Explore SCOS by Repository

The Session Papers at the heart of SCOS are held by the University of Virginia Law Library and the Law Library of Congress. The UVA Law Library holds 58-linear feet of Session Papers preserved in archival boxes. Originally bound together in an unknown number of volumes, the majority of the Session Papers in the UVA Law Library's collection were disbound prior to their acquisition in the mid-1980s. Only a few volumes with their original bindings remain reasonably intact. By contrast, the Session Papers in the Law Library of Congress's collection remain bound together. Preliminary research indicates that the library acquired them sometime in the early twentieth century.


The UVA Law Library holds 58-linear feet of Session Papers. These documents date between 1757 and 1834. The majority of the documents were disbound sometime before the mid-1980s. While it is unclear why they were disassembled, they were separated in a manner that preserved the physical connection between a case's constituent documents. That choice, in conjunction with extensive marginalia on many of the documents as well as data sourced from BAILII, allowed SCOS researchers to establish or confirm the names of individual cases.

Each case and Session Paper in SCOS are tied to their physical archival containers through metadata. Each box contains a series of folders holding the documents of at least one case. Some folders contain more than one case when Session Papers representing multiple, yet distinct cases remain bound together.

Generally, SCOS silently displays each case found in its physical container as an individual unit irrespective of whether or not documents from different cases are bound together. UVALL Box 01 is a good example of this approach. Several individual cases remain stitched together and are held in the same archival folder, yet SCOS presents them individually. The marginalia may make it possible to reassemble these Session Papers in their original order. The SCOS team welcomes the opportunity to partner with collaborators on such a project.

The few surviving volumes in the UVA Law Library's collection required a different strategy. The individuals who collected, curated, and had bound Session Papers did so in ways specific to the interests of each owner. Volumes can include 1,000 printed pages or more, with documents arranged and hand indexed in a particular order.

The SCOS team is working to record and preserve those personal choices and reflect them in the digital project. UVALL Box 22 demonstrates this challenge. It holds four mostly intact volumes and part of a fifth volume. The bindings are original and in some instances the volume's label is intact. Each surviving volume in UVALL Box 22 has been assigned a volume number in SCOS to distinguish it from its siblings. Three of the five volumes represent one case each. UVALL Box 22 - Vol. 01, for example, is comprised solely of Hugh Rose v. Macleay's Trustees (1837). The remaining two volumes are interrelated. One bears the label, "Papers in Political Case, 1790-1," while the other reads "Election Papers." The two volumes contain many of the same cases, yet not necessarily the same documents. The original owners had the documents bound in a particular order and, in the case of "Papers in Political Cases, 1790-1," created a manuscript index to further organize each election case by Scottish shire.

SCOS strives to maintain the surviving volumes' integrity in three ways. First, SCOS maintains the relationship between a case and its parent volume. Second, each volume preserves the indexing strategy, if any, created by the original owner. For example, the digital presentation of UVALL Box 02 - Vol. 02 - Papers in Political Cases, 1790-1 mimics the hierarchy and structure of the creator's organizational scheme. The volume is divided into sub-collections following the owner's indexing strategy. Finally, each individual case document record includes an ordinal number to preserve the sequence of the Session Papers as they are found within each volume.

The SCOS case pages for each holding in the UVA Law Library's collection will be updated as additional documents are processed, researched, and fully described. Researchers can view individual case records by exploring the case catalogue for the UVA Law Library's Session Papers collection. Digital documents may be available for some cases not fully processed.

Presently, the following boxes are fully described with documents:

The following boxes include documents but not rich description:

  • UVALL Box 22 (This box has multiple sub-collections. Use the drop down menu to explore them.)

Explore The UVA Law Library Collection

Law Library of Congress

The Law Library of Congress holds seven volumes of Session Papers in its collections. The documents in these volumes date between 1777 and 1838. Six of the seven volumes are included in SCOS. The fifth volume is undergoing conservation.

The volumes have been rebound since the nineteenth century, although internal evidence does seem to suggest that the new binder preserved the documents in their original order. The documents are typically organized by case and they feature considerably less marginalia than the UVA Law Library's materials. The SCOS team has not yet attempted to reassemble them into coherent case records. Further research is required before that process can begin, including the identification of proper case names. Nevertheless, these Session Papers contain remarkable material, including the log book a ship partly crewed with (likely) enslaved men as well as the frank and intimate letters between a father, daughter, and her husband. SCOS makes LC's documents available now in the interest of creating new research opportunities.

Like the surviving volumes held by the UVA Law library, SCOS seeks to preserve the integrity of each LC volume. In light of the fact that the documents have yet to be reassembled into cases, and in the absence of any manuscript indices, SCOS presents the documents in the order in which they appear in each volume. Each case document record has been encoded with an ordinal number preserving them in sequence.

Future improvements to SCOS will include the reorganization of the LC materials into proper cases, but this work will not affect individual document citations.

Explore The Library of Congress Collection