Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Constitutional Law and History Research Guide

This guide covers sources that are useful for researching Constitutional law and Constitutional history.

Introduction

Each state is governed by its own constitution. State constitutions vary in length and scope and, unlike the federal Constitution, they are generally broader in scope and are amended more frequently. State constitutional research is similar to federal constitutional research. As with the federal constitution, a variety of online and print resources provide access to the states' constitutional texts as well as notes of court decisions, commentary, and historical documents. 

Finding State Constitutional Texts

Most states provide online access to its constitution on their state legislative body's website. See our Research Guides by Jurisdiction for more information on state law resources.

In addition, the text of current and historical state constitutions can be found at the following resources:

Annotated Codes/Constitutions & Caselaw

Additionally, state statutory codes often include its current state constitution. Annotated state codes and/or constitutions are available on Westlaw and Lexis:

Finding Additional Resources (Databases)

The following resources are useful places to look for additional secondary sources on State Constitutional Law topics:

Secondary Sources: Texts & Treatises

When researching an issue or area of law for the first time, we suggest you begin with a secondary source such as a legal encyclopedialegal treatise, or ALR.  Though not comprehensive, this section highlights some specific sources to consider.

Finding Additional Resources (Catalog)

Expand your search by using subject headings in the law library's catalog to locate more sources.  Relevant subject headings from our catalog include:

  • Constitutions -- United States -- States
  • Constitutional amendments -- United States -- States
  • Constitutional conventions -- United States -- States
  • Constitutional history -- United States -- States
  • Constitutional law -- United States -- States
  • Constitutional law -- [State] (e.g. Constitutional Law -- Florida)
  • [State] Constitution (e.g. Louisiana Constitution)
  • [State] Constitutional Convention (e.g. Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention)

Catalog Searching Tips: To search materials in the catalog by subject, use our Advanced Search. Select "subject" in the first drop-down box, then enter a subject heading (such as one of the above) in the corresponding search box.  You can run the search alone or include additional terms in additional search boxes below.  To find books, it may help to first narrow your search to "Law Library Catalog" or "Georgetown Univ. + Local Academic Libraries" using one of the radio buttons at the top of the page.  After running a search, you can sort by "Date-newest first" on the left to put the most recent materials at the top.  You can also narrow your results to books only on the left under "Resource Type."

Study Aids