Legal History in the United States
With the exception of Louisiana, which continued to follow the (French) civil law system, the U.S. legal tradition were developed essentialy from the English common law system, with some influences of some Spanish law concepts and principles in several states (like New Mexico, Texas and California), including the “community property” idea inspired in castilian law and later in existence in the Spanish civil code.
- United States Supreme Court Digest, 1754 to Date.
- Century Edition of the American Digest covers 1658-1896, continued by Decennial Edition of the American Digest covering 1896-1906. The Decennial Digest series has continued to the present and is updated regularly.
- For historical statutes to be found, use citations from secondary sources and cases, and use indexes and tables in statutory sets.
- Index to the Federal Statutes, 1874-1931.
- Statutes at Large, the session laws of the United States Congress. Each volume contains an index.
- HeinOnline Statutes at Large Library, digitized archive beginning with volume 1.
- LLMC Digital includes digitized version of Index to the Federal Statutes, 1874-1931
- American State Trials is a 17-volume set of background and transcript segments from criminal trials in the United States from the 1600s to the early 1900s.
- (United States Congressional) Serial Set – Senate and House documents, reports, and Senate treaty documents for the period 1789-1969.
- A Century of Lawmaking: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875. Includes digitalized versions of the Statutes at Large, American State Papers, early volumes of the Serial Set, the Congressional Record and its precursor titles, House and Senate journals, and materials from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention.
- Yale Law Library Avalon Project: Text of important documents related to law, including constitutions, treaties, statutes, and papers
- Univ. of Oklahoma Law School Chronology of U.S. Historical Documents: Text of important documents, including presidential speeches, statutes, and founding documents
- Library of Congress American Memory Collection: Digital documents related to U.S. history to browse by topic or search, including documents on government and law
- Library of Congress: Primary Documents in American History: Includes select major legislation, constitutional amendments, treaties. With links to Library of Congress and other historical document collections.
- National Archives and Records Administration: 100 Milestone Documents. Includes treaties, constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, presidential addresses and orders, legislation. Original document image plus transcript and background information.
References and Further Reading
- Friedman, Lawrence M. A History of American Law (3rd ed. 2005)
- Friedman, Lawrence M. American Law in the Twentieth Century (2002)
- Hall, Kermit L. The Magic Mirror: Law in American History (1989)
- Hall, Kermit L. et al. American Legal History: Cases and Materials (2010)
- Horwitz, Morton J. The transformation of American law: 1780 – 1860 (1977)
- Horwitz, Morton J. The transformation of American law, 1870-1960: the crisis of legal orthodoxy (1994)
- Howe, Mark de Wolfe, ed. Readings in American Legal History (2001)
- Johnson, Herbert A. American legal and constitutional history: cases and materials (2001)
- Root and Branch: Contexts of Legal History in Alabama and the South, Pruitt, Paul, The Journal of Southern Legal History (2009)
- Rabban, David M. (2003) “The Historiography of Late Nineteenth-Century American Legal History,” Theoretical Inquiries in Law
- The Oxford international encyclopedia of legal history, Oxford University Press, 2009
- Schwartz, Bernard. The Law in America. (Evolution of American legal institutions since 1790) (1974).
- Glenn, H. Patrick (2000). Legal Traditions of the World. Oxford University Press.
- Sadakat Kadri, The Trial: A History from Socrates to O.J. Simpson, HarperCollins 2005.
- Kelly, J.M. (1992). A Short History of Western Legal Theory. Oxford University Press.
- Gordley, James R.; von Mehren, Arthur Taylor (2006). An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Private Law.
- Otto, Martin (2011). “Law”. European History Online.
- Sealy, L.S.; Hooley, R.J.A. (2003). Commercial Law. LexisNexis Butterworths.
- Stein, Peter (1999). Roman Law in European History. Cambridge University Press.
- Kempin, Jr., Frederick G. (1963). Legal History: Law and Social Change. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
American Legal History Texts in Internet
Columbine Review Commission report on the worst school shooting in U.S. history.
AUDIO COLLECTION – HARVARD LAW SCHOOL FORUM. The Harvard Law School Forum is currently digitizing and posting to the web its collection of speeches and panel discussions from the last 40 years. Tapes (and even transcription discs) of some seventy historic programs have been lying in a file cabinet for years. Some probably have not been played since their recording. To release these important programs to the public, they are being posted on the Forum website.
The Ames Foundation, based at Harvard Law School, supports research into legal history through publications (notably the yearbooks of Richard II) and grants. The site includes a catalog of their publications.
The Southern Poverty Law Center
Yale Law School Avalon Project
National Constitution Center
Independence Hall Association
Colonial Williamsburg Official Website
Documents in the news.
