James Barr Ames


As has been previously annnounced on this page, the Ames Foundation has undertaken, in conjunction with the Harvard Law Library, a project to digitize the Library’s extensive collection of medieval manuscripts of English statute books and registers of writs. Some fifty-eight manuscripts are now available online. A listing of them with links their displays in the Harvard University Library’s system for display of digital material may be found here. The Foundation has also undertaken to catalogue these manuscripts. We are happy to announce that a preliminary catalogue, prepared by Charles Donahue, Jr. and Devon Coleman is now available. It contains extensive descriptions of fifty-seven of the manuscripts, with links to the images of the manuscripts themselves, summaries of the contents of the manuscripts, search engines, and the usual ‘front matter’. See the Table of Contents.

The Foundation has been working for some time on a Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists. This Guide incorporates Kenneth Pennington’s Medieval and Early Modern Jurists: A Bio-Bibliographical Listing reformatted as a modern database and with the bibliographies considerably updated. It has been expanded to incorporate some civilians who were omitted from Pennington’s list, the principal focus of which was on canonists. All the manuscripts listed by Pennington are included, and there has been some updating here as well. There is much more to be done, but what we have is, we believe, worth presenting to the public. Gradually the authors that are in TUI 1584 will be brought into this guide.

The Foundation has also been working for some time on indexing and describing another large collection of material from the Harvard Law Library that have been digitized and placed online: two massive massive collections of printed treatises from the sixteenth century: the Tractatus ex variis iuris interpretibus collectorum (1549), published in Lyon, and the Tractatus Universi Iuris (1584–1586), published in Venice. Author files are now available for the first eight tomes of the latter, and author-title lists for the first eight tomes. See the Index of Contents.

The Foundation is pleased to announce:

The publication online of the second volume in its new ‘eseries’: Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies: An Annotated Digital Catalogue, edited by Sharon O'Connor and Mary Bilder with the assistance of Charles Donahue, Jr. A paper version is also available. This publication received the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award by the Association of American Law Libraries in 2015.

The publication online of the first volume in the ‘eseries’, The Spoils of the Pope and the Pirates, 1357: The Complete Legal Dossier from the Vatican Archives, edited by Daniel Williman and Karen Ann Corsano. A paper version is also available.

That final page proofs of The Register of the Official of the Bishop of Ely: 21 March 1374 – 28 February 1382, edited by Marcia Stentz and Charles Donahue, Jr., are now available on this site. The official digital publication and publication of the paper version should follow during this calendar year.


Paper Publications

On-line publications – the ‘eseries’ (PDF or HTML)

Final page proofs of another volume in this series: The Register of the Official of the Bishop of Ely: 21 March 1374 – 28 February 1382, edited by Marcia Stentz and Charles Donahue, Jr., have now been posted online.

Volumes in the eseries are also available in hard-bond paper copies.

On-line publications – databases and miscellaneous

Digital projects that are in the works include a conversion to database form and transfer to a webserver of Kenneth Pennington’s Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval Canonists.

On-line publications – manuscripts and early printed books

The following digital publications (in many cases undertaken jointly with the Harvard Law School Library) do not, again for the most part, have complete metadata. We are working on it. The images are, however, in all cases, available for those who want to look at them and/or to try to find things in them on their own. In some cases, the metadata may be better than you expect.

On-line publications – manuscripts not yet ‘published’

The link here takes you directly to the Harvard University Library’s Page Delivery Service. All of them have sequence numbers for the images; some of them have folio numbers matched to the sequence numbers; the metadata for MS 189 and 220 are considerably better than that.

General Information

Related Web sites


Direct written correspondence to:

Charles Donahue
c/o The Ames Foundation
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, MA 02138

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This page last updated 09/05/18 . Contact Rosemary Spang with comments.
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Image of James Barr Ames courtesy of Harvard Law School Art Collection.
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