Magna Carta May 1-June 15, 2015 An exhibit at the Harris County Law Library

Welcome to the Harris County Law Library's Magna Carta Digital Exhibit!

The Harris County Law Library is celebrating the anniversary of Magna Carta throughout the month of June with an exhibit highlighting the myriad of ways this iconic document impacts the American legal system today. The exhibit features a 1763 print of Magna Carta found in Ruffhead's Statutes at Large, the same edition found on the library shelves of America's founding fathers.

The Harris County Law Library originally debuted its Magna Carta exhibit on Law Day, May 1, 2015, in observance of the 800th anniversary of the day the original document was issued at Runnymede, England. During June 2017, you can see the 1763 Magna Carta again by visiting our downtown Houston location and explore the Digital Exhibit below for more information on Magna Carta, the Law Library's colonial-era print.


Magna Carta

Magna Carta, 1297 from the U.S. National Archives Featured Documents Exhibit. Click for more information.

Magna Carta, 1297 from the U.S. National Archives Featured Documents Exhibit. Click for more information.

Magna Carta, which is Latin for the "Great Charter," was first issued by King John of England as a peace treaty with rebellious barons threatening civil war. It was negotiated on neutral ground referenced in the document - "in the meadow that is called Runnymede." Over the course of the thirteenth century, the document was revised and reissued by subsequent monarchs until 1297. Thereafter, the 1297 version of the Magna Carta was included in English statutes and portions endure even today.

Through the centuries, Magna Carta has continued to influence legal concepts of Due Process, Trial by Jury, and other individual rights. Respected attorneys and politicians, including English jurists Sir Edward Coke and Sir William Blackstone, America's founding fathers, and U.S. Supreme Court justices, have referenced this document for its enduring legacy as a symbol for the rule of law. On Law Day, May 1, 2015, the American legal community celebrated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and its impact on the American justice system.


Magna Carta at the Harris County Law Library

Throughout the month of June 2017, a 252-year old print of Magna Carta from the Harris County Law Library's Historical Collection will be on display. This colonial-era print is the same edition found in the libraries of America's founding fathers and still bears the impressions of a printing press in its pages. Despite its age, it is still relatively young compared with the 800-year old text it holds. The enduring principles laid out in the original and passed to America's founding fathers can still be seen in legal works throughout the Law Library.

Visit the Law Library's 1763 Magna Carta page for more images of the publication that is on display through June 30, 2017.


Law Day, May 1, 2015 - Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law

Click to access ABA Law Day website.

Click to access ABA Law Day website.

Law Day is the annual celebration of the rule of law designated by Congress to occur each May 1st. In 2015, the American Bar Association's National Law Day Committee encouraged all Americans to celebrate the 800-year history of the Magna Carta as a "Symbol of Freedom Under Law." At the Harris County Law Library, we will celebrate Law Day with exhibits that trace the impact of the Magna Carta on modern law.

For more information on Law Day and Magna Carta, visit www.lawday.org.

Houston Bar Association Law Week Poster Contest on Display

The Houston Bar Association Law Week Committee regularly plans activities throughout the city to celebrate the Law Day theme for an entire week. For the 2015 Law Day rememberance, activities included a poster contest for local elementary school students and an essay contest for high school students focused on the importance of Magna Carta in the modern rule of law. Several of the posters and the first place essay are on display at the Law Library and photos are available here.