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Global History


Human Rights

This is a guide to topics in global history, focused on primary sources available at Boston College.

Human Rights in History

Human Rights as a legal concept really took off at the end of the Second World War and the development of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Even before that, however, people have been discussing related concepts such as human dignity for centuries.

This guide focuses the 20th and 21st centuries but has some material related to development of contemporary concept of "human rights."

What's on This Page

This page has a lot on it. You can use the following anchors (links down the page) to jump straight to a relevant box.

    Human Rights Institutions

    Large Digital Collections

    Specific Digital Collections

    Law & Gov. Docs


    Personal Papers

    Burns Box


    In our very own special collections library (Burns), you'll find a selection of material on your topic. Consider visiting the library and seeing history in your hands. To do so, you should start by searching for material through BC Libraries' catalog and then ordering it (if you haven't registered, you'll be prompted). For a guide on the process, check out the "Finding Burns Material" page.  You might also check out the following recommendations: 

    For Additional Help

    For additional recommendations, contact your History Liaison, Erin, at or schedule an appointment.