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February 5, 2008

CONTACTS: Claire Duggan: (202) 994-0616;
Adela de la Torre: (202) 994-6424;


WASHINGTON - The George Washington University Law School's Jacob Burns Law Library has acquired the important rare French law book collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

This collection of 269 titles represented in nearly 600 volumes comprises the classic legal works of France from the 16th through the 19th centuries, and augments the Jacob Burns Law Library's noted French Collection. Customary law, civil law, royal ordonnances, all elucidated by the celebrated French jurisconsults, are found in the New York City Bar Library's rich gathering of French legal historical works.

Known as one of the world's great legal research institutions, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York once collected legal historical materials from around the globe. When its mission shifted in recent years to serve the contemporary research needs of its members, the Bar sought to place a portion of its international historical collection with institutions capable of providing both the proper physical environment for the books and an appropriate research environment which would assure access to the materials, both now and in the future. The Bar concluded that GW's Jacob Burns Law Library, with its research collection of historical French legal materials and accessibility to scholars, combined with an optimum physical environment for books and professional oversight, would offer the best new home for the French legal works it had collected over the course of many years.

As Burns Law Library Director Scott Pagel noted, "The partnership between the Bar Association and the Burns Law Library will expand to an exceptional degree the availability of resources for scholars researching the history of French and European law."

The books from the Bar now are housed in a climate-controlled area and have been cataloged with provenance notes identifying them as formerly owned by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. All members of the Association of the Bar continue to have access to these materials. The collection was transferred in late November 2007.

Before restoration work on the collection begins, the library will include titles from the Bar's collection in the Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC) digital scanning project. LLMC is a nonprofit consortium of libraries dedicated to providing economical online access to legal materials. French civil law titles comprise the first group of books from GW to be digitized, and titles from the Bar will join this group and be assigned top priority in the scanning process. After scanning and restoration, the books will be accessible to researchers.

The Jacob Burns Law Library Special Collections contains nearly 16,000 titles including French customary law, French legal codes, trials, materials documenting the conflict between church and state, and an extensive grouping of French Revolutionary materials.

For information about the books acquired from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and Special Collections at the Jacob Burns Law Library, please contact Jennie C. Meade, rare books librarian, at (202) 994-6857 or

For more information about GW's Jacob Burns Law Library, visit
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