the main peace treaties of Münster and Osnabrück, the Instrumentum Pacis Monasteriensis (IPM) and the Instrumentum Pacis Osnabrugensis (IMO), together with a number of early translations. To my surprise a Dutch contemporary version is missing, but on second thought no Dutch version was ever ratified, and therefore it has been excluded from the APW. The Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN) records at least ten editions. Together with a facsimile of a German and a Latin version a contemporary Dutch version – with a title page different from the titles mentioned in the STCN – has been published in the volume Der Frieden von Münster / De Vrede van Munster 1648 (…), Gerd Dethlefs (ed.) (Münster 1998). Earlier on a Dutch edition of the Münster treaty was published by C. Smit (ed.), Het vredesverdrag van Munster, 30 januari 1648 (Leiden 1948). When searching for a digital version of the Hannover edition at BASE, the Bielefeld Search Engine, it appears that almost all volumes of the APW, the modern critical edition, have been digitized at Munich for the Digitale Sammlungen, but one can only use this digitized version within the rare book room of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

Better than lingering too long at this state of affairs is pointing to the German portal Westfälische Geschichte which brings you to the history of the region Westfalen, with several databases and among much else transcriptions of some of the treaty documents of 1648.

A few questions halfway…

Is it possible to indicate a quicker road to reliable texts of peace treaties? In this post I focus on treaties from the Early Modern Period (1500-1800). Treaties were concluded in Latin, French. German and other languages, English being only the original language for a relative minority of cases. The first port of call for legal historians searching for English versions of peace treaties is probably the Avalon Project of Yale Law School. Starting maybe with the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 870 you can find a number of translated peace treaties, with references to the translations used, but alas no page numbers. The Avalon version of the Westphalian Treaty of 1648 sadly lacks even a reference to the source of the translation. However useful the translation is in itself, this falls short of its own standard, but worse is the fact that the 1648 treaty is the last seventeenth century treaty present. In the section for the eighteenth century you will search in vain for the 1713 Peace of Utrecht and the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. For later periods Avalon serves a good choice of treaties with a focus on treaties with the United States as one of the parties involved.

A perfectly sensible search strategy is checking the Eurodocs website of the Brigham Young University. For the Netherlands this does not bring you immediately to any peace treaty. Regelgeving in de Nederlanden, one of the websites mentioned is concerned with all kinds of regulations from the Low Countries, but it contains only the peace treaty of 1654 after the First Anglo-Dutch War, and a peace treaty from 1666 with the bishop of Münster from 1666. Luckily Eurodocs has a page with links for Europe as a supranational region, and we will meet a few of the sites and texts indicated later in this post. Some links do not function – no text of the Westphalian treaty at the Fletcher School of Tufts University – and many links point to the versions at Avalon, and in the end the number of peace treaties is restricted. I hoped to find more at the Internet Modern History Source Book of Paul Halsall (Fordham University), but it looks more like I have hit upon one of its few weaknesses. The European Historical Institute at Florence has built a useful directory of websites with primary sources for European history, but it offered me small help for this search. Due to a drastic cut in funding Intute, the wonderful British database service for the humanities, has since July of this year no longer been updated. I did not find much for today’s quest, but I should at least mention the digital collections of the United States Institute of Peace with a Peace Agreements Digital Collection for treaties since 1989, documents of truth commissions and oral history projects in conflict areas.

Much as I would have liked to find a quick road or even several gateways to peace treaties from the Early Modern period the websites that one might readily expect to contain relevant materials do this only in a very restricted sense. At this point I would like to stress the fact that today’s quest is initially for digitized old editions, not for online versions (e-texts), modern translations or for archival records of peace treaties, both perfectly sensible resources when looking for peace treaties.

In a variety of qualities are the texts available at the several national versions of Wikisource. The German Wikisource has more than 200 treaties, among them a transcription of the German text of the Westphalian Treaties of 1648 taken from a contemporary edition digitized at the University of Münster. The English Wikisource contains 36 texts within the category of peace treaties. If you check the category for treaties you can find more peace treaties if you know the years in which they were concluded, and thus – to cut a long road short – you will find in the English Wikisource versions of the two main peace treaties of the Peace of Utrecht of 1713, one between France and Britain, and the other between Spain and Great Britain, without a clear indication of the sources used.

