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Georgetown Law Library

Guide to Legal History Databases

This is a guide to the databases and electronic resources accessible for legal history research.

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Start With These Databases

Start your research with these databases, as they are the most comprehensive, cover a wide selection of topics and time periods, and can help you refine your research terms for the more specific databases.

Periodicals & Newspapers

British Periodicals (17th-early 20th centuries)

Facsimile page images and searchable full text for nearly 500 British periodicals published from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. Some useful newspapers covered here are

  • The Gentleman's Magazine (1731-[1907])
  • The Historical Register (1717-1739)
  • Anti-Jacobin Review and Protestant Advocate, or Monthly Political and Literary Censor, formerly Anti-Jacobin Review and True Churchman's Magazine, or Monthly Political and Literary Censor and Anti-Jacobin Review, True Churchman's Magazine and Protestant Advocate, or Monthly Political and Religious Censor (1798-1821)

Topics covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts, archaeology, architecture, and the social sciences.

Times Digital Archives (London Times, 1785-1985)

Searchable, electronic version of The Times, Britain's newspaper of record, essential for primary source research in British history, politics, and culture. Provides a complete full-text and full-image archive of The Times from 1785 to 1985.

17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers

The Burney Collection, sourced from the British Library, is an archive of newspapers and news pamphlets (approximately 1,270 titles) gathered by Reverend Charles Burney (b. 1757-d. 1817). Although the majority of materials were published in London, there are some English provincial, Irish and Scottish papers, as well as a handful of examples from the American colonies.

19th Century British Pamphlets (JSTOR)

Database of digitized pamphlets that are primary sources with which to study the socio-political and economic landscape of 19th century Britain. Contains: Bristol Selected Pamphlets, Cowen Tracts, Earl Grey Pamphlets Collection, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Collection, Hume Tracts, Knowsley Pamphlet Collection, LSE Selected Pamphlets.

19th Century Masterfile

19th Century Masterfile features an integrated and enhanced version of Poole's Index to Periodical Literature as its centerpiece, rounded out by a number of other general and publication-specific indexes to the contents of nineteenth-century journals, newspapers, and books. Includes Jones & Chipman's Index to Legal Periodical Literature (1786-1922), Palmer's Index to the Times (London) (1880-1890) and other indices.

American Periodicals Series Online, 1740-1900 (ProQuest)

American Periodicals Series Online contains digital images of historically significant American periodicals from 1740 to 1900, including literary and professional journals, children's and women's magazines, and popular magazines. Allows searching by article type (e.g., letter, obituary, poetry, recipe, ad, editorial cartoon, review).

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Baltimore Sun 

Coverage from 1837-1985.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chicago Tribune

Coverage from 1849-1987.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Los Angeles Times

Coverage from 1881-1987.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: New York Times

Coverage from 1851-2006.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Wall Street Journal

Coverage from 1889-1991.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Washington Post

Coverage from 1877-1993.

Early American Newspapers, Series I , 1690-1876

Early American Newspapers, Series 1 (1690-1876) offers cover-to-cover reproductions of over 710 historic American newspapers, providing more than one million pages as fully text-searchable facsimile images. Focusing largely on the 18th and early 19th centuries, this online collection is based on Clarence S. Brigham's History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 and other authoritative bibliographies. Although the database title indicates coverage stops in 1876 there are many issues available of some newspapers well into the 20th century.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

This database allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1880-1922 and find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). Currently, you can view pages from the following states: Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

JSTOR

Journal STORage -- full text backfiles of significant scholarly journals. See list of titles currently available.

WilsonWeb Journal Indexes

This database is a gateway to a large number of full-text journal and journal index databases. They can be searched individually and in combination. They include:

  • Art Full Text
  • Art Retrospective
  • Book Review Digest Plus
  • Humanities & Social Sciences Retrospective
  • Humanities Index
  • Legal Periodicals & Books
  • Legal Periodicals Retrospective
  • Readers' Guide Retrospective
  • Social Sciences Index

Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)

Provides full text for over 4,600 publications covering academic areas of study including social sciences, humanities, education, and linguistics, arts & literature, medical sciences, and ethnic studies. Over 8,200 titles are abstracted and indexed, of which approximately 3,600 are peer-reviewed. Coverage: 1975 ‹ present.

Primary Sources Databases

These databases provide access to full-text materials from the Middle Ages to the present: handwritten manuscripts, early printed treatises, pamphlets, etc. Some of these materials are not legal materials, but still provide many resources from the legal world.

British History Online

Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.

British Parliamentary Papers Online, Hansard, 1803-2005 (Lauinger Library)

Available via the Lauinger Library (main campus) database collection, this is a full-text digitization project to give access to the reports of debates in Parliament.

Early American Imprints (Series I): Evans, 1639-1800

Taken from the Evans American Bibliography, this full-text database collection contains all known existing books, pamphlets, and broadsides printed in the United States or in the British American colonies before Independence from 1639 through 1819.

Early American Imprints (Series II): Shaw & Shoemaker, 1801-1819

Early American Imprints (EAI) Series II provides full-text access to the 36,000 American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the first nineteen years of the nineteenth century. Based on the authoritative bibliography by Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker and supplemented by thousands of new items, this database contains many state papers and government materials, including published reports; presidential letters and messages; and congressional, state and territorial resolutions.

Early English Books Online (EEBO)

This is a full-text electronic collection of images of all books, pamphlets, and broadsides published in the English language in any country from 1475 through 1700. It includes the works listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (printed materials published in English from 1475 to 1640); Wing'sShort-Title Catalogue (printed materials published in English from 1641 to 1700); and Thomason Tracts (compendium of broadsides on the English Civil War printed between 1640 and 1661).

