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Archives and Special Collections

The Archives of Biddle Law Library preserves, promotes, and provides access to the archives of The American Law Institute (ALI), and the National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA), as well as a collection of rare books, manuscripts, and Penn Law historic records.

**Starting August 14, 2023, the Archives and Special Collection Department will be closed on Mondays to on-site research visits.

History of the National Bankruptcy Archives

In October 2000, the Biddle Law Library and the American College of Bankruptcy collaborated to create a special collection entitled the National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA), a national repository of materials relating to the history of debtor-creditor relations, bankruptcy and the reorganization of debt. The NBA collects records from the American College of Bankruptcy as well as from other organizations whose activities have been relevant to the history of bankruptcy and insolvency legislation, regulation, and administrative and judicial determination. The NBA also houses papers of individuals who have influenced the field, and other collections documenting the history of bankruptcy law.


The National Bankruptcy Archives’ primary responsibility is to serve the research needs of those members in the national and international scholarly community who have an interest in the history of bankruptcy law in the United States. As a result, the Archives collects manuscript collections and organizational records of demonstrated historical value for the purpose of supporting those research endeavors.

Furthermore, by preserving and making accessible original materials related to the history of bankruptcy law in the United States, the National Bankruptcy Archives seeks to promote the study of bankruptcy law within in the field of legal research.

Finally, as the sole repository fully dedicated to the preservation of historical records related to bankruptcy, the Biddle Law Library seeks to distinguish itself as a location for legal historical research in the field of bankruptcy law.

Description of the Collections: 

The National Bankruptcy Archives currently contains over 1,000 linear feet of personal papers, organizational records, and other collections related to the history of bankruptcy law in the United States. The collection currently spans the years 1948-present, with the bulk of the collection beginning in the late 1970s and extending to the present.

  • Collection strengths include post-1978 materials, personal papers of individuals associated with the creation of the 1978 Bankruptcy Reform Act (commonly knows as the Bankruptcy Code) and its aftermath, including Lawrence P. KingKenneth N. Klee, and Ralph H. Kelley, and taped oral history interviews with prominent members of the bankruptcy field from the last thirty years.
  • The types of records within the NBA archives include: digital records, oral histories, personal papers such as correspondence, notes, and memos, as well as organizational records, publications, photographs, lectures, conference ephemera, and records of legislative activity.

Major Collections

The American College of Bankruptcy is an honorary public service association of bankruptcy and insolvency professionals who are invited to join as Fellows based on a proven record of the highest standards of professionalism plus service to the profession and their communities. Together with its affiliated Foundation, the College is the largest financial supporter of bankruptcy and insolvency-related pro bono legal service programs in the United States. Among its many activities, the College conducts advanced educational programs; sponsors the publication of scholarly reports; and maintains the National Bankruptcy Archives at the University of Pennsylvania.

The National Bankruptcy Conference is non-profit, non-partisan, self-supporting organization of approximately sixty lawyers, law professors and bankruptcy judges who are leading scholars and practitioners in the field of bankruptcy law. Its primary purpose is to advise Congress on the operation of bankruptcy and related laws and any proposed changes to those laws.

The National Bankruptcy Conference (NBC) was formed from a nucleus of the nation’s leading bankruptcy scholars and practitioners, who gathered informally in the 1930’s at the request of Congress to assist in the drafting of major Depression-era bankruptcy law amendments, ultimately resulting in the Chandler Act of 1938. The NBC was formalized in the 1940’s and has been a resource to Congress on every significant piece of bankruptcy legislation since that time. Members of the NBC formed the core of the Commission on the Bankruptcy Laws of the United States, which in 1973 proposed the overhaul of our bankruptcy laws that led to enactment of the Bankruptcy Code in 1978, and were heavily involved in the work of the National Bankruptcy Review Commission (NBRC), whose 1997 report initiated the process that led to significant amendments to the Bankruptcy Code in 2005.

This collection is still being processed and edited by the archives, so please stay tuned for the addition of this content.

The National Bankruptcy Review Commission (NBRC) is an independent commission established pursuant to the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994, Pub. L. No. 103-394, 108 Stat. 4106, and ceased to exist on November 19, 1997. The Commission was created to investigate and study issues relating to the Bankruptcy Code; solicit divergent views of parties concerned with the operation of the bankruptcy system; evaluate the advisability of proposals with respect to such issues; and prepare a report to be submitted to the President, Congress and the Chief Justice not later than two years after the date of the first meeting.

The National Bankruptcy Archives here at Penn Law hold the following Commission member and consultants records:

The papers of the following Commission members are housed in other locations as noted. To view the records, please contact the noted institution:

  • Jay Alix. Questor, Birmingham, MI. 
  • M. Caldwell Butler Papers. 1972-1982, 1995-1997, (MS.004). Lewis F. Powell, Jr. Archives, Washington and Lee University, Lexington, VA
  • John Gose. American Bankruptcy Law Institute, Alexandria, VA.
  • James Shepard. George Mason Law School, Alexandria, VA.

*Please note that the American University Washington College of Law and the National Archives have full sets of Commission materials.