When talking about a peace treaty you simply have to be aware that it can actually consist of several treaties. Unfortunately the exact source of these English translation has not been indicated. You could remain blissfully unaware of the fact that you are dealing with a translation. It is the historian’s trade to distinguish between the original version, be it a handwritten record, a typescript or whatever medium involved, and a changed version, between drafts and definitive versions, between ratified and unratified versions, between official editions, official translations, contemporary officious and other translations. Just telling you saw a version at a particular URL will not do. More is needed and can be done.

The Digithèque des matériaux juridiques et politiques is a website maintained by Jean-Pierre Maury (Université de Perpignan). The section on historical and modern treaties presents a nice choice. For the Peace of Westphalia Maury distinguishes neatly between the two main treaties signed at Münster and Osnabrück, he indicates even that the originals are in Latin and French, but he omits any reference to the sources he used for establishing the text. The 1748 peace treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle did not make it into his selection, the peace treaties of Nijmegen (1678) and Rijswijk (1697) were found fit for inclusion, but all these texts lack references.

The Peace of Utrecht, 1713

From 1701 the War of Spanish Succession involved Spain, Portugal, France, Savoy, the Dutch Republic, the German Holy Roman Empire and Great Britain. Within the Dutch Republic in particular the States of Utrecht favoured a negotiated peace. They even bypassed the Dutch States General and opened secret negotiations with France. This is probably one of the unspoken reasons why Utrecht was chosen in 1712 as the city for official peace negotiations. The coming of the delegations were a boost for the local economy. Indeed the memory of lavish feasts seems to be thus strong that it inspired the committee for the commemoration of the peace of 1713 to support numerous cultural events in Utrecht years ahead of 2013. On the special website you find barely any mention of the peace treaty and its context. The Peace of Utrecht did not deal with all issues at stake. Some matters were dealt with in the Peace of Rastatt (1714).

At Europäische Friedensverträge you will find not just the several treaties concluded on April 11, 1713, but also the earlier truces, 22 texts in all, among them even the first later annulled version of the treaty between Savoy and Spain. To British readers the Peace of Utrecht holds its interest from an article in the peace treaty concluded on July 2, 1713. In article 10 the Spanish king ceded all its rights on Gibraltar to Great Britain. The Theatrum Europaeum gives a text version in German (XX,436-). The website at Mainz points to the website for Legislación Histórica de España with a link to the digitized image of a printed edition (Madrid 1713) with the official Spanish text.

When I read Graf’s post I was at first very surprised, in fact short of alarmed, that he had tried to find a text using Google Books and Wikipedia, two devices which he has often scorned, but I realized maybe he wanted to give them a second chance, and if they could help him to (reliable) texts of the 1748 peace treaty his goal would be achieved. Per aspera ad astra! Thanks to Wikipedia I found the website Heraldica of François Velde where scans of the treaties of both the peace of Utrecht and Rastatt have been put together; the scans were originally made for Gallica from Henri Vast (ed.), Les grands traités du règne de Louis XV (3 vol., Paris 1893-1899) and from George Chalmers (ed.), A collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers (2 vol., London 1790). The Dutch Wikipedia has a link to a French edition printed at Rochelle in 1713 digitized for Canadiana, a website for digitizing Canadian history and heritage.

One of the things I worried about was and is finding a Dutch text of the Peace of Utrecht. You can find all kind of treaties and ordinances in the nine volumes of the Groot placaet-boeck (…) (The Hague 1658-1796) for which Johannes van der Linden made a repertory (Repertorium of generaal register (…) (Amsterdam 1796). The volumes have been digitized by the department for Special Collections of Utrecht University Library. You will find in volume V the earlier guarantees (V, 444-449 – in French), the April 11 treaty between the Dutch States General and France (V, 456-467 – in Dutch) , a commercial treaty (V, 476-492 – in Dutch) and a new alliance signed June 17 (V, 492 -495 – in French). GPB V, 495-506 gives a Dutch version of the Rastatt treaty between the Holy German Empire and France (March 6, 1714). In view of the number and variety of treaties and their impact on the Dutch Republic the selection in the Groot placaet-boeck is rather meagre.