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

Digital images of over 180,000 books published during the 18th Century. Includes full-text searching of approximately 26 million pages. Covers the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.

English Reports (1220-1867) HeinOnline

This is a full-text database of the 176 volumes of the English Reports, Full Reprint along with its "Index of Cases" and "Index Chart." This is also available through LLMC, and on a two volume CD-ROM set in Special Collections. Access the Statutes of the Realm, 1220-1713 via HeinOnline‰sEnglish Reports.

FirstSearch (WorldCat)

Access to over 70 online databases. Use FirstSearch to access the Inter-Library Loan system (ILL).

HeinOnline

HeinOnline provides legal researchers with collections of the earliest legal periodicals and other legal classics that are out-of-print or hard to obtain in hardcopy. It includes:

  • Law Journal Library ‹ full-text access to most American, and some foreign law journals, from the 19th century to the present
  • English Reports, Full Reprint (1220-1867) ‹ full-text access to all printed Nominatives
  • Statutes of the Realm (1235-1713) ‹ access via English Reports. See also Justis
  • Legal Classics
  • Selden Society Publications and the History of Early English Law
  • Session Laws Library ‹ includes current and historical laws, for some states. Continuously updated
  • Taxation & Economic Reform in America: A Historical Archive, 1781-2009
  • U.S. Congressional Documents
  • U.S. Statutes at Large
  • World Trials Library

Justis UK Statutes

The Justis UK Statutes database (with JustCite add-on) contains the full text of all Acts of Parliament in England, Wales and Scotland as enacted from 1235 to the present day. UK Statutes is the only statute law database to contain Scottish Acts of Parliament and repealed legislation. All Acts appear as enacted, with links to amended and amending legislation allowing the user to trace the development of the law. A notable feature of the Justis services is the JustCite tabs, which provide users with a visual display of the path of legislation. (NB: Georgetown does not subscribe to Justis content other than UK Statutes and JustCite.)

Legal History: The Year Books

David J. Seipp, comp. An Index and Paraphrase of Printed Year Book Reports, 1268 -1535 (Seipp's Abridgement)

Year Books are the law reports of medieval England. The earliest examples date from about 1268, and the last in the printed series are for the year 1535. The Year Books are the principal source materials for the development of legal doctrines, concepts, and methods from 1290 to 1535, a period during which the common law developed into recognizable form. More than 22,000 individual reports or 'pleas' have been printed, and others remain in manuscript. This database indexes all year book reports printed in the chronological series for all years between 1268 and 1535, and many of the year book reports printed only in alphabetical abridgements. Of these reports, almost 6,000 from 1399 forward have been fully indexed and paraphrased in this database. (Legal History: The Year Books). This database is keyword searchable, but be aware that you may have to chose your search terms very carefully. Knowledge of Law-French and Latin is helpful. A bibliography is included.

LLMC Digital

Electronic database of historical legal materials containing case reporters, statutes of the U.S. and selected foreign nations, U.S. government documents, and many other legal materials. A rich source for legal history researchers, but a bit cumbersome to use.

Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800-1926

Full-text searchable collection of 21,000 British and American legal treatises from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 10 million+ pages available in this database are viewable as PDF images. Content was originally published in these microfilm sets: Nineteenth-Century Legal Treatises and Twentieth-Century Legal Treatises.

Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1620-1926

The materials here are primarily from the Harvard and Yale law libraries. The Harvard collection contains a vast number of popular printed accounts of sensational trials for murder, adultery, and other scandalous crimes.

Making of Modern Law: The Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature, 1450-1850

MOMW is a collection of digital facsimile page images from more than 61,000 books from the period 1460-1850, and 466 pre-1906 serials. It focuses on economics interpreted in the widest sense, including political science, history, sociology, and special collections on banking, finance, transportation and manufacturing. Coverage: 1450-1850.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is an illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the fourth century BC to the year 2001. It excludes living persons. It has themed entries (e.g. Roman Britain) and groups of subjects with a common attribute (e.g. Archbishops of Canterbury). The database contains 10,000 images. The print edition is in the Williams Law Library's Reference collection.

Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, 1674 to 1913 (OBSP)

Also called, the Old Bailey Sessions Proceedings, The Proceedings of the Old Bailey is a fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of close to 200,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.

ProQuest

Search multiple ProQuest periodicals databases simultaneously, including ABI/INFORM (business, economics, and finance periodicals), ProQuest Newspapers, Ethnic NewsWatch, GenderWatch, Hoover's Company Profiles, ProQuest Science Journals, ProQuest Social Sciences Journals, and more.

CD-ROMs in Special Collections

State Trials (Howell's State Trials, Cobbett's State Trials), 1163-1820

Available in microfilm in Media, in original format in Special Collections, and in Special Collections on a CD-ROM, the State Trials are a set of reports on infamous trials that are not available through the English Reports. Contact the Special collections Librarian for use and details.

English Reports on CD-ROM

Although the english Reports are available online through Hein Online and LLMC Digital, you can also access them via a CD-ROM set available only in Special Collections. These are identical to the online and print version, but searcheable in a different way, and sometimes more useful to use.

The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England (1272-1504)

This CD-ROM has full-text and translations of the meetings of the English parliaments from Edward I to Henry VII. these images are fully searcheable, but only available via the CD-ROM in Special Collections.

Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, 1628-1686

This CD-ROM has full-text and images of the records of the Massachusetts colony for a critical period in English colonial history.