Anti-Defamation League Website
Catalog of U.S. Government publications. The Catalog is a search and retrieval service that provides bibliographic records of U.S. Government information resources. Use it to link to Federal agency online resources or identify materials distributed to Federal Depository Libraries. Coverage begins with January 1994 and new records are added daily. Start searching below or learn more about the Catalog and how to search it effectively.
The Digital National Security Archive contains more than 35,000 of the most important declassified documents that led to policy decisions. There are twelve complete collections: Afghanistan, Berlin Crisis 1958-1962, Cuban Missile Crisis, El Salvador, Iran-Contra Affair, Intelligence Community, Iran Revolution, Military Uses of Space, Nicaragua, Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Philippines, and South Africa. The National Security Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Federal depository library gateways.
Legal History Sources (UTexas)
Literature of Legal History
The Online US Constitution
American Legal History Texts
General Legal History Texts
Documenting the American South — UNC at Chapel Hill Library
Documents for American Legal History (Robert Palmer, University of Houston Law Center.
Famous American Trials (Douglas Linder, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law).
Sweatt v. Painter Archive (Thomas Russell, University of Texas School of Law)
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873.
Confederate States of America, The Statutes at Large of the Confederate States of America, Commencing with the First Session of the First Congress;1862. Public Laws of the Confederate States of America, Passed at the First Session of the First Congress; 1862. Private Laws of the Confederate States of America, Passed at the First Session of the First Congress; 1862.
Legal History website edited by Thomas D. Russell, University of Texas at Austin School of Law.
- The American Judicature Society and Court Reform: A Brief Chronology, Author, No, 72: 91 (Aug.-Sep. '88, AJS Judicature)
- Brown at 50: The road that lies behind us and the challenges ahead, Clark, Hunter R., 88: 56-59 (Sept.-Oct. '04, AJS Judicature)
- Cameras In State Courts: A Historical Perspective, Strickland, Ruth Ann and Moore, Richter H., Jr., 78: 128-135, 160 (Nov.-Dec. '94, AJS Judicature)
- Constitutional Problems of Juvenile Delinquency Trials, Sanborn, Joseph B., Jr., 78: 81-88 (Sep.-Oct. '94, AJS Judicature)
- The darker face of Brown: The promise and reality of the decision remain unreconciled, Fair, Bryan K., 88: 80-84 (Sept.-Oct. '04, AJS Judicature)
- Development of tribal courts: past, present, and future, Myers, Joseph A. and Coochise, Elbridge, 79: 147-149 (Nov.-Dec. '95, AJS Judicature)
- A different shade of Brown: Latinos and school desegregation, Bowman, Kristi L., 88: 85-90 (Sept.-Oct. '04, AJS Judicature)
- The erosion of the Great Writ (editorial), Editorial, AJS, 89: 56, 90 (Sept.-Oct. '05, AJS Judicature)
- Fireworks on the 50th Anniversary of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Subrin, Stephen N., 73: 4-9, 47 (Jun.-Jul. '89, AJS Judicature)
- From Pound to Harley: The Founding of AJS, Belknap, Michal R., 72: 78-90 (Aug.-Sep. '88, AJS Judicature)
- A Half Century in Retrospect, Winters, Glenn R., 72: 92-97 (Aug.-Sep. '88, AJS Judicature)
- In Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Merit Selection, Krivosha, Norman, 74: 128-132 (Oct.-Nov. '90, AJS Judicature)
- Indigenous justice systems and tribal society, Melton, Ada Pecos, 79: 126-133 (Nov.-Dec. '95, AJS Judicature)
- The Legal Profession: A Critical Evaluation, Adams, Arlin M., 74: 77-83 (Aug.-Sep. '90, AJS Judicature)
- Lessons from Brown for today's public interest lawyers, Morrison, Alan B., 88: 60-65 (Sept.-Oct. '04, AJS Judicature)
- Multiple sovereignties: Indian tribes, states, and the federal government, Resnik, Judith, 79: 118-125 (Nov.-Dec. '95, AJS Judicature)
- Perceptive and Disturbing (letter), Wilbert, Paul L., 74: 289 (Apr.-May '91, AJS Judicature)
- Politics in Brown and white: Resegregation in America, Cann, Steven, 88: 74-78 (Sept.-Oct. '04, AJS Judicature)
- Preserving liberty when the nation is at war (editorial), Editorial, AJS, 85: 56 (July-Aug. '01, AJS Judicature)
- Richard Spencer Childs: The Political Reformer and His Influence on the Work of the American Judicature Society, Hirschhorn, Bernard, 73: 184-191 (Dec.-Jan. '90, AJS Judicature)
- The Role of the Bar (letter), Foulis, Ronald, 74: 289 (Apr.-May '91, AJS Judicature)
- The significance of Brown, Ogletree, Charles J., Jr., 88: 66-72 (Sept.-Oct. '04, AJS Judicature)