The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748)

It would be tedious to repeat and translate here everything brought together in the post Klaus Graf published. Here I will just expand his references and add a few things. Graf found an English version of the main peace treaty concluded on October 18, 1748 (London 1749) and the reprint of it by Chalmers, A collection of treaties I, 424-450. A Dutch version is printed in Martinus Stuart (ed.), Jaarboeken van het koningrijk der Nederlanden 2 (Amsterdam 1815) 1065-1082. The text edition favored by Graf is the one by Alfred Francis Pribram (ed.), Österreichische Staatsverträge I, England I, 1526-1748 (Innsbruck 1907) 789-807. The edition by Rousset is in his Recueil historique d’actes (…) XX, 179-204. I will discuss this treaty collection in the next paragraph. In fact Rousset has devoted the pages 147 to 348 to acts concerning this peace treaty. I can only add a Dutch version in the Groot placaet-boeck, volume VIII, 246-253.

Treaty collections

The website in Mainz offers a mer à boire, but the Theatrum Europaeum offers only German translations. Can more be found? At historicum.net is a page with a number of quick links to the major peace treaties between 1500 and 1800. By now you are aware that you will have to look out for several treaties under the denominator of a particular peace; on the page in question the links are to specific treaties, not to the general pages at Mainz with the relevant lists for each peace treaty. Historicum.net has a broken link to the Base Choiseul, a database of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which you will find all French treaties signed before 1915. The Base Choiseul give you either a number of documents in PDF – which unfortunately do not open – or it points you to other relevant treaties with references to their appearance in major treaty collections. This list has been dressed very generously. It boils down to a very comprehensive list of pre-1950 treaty collections. The Base Choiseul gives you also a number of country bibliographies.

Gallica was already briefly mentioned as a possible place to find digitized treaty collections. The scan quality at Gallica can be indifferent to simply insufficient, and let’s therefore treat it as a kind of last line of defense if you cannot find it anywhere else within a reasonable time span.

The alphabetical list of works given at the Base Choiseul mentions a work by Friedrich August Wilhelm Wenck, Codex juris gentium recentissimi (…) (3 vol., Lipsiae 1781-795). It is concerned with treaties between 1735 and 1772. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) is found in the second volume for the years 1743-1753. Graf detected Wenck using the proverbial websearch machine and its subdomain for books. He guessed he would have found it earlier using Gallica, but in fact Graf was very happy with the version digitized at Ghent. I found it also digitized at the University of Michigan using the Hathi Trust Digital Library. By the way, Wenck translated Gibbon in German. To me this way of searching seems too hazardous. Surely there is a way to find Wenck and other major treaty collections using a few portals for digital collections , the Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog, BASE and the Hathi Trust. I will start with the titles I mentioned in my German comment to Graf’s post. If my strategy succeeds I will add a few other titles.

The Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (8 vol., Amsterdam-La Haye 1726-1731) was started by Jean Dumont and contains treaties from 800 to 1730. The very fact you are searching for a multivolume work makes the search for a digitized version of all eight volumes not easier. It appears that even the volumes digitized at Gallica still are not a complete set.

The sequel to the Corps universel diplomatique is J. Rousset de Missy and others (eds.), Recueil historique d’actes, négotiations, mémoires et traités (21 vol., La Haye-Amsterdam 1728-1755). Among the editors are Bernard Picart and Jean de Barbeyrac. This is the moment to underline the importance of a very significant turn in Graf’s search action, the decision not to stay with the digitized version of Rousset as presented by Google Books, but to go to the website of the original library where the digitized books stem from. In the catalogue of the Universiteitsbibliotheek Ghent you find a very clear listing of the volumes involved, digitized at the UCLA. In fact the online catalogue university library at Ghent does even guide you to digitized versions of books available at the Hathi Trust Digital Library. The Ghent partnership goes beyond Google Books. Other versions of Rousset accesible through the Hathi Trust are incomplete.

