One Text, Sixteen Manuscripts

Magna Carta at the Harvard Law School Library

First written in 1215, the ideas of liberty and human rights contained in and derived from England’s Magna Carta (the Great Charter) have persisted for 800 years. They have provided inspiration for developments in law now enshrined in constitutions and treaties across the world. The survival and resonance of those ideas is reflected in the manuscripts currently on display in our exhibit "One Text, Sixteen Manuscripts: Magna Carta at the Harvard Law School Library."

One Text, Sixteen Manuscripts poster

Tangible items like these manuscripts connect us with the past and allow us to approach the people who created, used and treasured these documents. Each manuscript tells a different story and raises many questions. Why have they survived when so many others did not? When did they become objects of veneration? Did earlier collectors value them for the same reasons we collect them now?


Come see these objects in person or explore our digitized copies of Magna Carta and other statutory compilations.