Civil society and its institutions are topics of growing interest to researchers in a wide range of fields. Documents produced by, and in connection with, early governments, courts, and legislatures provide valuable and often unique perspectives on the life, politics, and culture of their eras.
Unfortunately, at a time when historians, jurists, and social scientists are beginning to mine primary legal texts for myriad purposes, many law libraries are retiring their holdings of those materials and public archives in many developed and developing countries are in danger of failing. For years the Area Microform Projects at CRL have aided and preserved public archives in many world regions. And recently CRL formed a partnership with the Law Library Microform Consortium, to expand its preservation of historically important legal publications. CRL and LLMC are now pooling resources to digitize important published materials, particularly from world regions like Africa and the Caribbean (see pages 9 and 12). CRL’s recent acquisition of the Central American Archive (page 2) and LAMP’s digitization of cases from 19th-century Puerto Rican courts (page 7)—two vast troves of unpublished archival materials on Spanish colonial governments—further enlarge this wealth of documentation. We hope that CRL’s efforts can help ensure that the memory of civil societies is preserved for the benefit of future researchers—and tomorrow’s citizens.
Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.