About the Center

The Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center opened with the completion of a new addition to the Law School, and its rededication in 2001 as Walter F. Mondale Hall. It houses one of the strongest collections of rare law books in the United States, built up significantly in the first half of the twentieth century, and the Law School Archives. The heart of the Riesenfeld Center is the Pulling Rare Books Collection, which has particular strengths in historical English law, colonial American and early US law, and American Indian law, among several other collections. In addition, the Center holds the preeminent collection of letters and printed works by and related to the great American trial attorney, Clarence Darrow. For more information, please see a description of the Pulling Collection and the library’s collection development policy. For a virtual tour of highlights from the Pulling Collection, visit Treasures of the Riesenfeld Center, a digital exhibit curated by Katherine Hedin.

The Center is also home to the Law School Archives, documenting the Law School’s history and the work of its faculty. Material in the Archives includes work published by former and current faculty, certain papers of faculty, records of the Law School, and other manuscript collections. For more information, please see the Archives page.

Stefan A. Riesenfeld: A Biographical Note

The Riesenfeld Rare Books Research Center is named in honor of Stefan A. Riesenfeld (1909-1999), a noted American legal academic of the past century and a professor at the Law School. Riesenfeld came to the United States after having received doctorates in law from Breslau and Milan, where he taught before escaping the increasingly difficult conditions of Germany and Italy. In the United States, he received further training and held research appointments at Berkeley and Harvard. By 1938, Riesenfeld was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota Law School, where he specialized in international and comparative law. Following his service in World War II, he returned to teach at Minnesota, before moving to Berkeley in 1952. Over an illustrious and storied career, Professor Riesenfeld published and edited over thirty books, contributing significantly to the fields of international and comparative law, administrative law, commercial law and legal history.