The Pritzker Legal Research Center attributes the origins of its FCIL collection to Dean John H. Wigmore and Union College of Law (later Northwestern University School of Law) alum Judge Elbert H. Gary, after whom our first law library was named. As one of the leading scholars on the history of American law, Dean Wigmore developed a substantial collection of works on Anglo-American law, but Dean Wigmore’s interests also included foreign law. In 1903, he and Judge Gary began collecting in continental law, international law, ancient and Far Eastern law (particularly Japanese materials) and the law of non-literate peoples, as well as legal history, jurisprudence, and legal bibliography from around the world. Because of these efforts, the Library was the first to provide access to a foreign and international collection west of the Atlantic coast.
Currently the Pritzker Legal Research Center’s largest jurisdictional collection is from the United Kingdom, with significant holdings from other common law jurisdictions. The largest civil law collections are from Germany, France, and Italy. The Library still maintains collections of ancient law, customary law, Roman law, Canon law, Islamic law, and Jewish law. And, within the rare book collection are, among other materials, European imprints prior to 1840, significant holdings of French coutumes, and the Williams and Hansel collections of English and French legal documents created between 1300 and 1700 concerning land.
The Pritzker Legal Research Center mostly acquires print materials in English with a very selective collection in the French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish languages. The PLRC does not collect materials on Latin American countries in vernacular languages. The primary source materials in print are in English language translation for any jurisdiction or subject. For non-Anglophone countries, some primary materials are available from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland. Most monographs are in English; a few monographs are in other languages, particularly French and German. The PLRC subscribes to most comparative law journals published in English and a few foreign law journals in other languages, principally French and German.