American Legal History Research Guide

This research guide in American legal history includes materials dealing with settlement through the twentieth century.


Welcome to the Georgetown University Law School’s research guide for American Legal History.  Georgetown University offers a wealth of resources related to legal history research.  This guide is designed to help patrons access the University’s materials both via print and online access to various databases of digitized materials.

The library has a substantial collection of American legal history materials in several locations.  The materials housed in the Special Collections Department of the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library are noted in the library catalog with a location of SPEC COLL and a status of SCCR Use Only indicating that Special Collections items may be used only in the Special Collections Reading Room (Williams 210).  There are also many useful resources in the library’s microform collection as well as electronic sources for research.

If you are a member of the Georgetown University community, please feel free to schedule a research consultation with the Special Collections Librarian.  Patrons may also seek assistance from the Reference Desk.

Navigate the pages at the side (or top, if you are on a mobile device) of this guide to find in depth sources, many primary in nature, regarding specific eras of note in legal history as well as a great set of locations to begin your research.  Aside from those detailed sections of the guide, don’t forget to explore the following broader resources.  Starting with the library’s own catalog there are a variety of ways to find and access materials from the Edward Bennett Williams Law Library page.  You can also use the WorldCat database, a mega-catalog database, to locate resources which may not be available at the Law Center, and then use our Inter-Library Loan service to request the resources which you need. Among the useful research resources available here in the library are Lexis NexisWestlawHeinOnline, Index to Legal Periodicals, Index to Legal Periodicals Retro, JSTOR, Academic Search Premier and Project Muse. While individual sources of note will often be specifically identified throughout this guide, it is of critical importance to search generally through the aforementioned resources (particularly HeinOnline) as the offerings they have cannot be indexed wholly within a research guide.  When researching American legal history, consult early English print and electronic resources which are very useful and relevant. Links to these resources are interspersed throughout this guide as well.

Special Collections

Special Collections Photo

Special Collections
Williams Law Library, 2nd floor

Update History

Created 11/13 (ES & EK)
Updated 07/19 (ND)