Graf wondered whether there is another work used as often or relied upon so much as Wenck’s for treaties of the mid-eighteenth century. The article on him in the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie tells about the praise Wenck got from George Friedrich von Martens, the publisher of the [Nouveau] recueil des principaux traités conclus par les puissances de l’Europe dépuis 1761 (first series, 7 vol., Göttingen 1791-1801). The second edition appeared in Göttingen between 1817 and 1835 and has been digitized by the University of Michigan; the link is to the compact overview offered at Ghent University. The series nicknamed the Recueil Martens has known until 1943 several continuations and additional tables, all indicated in Baumgarts Bücherkunde and the bibliography of the Base Choiseul. Digitized versions of some of the newer series in the Recueil Martens, too, can quickly be found using the services of the university library at Ghent. For modern German translations of Early Modern treaties one can turn to the so-called Vertrags-Ploetz. The full title of the relevant volume is Konferenzen und Verträge, Vertrags-Ploetz : ein Handbuch geschichtlich bedeutsamer Zusammenkünfte und Vereinbarungen, 2,3: Neuere Zeit 1492-1914, Helmut K.G. Rönnefahrth and H. Euler (ed.) (2nd ed., Würzburg 1958).

The four volumes of the first editions of Fred L Israel and Emanuel Chill (eds.), Major peace treaties of modern history, 1648-1967) (4 vol., New York, etc., 1967) is not yet available online. The third edition appeared as Major peace treaties of modern history, 1648-2000 (5 vol., Philadelphia 2002). Perhaps this is the moment to point to the volume of essays edited by Randall Lesaffer, Peace Treaties and International Law in European History. From the Late Middle Ages to World War One (Cambridge, etc., 2004). Niels Fabian May deplored in his 2005 review for H-Soz-u-Kult the use of editions like Dumont and The Consolidated Treaty Series when many treaties are available in better editions, but this remains a tantalizing remark. May does overlook how Heinz Duchhardt points in his contribution for the 2004 volume to the collection edited by Henri Vast, and to contemporary document collections concerning major treaties such as Nijmegen, Rijswijk and Utrecht. For the Peace of Utrecht appeared the Actes, mémoires et autres pièces authentiques concernant la Paix d’Utrecht (6 vol., Utrecht 1714-1715), digitized at the Hathi Trust. Earlier Lesaffer published Europa, een zoektocht naar vrede? (1454-1763 en 1945-1997) [Europe, a search for peace? (1454-1763 and 1945-1997)] (Louvain 1999).

Searching a text of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle prompted Klaus Graf to write his post. The main edition turned out to be the one by Wenck (vol 2., 337-431). The Base Choiseul refers also to Alexandre and Jules le Clercq (eds.), Recueil des traités de la France (23 vol., Paris 1864-1907), vol. 1, 65-79 – digitized at Munich – and Christoph Guillaume de Koch (ed.), Abrégé de l’histoire des traités de paix entre les puissances de l’Europe depuis la paix de Westphalie (4 vol., Basle-Paris-Strasbourg 1796-1797), vol 1, 446-451, digitized at the New York Public Library. These editions offer clearly less than Wenck.

And there is more!

This post is the longest since I started my blog in December, 2009. If you are only familiar with English and your French and German, not to mention Spanish and Dutch, are weak or simply absent, you have been quite patient if you have come this far, but surely you have arrived here somewhat exasperated. Are there no English collections before The Consolidated Treaty Series, edited by Clive Parry (231 vol., Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1969-1981)? I did mention the collection edited by George Chalmers, A collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers (2 vol., London 1790) for which you can choose between three digitized versions available at the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Much older is the collection of treaties in the work edited by Thomas Rymer and Robert Sanderson, Foedera, conventiones, literae et cujusque generis acta publica (…) (20 vol., London 1704-1735; 10 vol., Hagae Comitis, 1739-1745). I have not found a complete digitized set of the first edition available through open access. Only a number of volumes have been digitized for the public domain at Gallica and the Hathi Trust, partially from the first and partially from the second edition. In German research libraries you have access to a complete digitized set of Rymer’s Foedera, and in Eighteenth Century Collections Online those lucky enough to have access to it through a subscribing library can use the volumes of the second edition (20 vol., London 1726-1735) and also the index volumes.

The fact that many treaties were concluded in French is probably one of the reasons of the scarcity of British collections of treaties, but stronger is the view that such works were only useful and fit for print when they directly touched Great Britain. You can find several collections for particular subjects, such as treaties with India, with Malabar and commercial treaties. One of the first more general collections after Rymer is John Almon’s A Collection of all the treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce between Great Britain (…) (2 vol., London 1772), digitized at the Hathi Trust. In view of the sheer length of this post I leave it to the reader to look in this digital library or elsewhere to find digitized versions the more narrow scoped collections such as Hertslet’s commercial treaties (31 vol., London 1827-1925) or Charles Jenkinson’s work with the same title as Almon’s (2 vol., London 1785).

