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Scholarly journals are an invaluable source of information for the academic history of their respective disciplines. As ‘new media’ of the Enlightenment, they have collected academic communication since the 18th century and have become the cornerstone of scholarly discourse. Legal journals have reported on current developments in the legal system, analysed these theoretically, and they have invigorated the transfer of knowledge between the scholarship and practice of law. All studies of the history of jurisprudence and of law depend on the comprehensive reception of pertinent contemporary journal articles. These journals are equally valuable to research on, for example, the history of the humanities, of media and communications, or the history of political ideas.
Research has suffered considerably from how legal journals in the German-speaking world have been passed down. No single institution houses a complete collection, titles are scattered across several libraries, and in some cases there remains only a single copy. This project has solved the problem by digitising all journals of German-speaking territories and all branches of law that appeared between 1703 and 1830 and making these permanently available at no cost in electronic form. The formal inclusion of individual articles opens new possibilities to search for texts by certain authors or treating particular topics.
Joachim Kirchner’s journal bibliography project (Kirchner, Joachim: Bibliographie der Zeitschriften des deutschen Sprachgebietes bis 1900. Vol. 1, 1969, pp. 140-152 und fn. p. 365) enabled the project by listing the 248 legal journals that appeared in the German-speaking world from the beginning until 1830. Of these, 32 titles had already been digitised when the project began, and 3 titles had been declared (by Kirchner himself) to be unavailable in any library. The collaborative project between the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History and the Berlin State Library under the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation sought to digitise the remaining 213 journals and to catalogue their content according to structural data. Using the holdings of these two institutions and with the support of 26 further libraries, we have successfully assembled a complete collection.
The ‘Legal Journals, 1703-1830’ collection is part of the institute’s Digital Library.