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George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School

Legal History

Historical Sources

U.S. and British Historical Documents

Print:

Online Databases:

  • Artemis: Primary Sources - Allows researchers to cross-search various databases, including Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Making of Modern Law: Foreign, Comparative and International Law, Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources, Making of Modern Law: Trials, and Nineteenth Century Collections Online.
  • Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution - Includes historical and legal scholarship that draws upon sources to trace the Constitution’s progress through each of the thirteen states’ conventions.
  • HeinOnline - Contains U.S. Statutes at Large; Code of Federal Regulations; Federal Register Library; Session Laws Library; State Statutes: A Historical Archive; U.S. Code; U.S. Congressional Documents; U.S. Supreme Court Library; U.S. Treaties and Agreements; Scottish Legal History; and much more.
  • Historic Documents - Issued annually by Congressional Record Press since 1972, the Historic Document series provides full-text, primary sources covering each year's most significant events. Presidential speeches, international agreements, and Supreme Court decisions are among the sources included.
  • LLMC Digital - Includes historical U.S. primary documents from the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. 
  • Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources - Series I (1620-1926) contains published records of the American colonies, documents published by state constitutional conventions, state codes, city charters, law dictionaries, digests, and more. Series II (1763-1970) consists of United States state and territorial codes, municipal codes, and documents relating to constitutional conventions.
  • Nineteenth Century Collections Online - Provides access to unique primary source materials, including despatches from U.S. counsels and ministers, notes and selected records of U.S. consulates and legations, British cabinet papers from 1880 to 1916, and much more.
  • ProQuest Colonial State Papers - Provides access to thousands of papers that were presented to the Privy Council and the Board of Trade between the 16th and 18th centuries, and that relate to the governance of, and activities in, the American, Canadian and West Indian colonies of England. Also includes the Calendar of State Papers Colonial, an advanced bibliographic search tool providing over 40,000 records of bibliographic description.
  • ProQuest Congressional - Provides the full text of legislative and executive publications in searchable PDF format including Committee Prints (1817-present); Congressional Record (1789-present, 1985-present (daily)); House and Senate Hearings (1824-present); House and Senate Documents (1817-present); Bills (1789-present); Legislative Histories (1969-present); CRS Reports (1916-present); Serial Set (1789-present); and Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations (1789-present).

Internet Resources:

Historical Books & Periodicals

Online Databases:

  • 19th Century UK Periodicals: Series 1 - New Readerships - Covers the advent of commercial lifestyle publishing in Britain.
  • 19th Century UK Periodicals: Series 2 – Empire - Covers the role that Britain played as an imperial power throughout the 19th century.
  • American Periodicals - Contains digitized images of over 1,100 American magazines and journals that originated between 1740 and 1940.
  • Early English Books Online - Contains full-text images of more than 100,000 titles of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473 to 1700.
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online - Access over 180,000 titles consisting of every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom during the 18th century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas. Includes a digital collection of over 9,000 legal treatises published in the British Empire from 1701 to 1800. 
  • HeinOnline - Contains legal journals from the 18th century to the present in the Law Journal Library, and 19th and early 20th century legal treatises and dictionaries in Legal Classics.
  • JSTOR - Search full-text of major historical journals from their first volumes up through recent years.
  • Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises - Provides over 22,000 British and American legal treatises published from 1800 to 1926.
  • Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources - Series I (1620-1926) contains published records of the American colonies, documents published by state constitutional conventions, state codes, city charters, law dictionaries, digests, and more. Series II (1763-1970) consists of United States state and territorial codes, municipal codes, and documents relating to constitutional conventions.
  • Nineteenth Century Collections Online - Provides access to unique primary source materials, including European literature from 1790 to 1840.

Internet Resources:

  • Digital Dictionaries: 1481-1916 Georgetown Law Library's online collection of digitized dictionaries.
  • Google Books - Full text of public domain books.
  • HathiTrust - Digital library of millions of titles.
  • Internet Archive - Digital library of over 6 million public domain books.
  • Making of America - Digital collections from Cornell University and University of Michigan on primary sources in American social history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Cornell University's Making of America contains 267 monograph volumes and over 100,000 journal articles. University of Michigan's Making of America contains approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles.
  • Online Library of Liberty - A collection from the Liberty Fund of over 1,000 historical titles on individual liberty, limited constitutional government, and the free market.

