Researching legal history requires a different set of skills and materials than traditional legal research. The books in the general overview section are useful both as substantive accounts of American legal history and examples of seminal works in the field, demonstrating strong methodological approaches to their subjects. Some of the resources in this guide may be familiar. There are useful legal history resources in both LexisNexis and HeinOnline. However, you should not end your research there. Make sure to check the section on Historical Research Databases, which contains abundant resources less familiar to many law students.
Encyclopedias and Biographical Resources
Historical Research Databases
- America: History and Life is an index to research in US and Canadian history.
- JSTOR is a digital archive containing 6147 history journals (as of August 8, 2013), including: The American Journal of Legal History, the American Historical Review, and the Law & Society Review.
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.
- Avalon Project. Yale University's Avalon Project contains documents dating back to the 1800s, covering subjects such as law, politics, history and economics.
- LLMC (Law Library Microfilm Consortium). From their Mission Statement: "LLMC is a non-profit cooperative of libraries dedicated to the twin goals of, preserving legal titles and government documents..." See their digital collections for preserved materials.
- DigitalGeorgetown. "DigitalGeorgetown is the unified portal for Georgetown University’s institutional repository and digital collections, providing online access to scholarly academic resources, rare and unique digitized special collections, and more."
Early American Legal History, 1600-1880
- G. Edward White, Law in American history
- Morton Horwitz, The Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860
- William J. Novak, The People's Welfare: Law and Regulation in Nineteenth Century America
- Sally E. Hadden and Alfred L. Brophy, eds., A companion to American legal history
- Kunal M. Parker, Common law, history, and democracy in America, 1790-1900 : legal thought before modernism
- Robert M. Reed, Colonial law in America
- Christopher L. Tomlins and Bruce H. Mann, eds., The many legalities of early America
- Peter Charles Hoffer, Law and people in colonial America
- William E. Nelson, The common law in colonial America
- David Hackett Fischer, Albion's seed: four British folkways in America
- Melvin I. Urofsky, Paul Finkelman, eds., Documents of American constitutional and legal history
- Morris L. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law
- Herbert A. Johnson, Imported eighteenth-century law treatises in American libraries, 1700-1799
The New Deal
For a good general overview of the New Deal, see Eric Rauchway's The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction. Rauchway includes a very helpful table of the Major federal acts of the Great Depression and the New Deal.