About the Historical Document Digitisation Program
In 2006, the SCQL initiated the Historical Document Digitisation Program to conserve original documents relating to Queensland’s legal heritage. Drawing from a range of archival material, it seeks to build a diverse and interesting collection of historical records, illustrating the legal, economic, political and social development of this State.
The establishment of such a Program was facilitated by an amendment to the Supreme Court Library Act 1968 in 2005 (see Justice and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2005), which allows the Library to receive and preserve historic documents without affecting any legal professional privilege attached to documents. Access to such material is restricted to items required for educational or historical purposes and that are older than 100 years.
SCQL is producing high resolution images of documents using an archival-quality digital scanner, which are preserved together with full text transcripts to facilitate convenient full-text searching and retrieval. Material will be published online in the future, as permissible under the amended Act.
Feez Ruthning Collection of Opinion Books
The first digitisation project under the Program is the significant collection of Feez Ruthning Opinion Books, deposited with the Library by Allens Arthur Robinson in 2006. The volumes date from 1874 and contain more than 1500 opinions drafted by some of Queensland's most respected jurists, including Samuel Griffith, Charles Lilley, Patrick Real, Charles Stumm, Virgil Power and William Shand. It is expected that the digitisation of these documents will illuminate previously hidden aspects of Queensland’s historical development and will prove an invaluable source for future researchers.
In partnership with the judiciary, members of the legal profession, other cultural institutions and the wider community, the SCQL will expand its collection of legal heritage documents and ensure preservation through digitisation.
Material to be digitised in the future will include the Gibbs, McPherson and Woolcock collections, as well as judicial biographies and early Queensland cases and legislation.
Under the protection of the new legislation, law firms and individuals are encouraged to consider depositing historical records with the SCQL to guarantee preservation for future generations.
For further information, please contact the Supreme Court Librarian .