Less is more?

There is a vast difference between the text of a treaty as shown in a source book aimed at students, the same treaty in a general treaty collection, a contemporary archival record or edition, and a critical text edition with all due scholarly notes, commentaries and additional materials. Depending on the use you are going to make of a passing reference to a treaty or a direct quote from a treaty you are studying for its own sake you face a wealth of materials and a number of choices you have to make. In this post I have focused on treaties from Europe between 1500 and 1800, but treaties are extant from Antiquity to today. Special websites and guides are devoted to UN treaties and treaties of the European Union. It has not been easy to keep focus at just three peace treaties, from 1648, 1713 and 1748. Klaus Graf has dealt splendidly with the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) and here I could only summarize and corroborate his results. The following overview deals first with these three treaties, followed by a summary of the main general treaty collections and their digital presence in this century, and a list of a few useful link collections for quick orientation. I have skipped the online versions without any reference to the sources used.

1648: The Peace of Westphalia

  • Europäische Friedensverträge lists all documents and gives digitized versions of archival records and the German translation in the Theatrum Europaeum
  • The Acta Pacis Westphaliae edition (Münster 1962-) is the critical source edition; the text of the main treaties, the IPM and the IPO, are digitized at the APW website together with a number of early translations – the source edition itself has been digitized in 2014 by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich
  • On the German portal for the history of Westfalen is a special section with information on the context and quick links to the main treaties and some of the separate treaties
  • The German Wikisource has got a transcription of a contemporary German translation (Frankfurt am Main 1649) digitized at Münster
  • The Base Choiseul offers a quick guide to the treaties and refers to old editions, among them for the IPM Dumont, Corpus universel VI,1, 450-461; Vast, Les grands traités I,12-157; the IPO is not included
  • The Dutch Groot-Placaetboeck… (GPB) – digitized at Utrecht – contains only the separate treaty of January 30, 1648 between Spain and the Dutch Republic (I, col. 79-108); see for a Dutch version of the IPM the volume edited by Dethlefs in 1998 and Smit’s edition (1948).
  • Johann Gottfrid von Meiern, Acta pacis Westphalicae publica oder Westphälische Friedens-Handlungen und Geschichte (…) (6 vol., Hannover 1734-1736; reprint 1969) – a copy of the original version has been digitized at Augsburg

1713: The Peace of Utrecht

  • Europäische Friedensverträge gives a detailed list of all treaties involved, with a German translation in the Theatrum Europaeum, digitized archival records and printed contemporary versions
  • The Base Choiseul gives only the treaties where France was involved, but provides references to old editions: the treaty involving the Dutch Republic is in Dumont, Corps universel VIII,1, 366-377; the treaty with Great Britain is in Dumont, Corps universel VIII,1, 339-345; De Clercq, Recueil des traités I,1-10
  • At Heraldica you can find quick links to scans from Vast, Les grand traités and Chalmers, A collection of treaties, both digitized for Gallica
  • The Actes, mémoires et autres pièces authentiques concernant la Paix d’Utrecht (6 vol., Utrecht 1714-1715) have been digitized at the Hathi Trust Library
  • The GPB contains in volume V versions of the earlier guarantees (V, 444-449 – in French), the April 11 treaty between the Dutch States General and France (V, 456-467 – in Dutch) , a commercial treaty (V, 476-492 – in Dutch) and a new alliance signed June 17 (V, 492 -495 – in French)

