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Johann Casper Bluntschli collection

Identifier: MS-0140

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Scope and Contents

The Bluntschli Collection consists of lectures, student notes, research notes, notebooks, autographs, book reviews and newspaper clippings. The collection spans the years 1823-1884.

Johann Caspar Bluntschli was a scholar of Swiss and German jurisprudence. The student notes represent his methodic training in the source of law, Roman law. His later lectures, legal briefs, and research notes are a source for studying the development of Bluntschli's interpretation of Swiss and German legal questions. The handwritten drafts of Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte der Stadt und Landschaft Zurich and the article "Die historische Schule deutscher Juristen" (which first appeared in Arnold Reigers Halleschen Jahrbuch of October 1839) invite comparison with the published works.


  • Creation: 1750-1884


Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Johann Caspar (also Kaspar) Bluntschli was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1808. In 1826-1827 he studied Roman Law at the Political Institute of Zurich under Professor F.L. Keller. He received his university training in Berlin in 1827-1828 under F. C. Savigny, Carl Ritter, G. Phillips, and Professors Rudorff and August Bockh, and continued in Bonn under Berthold Niebuhr, Tugge, and J.C. Hasse (1828-1829). After a winter in Paris, he returned to Zurich in 1830. He began that year to lecture on Roman Law in the Political Institute. At the same time, he became a secretary of the Government and a practicing lawyer. In 1831, he published Das Volk und der Souveran. In 1833, Bluntschli became Associate Professor and in 1836 Professor in the newly founded University of Zurich. His Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte der Stadt und Landschaft Zurich was published in 1838-1839; Geschichte des Republik Zurich in 1847; and in 1846-1848 his Geschichte des Schweizerischen Bundesrechts. He was commissioned by the Great Council of Zurich, whose membership he joined in 1837, to prepare a civil code for the canton. He prepared the Code and it was adopted almost without change in 1853.

Bluntschli was called to the University of Munich in 1848. There, he devoted his energies to political science and German jurisprudence. In 1852 he published Allegemeine Staatsrecht, which was revised in 1875 as Lehre vom modernen Staat. Another work which Bluntschli started in Munich (1857) and finished in Heidelberg (1870) was Deutsches Staatsworterbuch.

In 1861 Bluntschli went to the University of Heidelberg, received appointment to the Upper House of the Baden Diet and was made a Privy Councillor. An advocate of the constitutional reforms of Baden in 1864, Bluntschli also spoke out early for German unity. He was for many years President of the Grand Synod of Baden, and was chosen first President of the Institut de Droit International.

Johann Kaspar Bluntschli died suddenly on October 21, 1881.


4.92 Cubic Feet (8 letter size document boxes, 4 legal size document boxes)

Language of Materials



Johann Caspar (also Kaspar) Bluntschli (1808–1881) was a Swiss jurist and politician. The Bluntschli Collection consists of lectures, student notes, research notes, notebooks, autographs, book reviews and newspaper clippings. The collection spans the years 1823-1884.


The collection is divided into ten series: student notes; Verfassungs-Commission minutes; lectures; law case briefs; research notes; manuscript copies of Swiss laws; writings; letters; autographs and biographical material.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Bluntschli library, consisting of bound volumes, pamphlets and manuscripts, was presented to the Johns Hopkins University in 1883. Members of the German-American community in Baltimore, among them Colonel F. Raine, editor of the Deutsche Correspondent and C.F. Raddatz of Baltimore City College, purchased the material from Bluntschli's estate and donated the collection. For details about this purchase, see the Herbert Baxter Adams Papers, MS.0004. The donors chose Hopkins in recognition of the University's committment to the German scholastic model. Also, Herbert Baxter Adams of the Hopkins' history department, had studied under Bluntschli while a student in Heidelberg.

Related Materials

The bulk of Bluntschli's papers are in the Bluntschli Archiv, Stadtsbibliothek, Zurich.

Separated Materials

In the fall of 1988, it was realized that Bluntschli's collection of pamphlets on Switzerland, international law, and international politics had been bound together in the History Pamphlets. This collection was found housed in Gilman Storage under the call number D1.A, consisting of all the pamphlets collected in the Historical Seminary Library. In the 1940s, they were bound, keeping the classification system begun by Herbert Baxter Adams. When the Bluntschli library was given, the material was kept separate from the rest of the seminary holdings. Sometime after Adams's death, probably during the move into Gilman Hall, the Bluntschli material was integrated.

These pamphlets have since been transferred to the Rare Books division of Special Collections, and are housed separately from this manuscript collection. They are available under call number D1 .A; other Bluntschli pamphlets are available under call number JX2775.B63.

Books, also part of the original gift, are also housed separately. Contact Special Collections for more information on accessing these additional materials.


An early description of this collection can found in the Johns Hopkins University Circular of 1883.

Bluntschli's autobiography, titled Denkwurdiges aus meinem Leben, appeared in 1848. Additional biographical information may be found there, as well as in two pamphlets by Daniel Coit Gilman and Henry Baxter Adams: Bluntschli, Lieber and Laboulaye and Bluntschli's Life Work (1884). Copies of these pamphlets may be found in Box 1 in the folder marked "Biographical Information."

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Margaret N. Burri in 1987. Liz Beckman revised the Abstract, Biographical note, Separated materials note, Immediate source of acquisition, and folder inventory in this finding aid in November 2023 to bring them into compliance with Johns Hopkins guidelines for inclusive and conscientious description (2023). The previous version of the finding aid is available upon request.

Guide to the Johann Casper Bluntschli collection
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA