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In Latin America, UC Chile has the best Roman law library

With 9,000 volumes, the library was donated by Dutch expert Hans Ankum several years ago and is considered an internationally recognized bibliographic collection by experts.

Professor Adolfo Wegmann amidst shelves full of books

photo_camera Professor Adolfo Wegmann (pictured) is the current coordinator of the UC Law Library. Photo by: Karina Fuenzalida

Eight years ago, on December 5, 2014, the authorities of the UC Chile Faculty of Law officially presented part of the bibliographical fund, included in a collection that would mark a milestone in Chile and the continent: Johan Albert "Hans" Ankum's personal library.  

The renowned Dutch jurist and academic was one of the world's most outstanding scholars of Roman law. 

This collection, which reaches nearly 9,000 volumes today, is considered the most important collection of Roman law in Latin America, according to numerous experts.  

“It is an exceptional collection, which positions our Law School at a global level in Roman law,” said the Law School Dean, Gabriel Bocksang. 

The Ankum collection is relevant because of the quality of volumes it contains and because it is on a par with other international specialized libraries in Europe and the United States.  

According to professor Adolfo Wegmann, coordinator of the Law Library, “The Ankum collection has the potential to position the Law School as a place of international relevance for research in Roman law, which is certainly a source of pride for a Latin American university.” 

Access to the Collection 

Professor of Roman Law Patricio Carvajal explained that “UC Chile is a leader in Roman Law on the continent, but the arrival of the Ankum fund put us on the global map for researchers”. 

The school is inviting national and international researchers to visit the collection and conduct academic research.  

Additionally, it is promoting academic activities that encourage reflection on disciplinary areas related to the collection. 

The School of Law is inviting national and international researchers to visit the most important collection of Roman law in Latin America, and conduct academic research.

People who are not part of UC but would like to review works for their research can send an e-mail to the coordinator of the Law Library, Professor Adolfo Wegmann (  

Who Was Hans Ankum? 

Johan Albert "Hans" Ankum (July 23, 1930 - June 3, 2019) was a prominent Dutch jurist and academic. He was a professor of Roman Law, History of Law, and Legal Papirology at the University of Amsterdam between 1965 and 1995. 

Ankum was born on July 23, 1930, in the city of Amsterdam, into a family of German origin.  

He completed his secondary studies in Zaandam, where he excelled in Greek and Latin. He then studied law and obtained his doctorate in 1962 at the University of Amsterdam with a thesis on the history of Pauline action.  

Dr. Ankum began his academic activity as a researcher in legal papyrology, a discipline of great prestige in the Netherlands. He was at the University of Leiden until 1965, when he moved to the University of Amsterdam. There he was called to be the Chair of Roman Law, History of Law, and Legal Papyrology as successor to his professor, Hendrik Richard Hoetink (1900-1963). He served as Chair until his retirement in 1995. 

During his lifetime, Ankum received numerous tributes and awards. He became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986 (which admits only one member per academic discipline), and received honorary doctorates from several European universities. 

After his retirement in 1995, two volumes were published in his honor, with the participation of the world's leading Romanists, in recognition of his career. 

In September 2013, Hans Ankum agreed to donate his collection to UC Chile. The Dean of the Law School at that time, Roberto Guerrero Valenzuela, and the Roman Law professors Patricio Carvajal and Carlos Amunátegui went to his home in Holland and closed the agreement with him. 

Ankum died in Haarlem on June 3, 2019, at the age of 88. 


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