1748: The Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle

  • The Europäische Friedensverträge present all relevant treaties, give archival records or contemporary editions. The publication of the Theatrum Europaeum ended in 1738. Of the main treaty (October 18, 1748) no printed versions are indicated
  • The Base Choiseul points to three printed versions of the main treaty: Wenck, Codex iuris gentium II, 337-431; De Clercq, Les grands traités I, 65-79; Koch, Abrégé I, 446-451
  • Graf found an English version (London 1749) reprinted by Chalmers, A collection of treaties I, 424-450; a Dutch version is in Martinus Stuart (ed.), Jaarboeken van het koningrijk der Nederlanden 2 (Amsterdam 1815) 1065-1082. The text edition favored by Graf is the one by Alfred Francis Pribram (ed.), Österreichische Staatsverträge, I, England I, 1526-1748 (Innsbruck 1907) 789-807. The edition of the main treaty is in Rousset, Receuil historique d’actes XX, 179-204; the pages 147 to 348 deal with most of the treaties involved.
  • A Dutch version is printed in the GPB VIII, 246-253.
Digitized major treaty collections
  • Johann Christian Lünig (ed.), Das Teutsche Reichs-Archiv (23 volumes and index, Leipzig 1710-1722) – digitized at Augsburg
  • Johann Philipp Abelinus and others (eds.), Theatrum Europaeum (21 vol., Frankfurt am Main 1646-1738) – offers German translations; digitized at Augsburg
  • Thomas Rymer and Robert Sanderson, Foedera, conventiones, literae et cujusque generis acta publica (…) (20 vol., London 1704-1735; 10 vol., Hagae Comitis, 1739-1745) – a number of volumes has been digitized at Gallica and the Hathi Trust; a complete set is available through Eighteenth Century Collections Online
  • Jean Dumont (ed.), Corps universel diplomatique du droit des gens (8 vol., Amsterdam-La Haye 1726-1731) – covers the period 800-1730; there is no complete digitized set; Gallica has digitized four volumes
  • J. Rousset de Missy and others (eds.), Recueil historique d’actes, négotiations, mémoires et traités (21 vol., La Haye-Amsterdam 1728-1755) – covers the period 1714-1748; digitized at the Hathi Trust Digital Library
  • John Almon (ed.), A Collection of all the treaties of peace, alliance, and commerce between Great Britain (…) (2 vol., London 1772) – digitized at the Hathi Trust
  • Friedrich August Wilhelm Wenck (ed.), Codex juris gentium recentissimi (…) (3 vol., Lipsiae 1781-795) – covers the period 1735-1772; digitized at Ghent
  • George Chalmers (ed.), A collection of treaties between Great Britain and other powers (2 vol., London 1790) – digitized at the Hathi Trust
  • Christoph Guillaume de Koch (ed.), Abrégé de l’histoire des traités de paix entre les puissances de l’Europe depuis la paix de Westphalie (4 vol., Basle-Paris-Strasbourg 1796-1797) – digitized at the New York Public Library
  • Georg Friedrich von Martens (ed.), [Nouveau] recueil des principaux traités conclus par les puissances de l’Europe dépuis 1761 (first series, 7 vol., Göttingen 1791-1801) – the second edition (8 vol. and index, Göttingen 1817-1835) is available through the Hathi Trust; use the Ghent catalogue to find digitized version of later continuations
  • Alexandre and Jules le Clercq (eds.), Recueil des traités de la France (23 vol., Paris 1864-1907) – digitized at Munich
  • Henri Vast (ed.), Les grands traités du règne de Louis XV (3 vol., Paris 1893- 1899) – digitized at Gallica
Portals to Early Modern Europe and Germany; some websites for other sources

A postscript

On second thoughts I have written in September 2011 another post about Early Modern peace treaties to summarize some of the main arguments presented here.

For the iconography of the Peace of Utrecht one can search the marvellous collection of historical prints collected by Frederik Muller, since 1881 in the Printroom of the Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam. For The Memory of the Netherlands digital portal nearly 5,000 prints have been digitized. Searching for “Vrede van Utrecht (1713)” will bring you a very generous harvest.

A new Dutch digital library

At the end of a festive session yesterday in Leiden a new Dutch digital library has been launched. Early Dutch Books Online (EDBO) is the fruit of cooperation between the Royal Library in The Hague and the university libraries of Leiden and Amsterdam. Contrary to the project Early English Books Online its Dutch counterpart is free accessible. A second difference is the much smaller time span covered by EDBO, only the period 1780-1800. You can connect directly from EDBO to the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN), the retrospective bibliography of Dutch books published between 1540 and 1800. The STCN now points you also to EDBO. My interest in digital libraries and their contents and research chances for legal historians explains my interest in this new project. In fact the Royal Library had invited those interested in EDBO a number of weeks ago to have a look at the beta version. What does EDBO bring for Dutch legal history? Does this project live up to normal expectations about digital libraries?

