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Archives and Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections Department of Biddle Law Library preserves and provides access to the American Law Institute (ALI) archives, the National Bankruptcy Archives (NBA), and Penn Carey Law historic records.

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 Carey Law School.

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 Carey 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.)

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.