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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.

Current Exhibitions

Itty Bitty Biddle Books: Rare Books from the Archives and Special Collections

Miniature versions of texts have existed for about as long as any other size of books, with miniature Sumerian cuneiform tablets being traced to as early as the 2500s BCE. Around two hundred miniature books, predominately religious texts, survive from the 1500s and they continued to be produced through the 1600s. In the 1700s, vest pocket almanacs grew in popularity. By the mid-1800s, miniatures were trending, some even coming with their own miniature bookshelves.Biddle Law Library tiny books exhibition

Books exist in miniature for many reasons including portability, their appeal for children and students, concealment of risqué content, to be used in dollhouses, and because people enjoy smaller versions of everyday objects. Though small, miniature books’ bindings could also be quite fine and highly decorative. 

This exhibition presents a small sample of Biddle Law Library’s tiny books as well as the opportunity to explore the tools used in bookbinding. The books on display are from the Library’s Rare Book Collection and include a wide range of titles from the early 1500s through the mid-1900s. Although tiny, many of these books have had a major impact on modern legal education and the study of legal philosophy throughout the world. 

For more information contact the Law Library’s Archives and Special Collections Department


Digital Exhibitions

Featured Digital Exhibitions

Benchmark: Penn Law Women and the Federal Courts

"Benchmark: Penn Law Women and the Federal Courts" highlights the careers of Penn Law alumnae who have served or are currently serving on the federal judicial court system. The women featured in this digital exhibition provide a wide lens of exemplary accomplishments, and by highlighting their careers it also provides greater insight into the evolving historical context of women entering into federal judicial service.


Penn Law Milestones: Black History at Penn Law 

The Penn Law Milestones series of digital exhibitions celebrates the accomplishments of students, faculty and staff. Penn Law has been celebrating Black accomplishments since 1888 when Aaron Albert Mossell became the first Black man to graduate from Penn Law. This exhibition provides a list and an accompanying visual timeline to outlines Black history here at Penn Law.


Exhibition Ideas and Documentation

Please use this form to submit your exhibition ideas or completed exhibition documentation.