The National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges is an association of the Bankruptcy Judges of the United States which has several purposes: to provide continuing legal education to judges, lawyers and other involved professionals, to promote cooperation among the Bankruptcy Judges, to secure a greater degree of quality and uniformity in the administration of the Bankruptcy system and to improve the practice of law in the Bankruptcy Courts of the United States. NCBJ has financially supported the National Bankruptcy Archives at Biddle Law Library since its inception. The NCBJ has also contributed it bylaws, publications and other materials to the collection. Papers of members of NCBJ have been contributed to the archive, including those of Judge Judith Fitzgerald and Judge Frank Koger.

The National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges records, 1926-2007, includes materials related to organizational activity as it relates to the field of bankruptcy law, including administrative files, committee papers, meeting materials, legislative activity, publications, and related material.

The NBA preserves and collects the papers of individuals who have influenced the field, and other collections documenting the history of bankruptcy law. This includes the papers of the following individuals: 

Adams, David H., 1984-2006 (NBA.041)*
Bihary, Joyce, 1999-2009 (NBA.039)*
Bufford, Samuel L., 1980-2010 (NBA.035)*
Cosetti, Joseph L., 1972-2001 (NBA.025)*
Cristol, A.J., 1985-2007 (NBA.043)*
Drabkin, Murray, 1932-1999 (NBA.003)
Dreher, Nancy C., 1987-2001 (NBA.026)*
Fitzgerald, Judith K., 1972-2011 (NBA.054)*
Forman, Leon S., 1978-1997 (NBA.020)
Francis, Merrill R., 1989-1999 (NBA.006)
Ginsberg, Robert E., 1978-2000 (NBA.052)*
Glosband, Daniel, 1998-2013 (NBA.055)
Kelley, Ralph H., 1952-2004 (NBA.002)*
King, Lawrence P., 1952-2001 (NBA.001)
Kingsmill, T. Hartley, 1982-1988 (NBA.022)*
Klee, Kenneth N., 1969-1999 (NBA.005)
Kirkham, Francis R., circa 1935-1938 (NBA.032)
Koger, Frank W., 1990-1997 (NBA.014)*

Levin, Richard. 1933-1978 (NBA.060)
Martin, Robert D., 1983-2000 (NBA.009)*
McFeeley, Mark B., 1982-1999 (NBA.042)*
Moore, Thomas., 1979-1990 (NBA. 038)
Morton, Robert B., 1973-1993 (NBA.018)
Mund, Geraldine, 1989-2002 (NBA.051)*
Nachman, Norman H., 1983-1998 (NBA,057)
Newsome, Randall J., 1969-2010 (NBA.040)*
Riegle, Linda B., 1991-1997 (NBA.015)*
Rosen, Leonard M., 1973-1994 (NBA.058)
Pearson, John K., 1986-1993 (NBA.019)*
Scott, Mary Davies, 1984-2002 (NBA.017)*
Sheinfeld, Myron M., 1993 (NBA.023)
Small, A. Thomas., 1982-2009 (NBA.036)*
Sommer, Henry J., 1975-2005 (NBA.033)
Votolato, Arthur N., 1968-1986 (NBA.046)*
Weinfeld, Edward, 1972-1978 (NBA.021)
*Judge (Hon.)

Additional Bankruptcy Resources

This visual and detailed timeline was created by the Federal Judicial Center and follows the development of bankruptcy law in the United States from the late 1700s to early 2000s. The Federal Judicial Center is the research and education agency of the judicial branch of the U.S. government.


The The Biddle Law Library Bankruptcy Research Guide provides an overview of bankruptcy law and serves as a starting point for bankruptcy research. This guide contains primary and secondary material available in both print and electronic formats. Since bankruptcy law in the U.S. is a responsibility of the Congress and the federal government, the material in this guide primarily addresses U.S. bankruptcy law. However, resources specific to Pennsylvania bankruptcy law have also been included.

Credit Slips is a blog on all things about credit, bankruptcy, consumers, and financial institutions. It is ran by fourteen academics who use the space to discuss and debate issues not just for specialists but for anyone who cares about creating good policies in these areas. Outside of these individuals, there are many guest contributors from different backgrounds. This website offers casual and regular postings about news and topics involving credit, bankruptcy, consumers and financial institutions. Readers can subscribe to receive email updates when new posting are made.

​Debtwire is a company that provides news, data, and analysis on debt markets worldwide. The Inside Track is a Debtwire podcast series featuring in depth conversations with restructuring market leaders. Click here to visit the Debtwire podcast website. Guests on this podcast share lessons they’ve learned throughout their careers guiding distressed companies and municipalities, as well as address issues impacting the current distressed and restructuring landscapes.

  • Paul Basta on The Inside Track

    Paul Basta is one of today’s preeminent restructuring attorneys. Paul describes working in teams as one of the cornerstone of his success. He joined one at Weil, he helped build one at Kirkland, and now he leads one at Paul Weiss. It’s these teams to which Paul credits much of his growth as a bankruptcy attorney, and because of that, he has been an major influence in the field of bankruptcy. In fact, Paul is responsible for cultivating not just a growing generation of prominent restructuring lawyers

  • Marshall Huebner on The Inside Track

    Marshall Huebner, global head of Davis Polk & Wardwell’s restructuring group, has participated in some of the most iconic restructurings of the past quarter century, including Delta Airlines, AIG, Lehman UK and Ford Motor Co.