At first I had a feeling of disappointment about the seemingly low number of digitized books touching upon Dutch legal history. EDBO presents some 10,000 books with a total of over 2 million pages, and only a very restricted number of books have titles suggesting immediately a connection with legal history. If you look for books with privileges (privilegien in the old Dutch spelling), bylaws (keuren), charters (handvesten), customary law (costumen) or simply the Dutch word for law, recht, as title words you will not find much. Of course it is good to have a digitized version of the great edition of sources for the city of Dordrecht, Handvesten, privilegien, vrijheden, voorrechten, octrooijen en costumen…der stad Dordrecht edited by Pieter Hendrik van de Wall (Dordrecht 1790); the first edition appeared in 1783. The volume of handvesten for the Overwaard, the region near Gorinchem on the Waal, edited by Nicolaas van Slype (Gorinchem 1782) is not very well known, but the two volumes with handvesten for Nijmegen (Nijmegen 1785) are more familiar. Among the treatises included are an edition of Simon van Leeuwen‘s Het Roomsch Hollandsch Recht (2 vol., Amsterdam 1780) edited by Cornelis Willem Decker, a translation of Rousseau’s Du contrat social (Dordrecht 1793), and the Schets over de rechten van de mensch (…) [A sketch of the rights of man] by F.A. van der Marck (Groningen 1798). In the field of ecclesiastical law I noted a booksize pamphlet on the ecclesiastical properties held since the sixteenth century by the city of Haarlem, Het eigendoms-recht der stad Haarlem, op de zoogenaamde geestelijke goederen (…) (Haarlem 1800), addressed to the parliament of the Batavian Republic.

Another book called Amsterdams burgerrecht: Dat is Verzameling van privilegien en handvesten [Amsterdam’s citizens’ law, being a collection of privileges and charters] (Amsterdam 1787) atttacted my attention because of words following the subtitle: “Uit de groote Handvest en andere schriften byeen verzameld, om als een zakboek van ieder gebruikt te kunnen worden”, compiled from the Major Charter and other writings in order to serve as a pocketbook for everyone’s use. Having the law at hand, in your pocket even, is a symbol of the growing emancipation of citizens which longed to have access to politics and the administration of daily life. The period 1780-1800 is part of a longer period in Dutch and European history of intense political debate and revolution. In Dutch history the Patriotic Revolt (1785-1787) was a kind of preparation for the French Revolution and the foundation of the Batavian Republic (1795-1806). In fact I guess one of the major shortcomings of this digital library is its rather arbitrary time limit. Adding the period up to 1815 or 1820 would greatly strengthen this collection. At the same time I admit the very qualities of the present collection awaken the taste for more!

Despite the seemingly restricted number of legal books – some sixty books with recht as a title word – the strength of EDBO is something else, too, the fact that you can also search in the digitized texts. The search function enables you to look really directly into the books produced during two decades, and to search for discussions of political and legal matters. The number of books touching upon law in EBDO becomes larger when you extend your research to ordonnanties, local and regional ordinances on a great variety of topics ranging from economic matters to the military. EDBO contains nearly 200 digitized ordinances.

As for the more common qualities to be expected from a uptodate digital library the search function of EDBO is rather restricted. Even the advanced search offers you only the fields author, title, language and year. However, one is directed to the STCN for more generous search facilities including keywords and subject headings. I accessed the digitized volume on the possessions of the city of Haarlem from 1800 through the STCN, and thus it seems the identifying web address functions correctly, although this permalink is only shown at the STCN, not in EDBO itself. Each page of the books digitized for EDBO has its own particular URL. In January 2011 Klaus Graf expressed his regret about a project for the digitization of economic works for the Marx-Engels Gesamtausgabe by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences which offers no permanent URL’s to the digitized pages. I was about to finish my post when I read Klaus Graf’s first impressions of EBTO: laurels for the quality of the images, grumblings about the hidden corner of the permalinks.

Eager readers of my website and the page of this blog on Dutch legal history might have noted the relatively low number of Dutch digital libraries which pertain to the field of history and law. DEN, the Dutch centre for the digitization of cultural heritage, has created a new version of its list of ongoing Dutch digitization projects. I suppose I will have to look again at it and to check for various promising projects. You can expect new results to appear on my pages within the near future.