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Turkish Law – Global Legal Collection Highlights

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This is a guest post by Wendy Zeldin, Senior Legal Research Analyst in the Global Legal Research Center (GLRC), Law Library of Congress.  It is part of our Global Legal Collection Highlights series.

A broad search of the Library of Congress catalog, using “Turkey OR Ottoman AND law” retrieves, as one might imagine, a range of unexpected results.  For example, among the documents from about a century ago is a photograph of one of the first American women photographers, Frances Benjamin Johnston, sitting in a carriage in Constantinople (Istanbul).  The men are wearing the traditional Turkish fez, which had not yet been banned under the Hat Law of 1925 (Şapka İktisası Hakkında Kanun, Law No. 671 of November 25, 1925).  The Hat Law was adopted by the newly established Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey to require all Turkish citizens to wear Western-style hats and to proscribe religious headgear, as part of the efforts of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to modernize the country.

Turkey has a modern National Library, replete with a website with some English-language features.  The sultans of the Ottoman empire also had an elegant library in Topkapi Palace.  The Library of Sultan Ahmer III is pictured below in photographs taken from the inside during the Ottoman empire and from the outside in modern-day Turkey:

The Sultan Ahmed III Library in the Imperial Topkapı Palace. (Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)


Photo by Wendy Zeldin.










There is also a library in Topkapı’s Imperial Baghdad Pavilion, built by Sultan Murad IV (ruled 1623-1640) to celebrate his recapture of Baghdad in 1638.  He sent “a vaunting, daring, and a menacing letter” to the King of Poland that same year, a letter that was published contemporaneously in London.  Murad has been represented in various art forms to this day, including an opera and a TV miniseries.

Interior view of the library of the Imperial Baghdad Pavilion. (Source: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.)

The Law Library of Congress collection of Turkish law has over 4,000 items in Turkish, English, and other languages.  The items in Western languages range from early general monographs, such as

to modern general monographs on the Turkish legal system, such as

The latter encompasses a wide swath of legal material, from Chapter 1 on “Sources of Turkish Law,” to chapters on constitutional law, administrative law, family law, law of succession, criminal law, and law of procedure, among other topics.

Some monographs on specific aspects of Turkish law are:

Some of the translations of laws and regulations in the Law Library collection include:

These are complemented by a number of online sources for Turkish laws in English translation, such as Legislationline, the World Bank Doing Business Law Library, the World Intellectual Property Organization website, and the International Labour Organization’s NATLEX database.

The catalog search for Turkish law also incorporates a number of listings in which “Turkey” is covered as a chapter in a work on comparative law, for example:

Among the Law Library’s Turkish law journals (53 are listed), there are a few in English, such as the Ankara University Faculty of Law’s Ankara Law Review, which is now available online, and the Digesta Turcica (journal of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations).  Argumentum, published by Marmara University Faculty of Law, is mostly in Turkish but has some English articles.  Istanbul University’s Hukuk Fakültesi mecmuası (Journal of the Faculty of Law) is mostly in Turkish but has some French and German articles.

After reading all of the books above, it might be a good idea to sit back and relax on a cruise on the Bosporus:

Photo by Wendy Zeldin


Comments (3)

  1. Thanks for posting this. I am doing a program today at the Chicago Bar Association International and Foreign Law Committee, and I’ll use this as an example of the resources available through the Law Library of Congress (and the In Custodia Legis Blog).

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mark. I’m delighted that the blog is of use to you!

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