Session Papers: University of Virginia

Your blogger has been involved in a variety of projects relating to the Session Papers, one of the most important historical sources on Scots law and Scottish history (politics, economic, social). None of these projects has come to fruition through the lack of willingness of any funder to support either their restoration, their microfilming, and now their digitisation. The unfortunate shortsightedness of any such refusal of support must be obvious to anyone familiar with them. Session Papers are an unparalleled resource. One recent attempt to gain funding was to involve collaboration with the University of Virginia. This collaboration was because the University of Virginia Law Library was well embarked on its own project to digitise its set of Session Papers. It is worth the trouble to any reader of this blog to examine the website they have developed and continue to progress, which gives a brilliant impression of what could be achieved with teh necessary resources: http://scos.law.virginia.edu

It is therefore a particular pleasure that the Virginia project was the joint-winner of the Mary L. Dudziak Digital Legal history Prize. The prize jury stated:

“The Scottish Court of Session Digital Archive merited the Dudziak Prize because it is an ambitious multi-institutional effort to digitize Scottish session papers from the 1750s to 1840s, which are held by the University of Virginia Law Library and the Library of Congress. The project, which went public in 2018, consists of high-quality scans of approximately 10,000 documents, all expertly tagged using open source and exportable programming. These documents are especially valuable sources because they contain rich narratives of underrepresented groups in the British Atlantic world during the era of the American Revolution. This new archive should help facilitate research on women, enslaved persons, and laborers. Overall, we were impressed by the scholarly significance of this digital archive for the field of British Atlantic studies.”

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