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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.

Quick Steps to Using the Archives

1. Identify the materials you are interested in using and read our use policies.

2. Contact the Archives regarding your research request or topic. 

3. Schedule a research appointment.

3. Register as a researcher with the Archives Department. 

4. Identify materials you would like to have reproduced and/or inform Archivist of your plans to publish. 

Contact Information

The Archives and Special Collections office is located on the second floor of Tanenbaum Hall, room T-251. 

Sarah Oswald
Head of Archives and Special Collections

Liz Wittrig
Project Archivist


**Due to Biddle Library renovations, the Archives and Special Collection Department is closed to on-site research visits until June 19, 2023.

Using the Archives

Research Questions

For research assistance, please contact the Archives.


All researchers are asked to fill out our Researcher Registration Form. This form can be filled out prior to your visit or on the day of your arrival.

On-site Research

If you wish to come to the Archives to conduct research, you may do so free of charge. However, you must contact the department ahead of time to schedule an appointment. Appointments should be made two weeks in advance of desired research date. Visitors to Penn Law will be asked to show identification. 

Remote Research

For patrons who can not travel to the Law School to conduct research, the Archives will assist in the identification of potentially relevant materials for your research topic or for photocopying. We do not transcribe, paraphrase, or otherwise interpret information for the researcher.

Research requests generally take 2-3 weeks to complete, depending on the nature of the question and the number of outstanding requests at the time of submission. In addition, the Archives can only offer one hour of research assistance, patrons are asked to make an appointment for requests that will take longer than one hour to complete.

Please also note that remote research requests are limited and the Archives can only handle copying/scanning requests up to 20-50 individual pages. If a request exceeds this number, we suggest you schedule an appointment to visit the Archives in person. 


Patrons are asked to wash their hands before touching any materials. Handle all documents with care. Patrons are asked to wear protective gloves when deemed necessary by the Archives.

Documents should be maintained in the exact order they are arranged in each file. If a document appears to be out of order, the researcher should notify the Archives staff. Do not attempt to move or rearrange documents yourself. Remove only one folder from a box at a time.

Make no marks or erasures on any document. Use the strips provided for marking pages to be copied.

Eating or drinking is not allowed in the research area.

Use pencils only, no pens or markers. Laptops and photography are permitted. 

Duplication Services

Photography of collections is allowed. Please ask Archives Staff before taking pictures. 

The Archives does not provide on-site copying services of archives and special collections materials.

Requests for permission to have reproductions for publication purposes made are granted on a case-by-case basis, depending on the rules of the collection and the condition of the particular document. The Archives reserves the right to deny copy requests based on issues related to copyright, preservation, or other circumstances.

If you know what materials you would like reproduced or intend to use in your research, please fill out the Application for Reproduction and Use form.


Collecting Policy

The Archives collects papers and records relating to the history of bankruptcy law in the United States and also serves as the custodian of the records of the American Law Institute. We also collect materials related to U.S. legal history, Penn Law faculty papers, Penn Law student group records, Penn Law institutional records, and photographs. The University Archives manages the acquisition and maintenance of some records of Penn Law School.

The donation of other valuable legal materials to the Biddle Law Library Archives is subject to constraints on space and workflow. Please contact the department for further details.

Circulation Policy

Items in the Archives do not circulate.

Staff Use Only