Historical Newspapers

Online Databases:

  • 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers - A collection of English news media, including newspapers, newsbooks, proclamations, and pamphlets.
  • 19th Century British Library Newspapers - Contains full runs of 48 newspapers that best represent 19th century Britain.
  • 19th Century U.S. Newspapers - Includes digitized images of both full pages and clipped articles for hundreds of 19th century U.S. newspapers.
  • Accessible Archives - Contains full-text collections of 18th and 19th century American newspapers, including African American Newspapers, American County Histories, Civil War Collection, Godey's Lady's Book, The Lily, History of Women Suffrage, National Citizen and Ballot Box, The Pennsylvania Gazette, The Revolution, and The Virginia Gazette.
  • Early American Newspapers, Series 1 and 2, 1690-1900 - Includes fully searchable issues from almost 1,000 historical American newspapers.
  • Gale NewsVault - Allows researchers to cross-search various collections, including 17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers, 19th Century British Library Newspapers, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers, Economist Historical Archive, and Times Digital Archive.
  • HarpWeek - Access digitized copies of Harper's Weekly, America's leading 19th century illustrated newspaper, from 1857-1912.
  • ProQuest Historical Newspapers - Full text of the Atlanta Constitution 1868-1945; Boston Globe 1872-1981; Chicago Defender 1910-1975, Chicago Tribune 1849-1988; Christian Science Monitor 1908-1998; Los Angeles Times 1881-1989; New York Times 1851-2009; Wall Street Journal 1889-1995; and Washington Post 1877-1996.
  • Times Digital Archive - A fully-searchable archive of The Times of London from 1785-1985.

Internet Resources:

  • Chronicling America –Library of Congress collection provides access to U.S. newspapers from 1836 to 1922. Also has a U.S. Newspaper Directory to locate specific newspapers published from 1690 to present. 
  • Google News Archive - Includes scanned images of newspapers as far back as the 1750s.

Historical Trials & Court Documents

Note: It might also be useful to search for newspaper accounts of court proceedings using the resources listed under “Historical Newspapers” and for published court documents using the resources listed under “Historical Books.”

Print:

Trial-related books are available on the third floor of the Law Library in Range 317. Search for titles in the Mason Library Catalog.

Online Databases:

  • HeinOnline - Includes Early American Case Law; English Reports; State Reports: A Historical Archive; and World Trials Library.
  • Making of Modern Law: Trials - Includes unofficially published accounts of trials; official trial documents, briefs and arguments; and official records of legislative proceedings, administrative proceedings, and arbitrations; plus documents from the Library of the Bar of the City of New York, from 1600 to 1926.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Records & Briefs, 1832-1978 - A digitized archive of court documents, including appellants', appellees' and amicus curiae briefs, plus records, for United States Supreme Court cases.

Historical Business Records

Online Databases:

  • Mergent Archives - Access an indexed collection of corporate and industry related documents, including Moody’s Manual back to 1909, annual reports back to 1925, and more.
  • ProQuest Historical Annual Reports – Includes annual reports for over 800 companies dating back to 1844.

Internet Resources:

Historical Statistics

Print:

Online Databases:

  • Cross-National Time-Series Data Archive - Contains statistical information on a range of countries, with data entries ranging from 1815 to the present. General categories include demographic, social, political, and economic topics.
  • Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition Online - Include over 37,000 data series from over 1,000 sources, with sections on Population, Work and Welfare, Economic Structure and Performance, Economic Sectors, and Governance and International Relations.
  • Statesman's Yearbook Online - Provides concise geographic, historical, economic, political, social, and cultural overviews of each country in the world. Incorporates statistics from major international organizations. Covers 1864 to present.

Internet Resources:

  • U.S. Census Bureau - Provides scanned copies of Historical Statistics of the United States, 1789-1945, Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970, and Statistical Abstracts of the United States from 1878 to 2011.