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Explore World War I Declarations of War from Around the World

The Law Library of Congress is excited to bring you a collection of World War I declarations of war from around the world. If you’re not familiar with our collections, you might wonder how we came to acquire these century-old foreign legal materials. The reason is that, as the United States assumed a greater role in international affairs, the Law Library of Congress developed a special competency in foreign law to fulfill its mission to serve Congress. To support our foreign law specialty, the Law Library has, and continues to, collect legal materials from across the globe.  Approximately half of the 2.9 million volumes in our collection are foreign and comparative law materials. The Law Library relies on foreign legal specialists to read and interpret these legal materials for their respective jurisdictions in order to prepare law reports for Congress. You can read many of these reports on our site at Law.gov.

Ottoman Empire. Declaration of War Against Russia, France, and England, Nov. 11, 1914. //lccn.loc.gov/sn94094692

Ottoman Empire. Declaration of War Against Russia, France, and England, Nov. 11, 1914. //lccn.loc.gov/sn94094692

To join the Library of Congress in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, we asked our foreign legal specialists to locate declarations of war in the official gazettes for their jurisdictions so we could share them with you. Many of these materials are over one hundred years old and a few were published by empires that disappeared from the map at the close of World War I. This display is just a small part of the “Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I” exhibition. We hope you can visit the exhibit in Washington when it opens on April 4, 2017. In the meantime, you can explore the Library’s vast holdings related to the Great War through the new Library of Congress World War I topic page.

WWI Conscription and Conscientious Objectors in New Zealand

The following is a tale of World War I legal history with a literary twist.  (Working at the world’s largest library, with books on every subject, I could hardly leave the literary aspect out, could I?) I have previously written about New Zealand’s involvement in World War I, particularly in the Gallipoli campaign, and related […]

The Punishment for Falling Asleep at One’s Post

During a vacation in New Zealand in September, I was able to visit a new exhibition at Te Papa (New Zealand’s national museum) called Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War. The exhibition, which opened in April, provides insight into this particular aspect of World War I by telling the stories of eight New Zealanders involved […]

July 28, 1914 – State of War with Serbia Declared

This is a guest post by Jim Martin, senior legal information analyst at the Law Library of Congress.  Jim has written some of our most popular posts over the years including The Articles of Confederation.  On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Hapsburg presumptive heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his […]