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Legal Portrait Project Online
An exhibit of legal portraiture at the Harvard Law School Library.

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As part of its holdings of legal art and visual materials, the Harvard Law School Library owns a collection of approximately 4000 portrait images of lawyers, jurists, political figures, and legal thinkers dating from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century. Although most of these prints, drawings, and photographs depict legal figures prominent in the Common Law, a significant number document jurists and legal educators associated with the Canon and Civil Law traditions.

The collection is particularly strong in images of eighteenth and nineteenth century British and American lawyers, ranging from such well known historical figures as William Blackstone, Jeremy Bentham, John Marshall, and Joseph Story to many lesser known jurists and legal educators. (The collection contains images of many graduates of Harvard College and the Harvard Law School.)

Librarian Eldon R. James and Dean Roscoe Pound began the collection in the first quarter of the twentieth century as an adjunct to the School's "basic collection" of paintings and sculpture. It has continued to grow significantly over the years, and today constitutes a major resource for images of lawyers and jurists that have shaped our Western legal heritage.

In 2002 the Law School Library applied for and received matching funds through the LDI program to catalog and create digital images of the Legal Portrait Collection. In March of 2004 the Special Collections Department presented The Legal Portrait Project Online, an exhibit which combined examples of portraits from the collection together with computer terminals to allow viewing of the digitized images. This exhibition represented the culmination of efforts to bring a valuable and unique resource to the Harvard as well as the larger scholarly community. (For a more detailed description of the project and assistance in accessing records and images please go to the Portrait Project web page.)

Page last reviewed May 2004.
© 2004 The President and Fellows of Harvard College