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United States Treaties Added to the Law Library Website

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We have added the United States Treaty Series, compiled by Charles I. Bevans, to our online digital collection.  This collection includes treaties that the United States signed with other countries from 1776 to 1949. The collection consists of 13 volumes: four volumes of multilateral treaties, eight volumes of bilateral treaties and one volume of an index.

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Multilateral treaties are signed by the United States and at least two other countries and are organized chronologically. Bilateral treaties are organized by the one country with whom the United States signed the treaty and then in chronological order. The countries are in alphabetical order beginning with Afghanistan and ending with Zanzibar. The index has subjects and countries and can be used by browsing or finding your search terms through a “Ctrl + F” search of the PDF.

Multilateral treaties include many topics. I find it fascinating to see how the topics change throughout the years. Some interesting recurrent topics include sanitation, the sea, coffee, and whaling. They also show the emerging international cooperation in treaties about Universal Postal Unions, Pan American Union, and telecommunications. International cooperation became more organized in the later years with treaties about the League of Nations, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organization, and International Labor Organization. The multilateral treaties also include strategic and armistice agreements from the world wars, including the Treaty of Versailles, and the outcomes of the Tehran Conference, the Cairo Conference, the Yalta Conference, and the Potsdam Conference.

Signing Peace Treaties. Photograph shows William Jennings Bryan, seated at center of table, signing treaties with, from left, ambassadors Don Juan Riano (Spain), J.J. Jusserand (France), Sir Cecil Arthur Spring-Rice (Great Britain), and Kai fu Shah (China). [between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915]. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division //
Signing of the Peace Treaty. In the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles, France, June 28, 1919. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division //

Bilateral treaties include recurrent topics as varied as friendship, peace, and amity; diplomatic and consular relations; immigration, naturalization, and extradition; commerce, navigation, and economic cooperation; intellectual property; health and sanitation, food, and drugs; exchange of publications and reciprocal trade; and boundaries. Many more treaties are included that are specific to the issues between the country and the U.S. at the time.

One of the most interesting things in these early treaties is the different countries with whom the United States signed treaties, especially those that no longer exist. In these volumes you can find treaties the U.S. signed with the Republic of Texas and the Hawaiian Islands before they became states. The U.S. also signed treaties with the Orange Free States, Sardinia, Lagos, Algiers, the Ottoman Empire, and the German Republics before Germany unified.

For help with researching treaties, see the U.S. Treaties Beginner’s Guide or Ask a Librarian. We will continue to add later years from 1950 to 1982 from the United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (T.I.A.S.). Stay tuned for announcements on more digital projects!

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