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The Tarlton Law Library is open at this time with access limited to current UT Law students, faculty, and staff. Members of the UT Austin community unaffiliated with the law school may contact the Circulation Desk (, 512-471-7726) for assistance with accessing library resources. Online reference services are also available. Please see the Tarlton Reopening FAQs and the Texas Law Fall 2020 Reopening Plan for additional details

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Reusable Content: Rare Books

Rare Books Home

A law professor and his students, from Flores Legum, 1520
Flores legum secu[n]dum ordinem alphabeti: cum additionibus et concorda[n]tijs doctorum. [Bologna?, c. 1520]

The Rare Book Collection supports legal education and research at The University of Texas by preserving and interpreting canonical and foundational legal works in both the civil and common law traditions, with a special emphasis practice, legal education, dictionaries and reference works, Texas legal history, and precursors of Texas law. The navigation to the left will guide you to more information on our collection strengths and current programming.

  • Location: Room 4.209, 4th Floor, Tarlton Law Library
  • Office Hours: Monday-Friday 8 am-12 noon, 1-5 pm
  • Mailing address: 727 E. Dean Keeton St., Austin, TX 78705-3224
  • Directions and parking information

The collection is non-circulating and must be used in the Fourth Floor Reading Room. Rare books are generally available for use, providing that the guidelines for using the rare books collection are followed. While an appointment is not required, it is recommended. If you are coming from outside Austin, we especially urge you to contact us in advance, so that we can help you make the most of your research visit.

About the Rare Books Collection

Lexicon juris civilis, 1554

The Rare Book Collection supports legal education and research at The University of Texas by preserving and interpreting canonical and foundational legal works in both the civil and common law traditions, with a special emphasis on practice materials, legal education, dictionaries and reference works, Texas legal history, and precursors to Texas law. The Rare Book Collection has an outstanding collection of Texas legal literature dating from the period of Mexican Independence, through the Republic and into the early twentieth century. This collection is complemented by robust collections of material from all the precursors to Texas law: Roman, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American law. The collection currently numbers approximately 10,000 volumes.

Image from Jakob Spiegel. Lexicon juris civilis. Basel: apud Joannem Hervagium, 1554.

Two members of the Law School's original faculty, Professors O.M. Roberts and R.S. Gould, donated their private libraries to the law school in 1884. A number of these volumes are now in the collection.

Rastell Dictionary, 1523
John Rastell. Exposicio[n]es t[er]mi[n]o[rum]
legu[m] anglo[rum],
 London: John Rastell, 1530.
The Jamail Rastell Dictionary 

Significant additions since then include:

The Carswell Company, 1921 (purchase of over 1,100 volumes, primarily English nominative reporters)

Judge Robert Lynn Batts, 1935 (donation of early English and Spanish law books), and the bequest of the Robert Lynn Batts Library by his daughter Margaret Tobin Batts 1993 (over 100 volumes of English, Spanish & American law, transferred from the Center for American History)

Harry Gammel, son of the famous Texas book dealer & publisher H.P.N. Gammel, 1946 (Spanish, Mexican, and European law)

The Texas Supreme Court Library, 1940-1970 (16th-19th century volumes of Roman, canon, French, and Spanish law; see Michael Widener, Hispanic & European Law Books in the Old Texas Supreme Court Library, a PDF file)

Chauncey D. Leake, Jr. (UT Law 1955) 1997- (early European law books and law-related fine press books; The Mildred A. O'Donohoe Collection of Williston Fish's Last Will. Online Exhibit: Williston Fish's Last Will)

Joseph D. Jamail (UT Law 1953) 1999 (The Law Library's Millionth Volume, the Jamail Rastell Dictionary, and 64 volumes Birmingham Law Society Auction, 2001, view list)

If you have questions or suggestions about this page, please contact Rare Books.

Legal History Series

Originally closely associated with the annual Rare Books Lecture, the Tarlton Law Library Legal History Series commenced in the year Illustration of two men from Sachsenspiegel title page2000. In the preface to the inaugural volume -- Guillermo Margadant, Illustrations of the Sachsenspiegel: A Medieval German Law Book -- former director Roy Mersky expressed the hope that the series would inspire "exploration of the rich sources of our legal heritage," and that the series itself demonstrate the "importance of libraries and archives to legal history."

Most Recent:  No. 14 - Eric M. White, Evidence from the Fifteenth Century:
The Tarlton Law Library’s Earliest Printed Books
Austin: Jamail Center for Legal Research, 2014. Press release

Series editor: Elizabeth Haluska-Rausch, PhD

Image from Eike von Repgow. Sachsenspiegel: die Wolfenbütteler Bilderhandschrift Cod. Guelf. 3.1 Aug. 2. Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1993. Facsimile in Special Collections.

View full publication list

Publications for sale at our online store


  • Rare Books and manuscripts may not be photocopied.
  • If the work is too fragile, scanning is prohibited.
  • Reproduction is prohibited if there is a digital facsimile available online.
  • Digital photography without a flash is permitted at the discretion of the curator.
  • There is a strict limit of 10 pages for remote requests.
  • Staff will scan the material. No exceptions.


  • Rare books and manuscripts may only be consulted in the Fourth Floor Reading Room.
  • Rare books and manuscripts do not circulate. No exceptions.
  • Use of materials is dependent upon condition, the assessment of which is at the discretion of the curator. 
  • To ensure you are able to view the materials you wish to see, curatorial staff should be consulted regarding access to collections and their availability. We strongly encourage patrons to contact us before visiting.
  • No food or drink is permitted.
  • Bags and other containers must be stacked against the front wall. Requests for materials will not be accepted after 4:30 p.m.
  • If you wish to consult with the curator, please plan your visit between 10-3, M-Th.
  • Pencils only.
  • The use of laptop computers is encouraged.
  • Researchers must exercise all possible care to prevent damage to materials.
  • Researchers may request up to five rare books at a time.
  • Researchers may request one manuscript container at a time.
  • All permissions needed for publication are the researcher’s responsibility.
  • If you are unable to come in person, the Briscoe Center and the Harry Ransom Center maintain a list of researchers for hire.


  • All images of rare books and manuscripts on the Tarlton Law Library website are the property of the library and may not be reproduced without permission.
  • Copies may be downloaded for personal or scholarly use.
  • To request permission to publish an image please contact the department
  • Please be advised that there are fees associated with publication permission.

About the Manuscript Collection

Detail Liber ExtraThe Manuscript Collection at Tarlton Law Library dates from the medieval through the early modern period. For modern materials please see Archives in the Department of Archives and Special Collections. The Manuscript Collection contains over 1000 pieces on paper and parchment. Two collection strengths are Texas practice documents from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and English legal documents dating from the fifteenth through the nineteenth century. Texas documents are as diverse as land certificates and hand written judicial opinions. English materials include, deeds, mortgages, leases, marriage settlements and testamentary material, as well as court records and other legal transactions. Some are decorated, many include wax seals. The collection also includes a number of legal codices dating from the early modern period, largely on paper.

Image from an illuminated leaf, Gregory IX. Liber Extra. Book 3, title 48. Paris?, not after 1240.




The Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts actively contributes to the life of the library and the law school in several ways.  In addition to preserving and protecting early Texas law books and other legal treasures, the collection provides the basis for an exhibit program, rare books showings, and class visits. Many of the exhibits are complemented and preserved by online versions.  These may be viewed in Digital Collections. The large manuscript collection has just been opened to public use and should provide an opportunity for substantive research on early modern England.

Groups are welcome, please contact the curator in advance.

The books are here ot be seen, please feel welcome to visit.