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1828 Catalogue: The First Law Library at the University of Virginia

Collecting duplicate editions of the first UVA law books is a cornerstone project of the UVA Law Library. Marsha Trimble, former Special Collections Librarian at the UVA Law Library, began the effort to reconstruct this historical law library in the 1980s. Law Archives staff have continued her efforts, and today the Law Library’s 1828 Catalogue Collection includes 317 of UVA’s original 375 legal titles. Although none of these books are the originals that once sat in the rotunda library, they are exact duplicate copies. Many come with their own interesting histories, provenance, and marginalia. The 1828 Catalogue Collection is housed within the Law Library’s rare book room and forms a part of the Library’s broader collection of roughly 10,000 rare books.

Over the past five years, the UVA Law Library has worked to construct a digital archive of this historical library to supplement the Library’s physical collection of 1828 Catalogue texts. In 2017, Law Special Collections received a grant from the Jefferson Trust, an alumni organization of the University of Virginia, to digitize our entire 1828 Catalogue Collection and make this historical library available to a broad audience on the web.

In October 2017, when this grant-funded work is complete, users will be able to search and explore the Library’s 1828 Catalogue collection through a new Virtual Bookshelf tool. This digital tool displays high-resolution images of the 1828 law books as they would have appeared on the Rotunda Library shelves and uses bibliographic information from the 1828 Catalogue to enable deep research into this historical book collection.