Legal History Research

Legal History in the Supreme Court Library

If you are interested in researching legal history, the Supreme Court Library collection is a good place to start.

The collection was established by Sir Redmond Barry in 1853 with the intention of creating a joint law library for judges and the legal profession of Victoria. You can start by searching the Library catalogue.

Highlights of the collection

The Library is regarded as a library of national significance. It is one of the largest law collections in Victoria, containing over 120,000 volumes. The extensive collection includes:

  • law reports from all Australian and some international jurisdictions
  • statutory material, textbooks, periodicals, and reference materials
  • manuscripts, diaries, photographs and other forms of legal memorabilia.  

Selected items are displayed in the Library. The preservation of such documents, images and objects makes a significant contribution to Victoria’s historical legacy and safeguards a valuable resource for scholars of legal history.  

If you would like to know more about the Library we hold regular tours. To book in, visit our Events page.

Legal history research collections in Victoria

Below is a list of other legal history research collections in Victoria.

Collection Description

State Library of Victoria

  • The largest publicly accessible collection of Victorian and Australian government and law publications in Victoria.
  • Holds contemporary and historical material including legislation and law reports from Victoria and Australia, plain-language resources, reference materials and works that popularise aspects of the law such as descriptions of famous trials, biographies and  histories.

Public Record Office Victoria

  • Records date from the establishment of the Port Phillip District in the mid-1830s right through to today.
  • Holds a vast array of records created by Victorian Government departments and authorities including the State’s courts, local councils, schools, public hospitals and other public offices. 
Royal Historical Society of Victoria
  • One of Australia’s most significant historical collections focusing on the Victorian experience in Australian history. Access by appointment.
Law Institute of Victoria
  • Available to Law Institute members, legal professionals and the community to help locate a range of legal records or documents from former legal practices and solicitors.