    On this episode of The Inside Track, Marshall takes a look back and revisits the highlights of his professional career, as well as reminisces about some of the accidental points, such as his unintentional clerkship on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the time his Congressional testimony on airline bankruptcies was overshadowed by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Marshall also offers invaluable advice for the up-and-coming generation of distressed advisers, explaining the structures he’s put in place to obtain a work-life balance and encouraging young professionals to manage their careers as if they are their own brands.

    Click here to listen to the podcast.

  • Jim Millstein on The Inside Track

    Jim Millstein was a partner at Cleary Gottlieb and the global co-head of Lazard’s corporate restructuring group, and currently the head of the financial advisory firm that carries his name. Jim has also served as the Chief Restructuring Office for the US Department of Treasury. This storied career has allowed Jim to sit front and center for some of the most notable restructurings over the past four decades, including Pan American Airlines, Daewoo, WorldCom, Charter Communications, AIG, American Airlines, Caesars and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

    Recently, Jim joined Debtwire’s Richard Goldman to launch the maiden episode of The Inside Track. During their discussion, Jim reflects upon and shares anecdotes from his “trial by fire” initiation to become a restructuring attorney, his transition from law firm partner to investment bank managing director, the Congressional confirmation process and his study of US financial regulation.

    Jim also shares important lessons for practitioners young and old, including the importance of keeping a clean reputation, seizing upon chance opportunities and the role that luck plays in career development. By Richard Goldman.

  • Judge James Peck on The Inside Track

    Judge James Peck's career of nearly five-decades has given him the opportunity to administer a wealth of cases and practice at prestigious US law firms. Recently, Judge James Peck carries the distinction of having overseen the largest US bankruptcy filing ever – Lehman Brothers. Currently, Judge Peck is the Global Co-Chair for Morrison & Foerster’s restructuring and insolvency group.

    During this interview with The Inside Track, Judge Peck recounts the day that Lehman was reassigned to his docket (the first judge was actually conflicted from the case) as well as the experience of overseeing what was arguably the most followed case in US history. He also shares his views on the judicial appointment process, today’s obstacles to balance-sheet restructurings, and the growing popularity of bankruptcy mediation.

  • Ken Rosen on The Inside Track

    Lowenstein Sandler Partner Ken Rosen, who leads the firm’s Bankruptcy, Financial Reorganization & Creditors' Rights Department, talks with Debtwire Legal Analyst Joshua Friedman about recent developments in retail bankruptcies and restructurings.

The Duke University Law Library Bankruptcy Research Guide provides starting points for research on U.S. bankruptcy law, including key primary and secondary sources and sources of bankruptcy legislative history documents, both in print and online.

The research guide is divided into five sections. 1. Introduction, 2. Primary Sources (statutes, cases, bankruptcy rules), 3. Secondary Sources (books and treatises, periodicals, websites, blogs, commercial forms and checklists), 4. Legislative Histories (compiled legislative histories in print and online), and 5. Bankruptcy Data Sources.

​The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation’s record-keeper. Of all the documents and materials created by the United States Federal government in the course of business, 1-3% are considered so important for legal or historical reasons that they are permanently preserved by the NARA.

Through the National Archives, you can order copies of closed bankruptcy, civil, criminal, and court of appeals case files held in the Federal Records Centers located around the country. Click here.

​Federal courts hear cases involving the constitutionality of a law, cases involving the laws and treaties of the U.S. ambassadors and public ministers, disputes between two or more states, admiralty law, also known as maritime law, and bankruptcy cases.

Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases involving personal, business, or farm bankruptcy. This means a bankruptcy case cannot be filed in state court. Through the bankruptcy process, individuals or businesses that can no longer pay their creditors may either seek a court-supervised liquidation of their assets, or they may reorganize their financial affairs and work out a plan to pay their debts.

“Bankruptcy Basics” provides general information about federal bankruptcy laws and the bankruptcy process.Click here.

Donating Materials to the NBA

Acquisition Strategy:

The National Bankruptcy Archives maintains a custodial agreement to serve as the repository for records of enduring value created by the American College of Bankruptcy and the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges. In addition, the National Bankruptcy Archives actively solicits donations, particularly the personal papers of scholars and practitioners of demonstrated historical significance to the field of bankruptcy law. 


Individuals interested in donating materials to the National Bankruptcy Archives are asked to complete a two-step process.

First, for record-keeping purposes, interested parties are asked contact the Archives, providing important information regarding the size, scope, date range, and format of the materials. The Archives will pay particular consideration to the historical and research value of the materials, as well as any restrictions the donor may wish to have placed on the collection.

If the donation is considered within the scope of the collection development policy of the Archives, the donor is asked to complete a Deed of Gift and return it to the Archives before the materials are sent.