American Legal History Research

by Fred Dingledy
Updated May 2018

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Some resources on this page are subscription databases that require a W&M ID and password for off-campus access. Be sure to access these resources using a link from the law library's or Swem Library's website.

Lexis and Westlaw require individual IDs and passwords for both off-campus and on-campus access.


Library Catalog
To search for books, journals, and audiovisual materials held by William & Mary libraries, use the online catalog.

Search Tips:

Subject Queries--
Constitutional History--United States
Courts--United States--History
Federal Government--United States--History

Law--United States--History
Law and Legislation--United States--History
Law and Legislation--United States--States--History

Series Query (available using the catalog's Advanced Search)--
American legal and constitutional history

Library of Congress Call Numbers for American Legal History issues: KF351-KF371, KF4502, KF4510, KF4541. Browse the shelves under these call numbers to locate relevant treatises.

To search for materials from other libraries, use the Worldcat database.

Selected Books
Carrington, Paul D. American Lawyers: Public Servants and the Development of a Nation.
KF297 .C37 2012

Chase, Anthony. Law and history: the evolution of the American legal system.
KF352 .C46 1997

Dinan, John J. State Constitutional Politics: Governing by Amendment in the American States.
KF4555 .A25 D56 2018

Friedman, Lawrence M. American Law in the 20th Century.
KF385 A4F7 2002

Friedman, Lawrence M. A history of American law. 3rd ed.
KF352 .F7 2005

Grossberg, Michael, ed. The Cambridge History of Law in America.
KF352 .C36 2007 (3 vols.)

Hadden, Sally E., and Alfred L. Brophy. A Companion to American Legal History.
KF352 .C66 2013

Hall, Kermit. The Magic Mirror: Law in American history. 2nd ed.
KF352 .H35 2009

Hoffer, Peter Charles. A nation of laws : America's imperfect pursuit of justice.
KF352 .H64 2010

Klarman, Michael J. The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution.
KF4541 .K53 2016

McWhirter, Darien A. The legal 100: a ranking of the individuals who have most influenced the law.

KF353 .M38 1998

Morris, Richard B. Studies in the history of American law. 2nd ed.
KF361 .M67 1959

Nelson, William E. and John Phillip Reid. The literature of American legal history.
KF352 .N45 1985

Orren, Karen & John W. Compton, eds. The Cambridge Companion to the United States Constitution.
KF4550 .C36 2018

The Oxford encyclopedia of American political and legal history.
Reference JK9 .O94 2012

Radin, Max. Handbook of Anglo-American legal history.
KF352 .R33

Sheppard, Steve, ed. The History of Legal Education in the United States: Commentaries and Primary Sources. 2 vols.
KF273 H535 1999

Speak, David M. Living law: the transformation of American jurisprudence in the early 20th century.
KF380 .S67 1987

Thorpe, Francis Newton. The constitutional history of the United States, 1765-1895.
KF4541 .T45 1970

Tsai, Robert L. America's Forgotten Constitutions.
KF4541 .T73 2014

Urofsky, Melvin I. and Paul Finkelman, eds. Documents of American constitutional and legal history. 3rd ed.
KF4502 .D635 2008

Urofsky, Melvin I. A march of liberty : a constitutional history of the United States. 3rd ed.
KF4541 .U76 2011

White, G. Edward. American Legal History: A Very Short Introduction.
KF352 .W478 2014

White, G. Edward. Law in American history.
KF352 .W48 2012

Journal Articles

Indexes to Journal Articles

Legal Source

Subject Queries--
Constitutional History
Legal History
United States -- History

Indexes articles from academic law reviews and bar journals.

Online coverage: 1908-present.


Subject Queries--
Constitutional History

Legal History
United States History

Indexes articles from legal journals, bar association publications, and law reviews. Includes book reviews and legal newspapers.

Online coverage: 1980-Present. Updated daily.

Full Text Articles
American Journal of Legal History (via Hein Online)
Law and History Review (via Hein Online)

American Journal of Legal History (AMJLH)
Law & History Review (LHISTR)

W&M Databases

Swem Library Databases >> History 
List of databases designed for historical research available to William & Mary students and faculty.

World Wide Web Resources

American Historical Association Directory of History Journals
Directory of history journals with links to the journals' websites. You can search using terms, browse by title, or search using the provided categories (Law is category 727).
The Government Publishing Office's (GPO) official web portal for access to federal government publications. Among other things, it provides access to historical versions of the Congressional Record and the Federal Register. Its collection is not complete yet, but GPO is continuing to work on filling historical gaps.

An online discussion network sponsored by the American Society for Legal History (past discussions can be read without joining the group). Also has links to reviews of legal history materials and film recommendations for teaching legal history.

J. Willard Hurst Collection
Hosted by the University of Wisconsin Law Library, this collection contains the notes, papers, and publications of J. Willard Hurst, generally considered the father of modern American Legal History. Many of the items have been digitized and are available on this website.

Legal History Blog
Blog of Prof. Mary L. Dudziak, Professor of Law, History, and Political Science at U. of Southern California. Prof. Dudziak's blog covers new developments and publications in the field of legal history.

Library of Congress Digitized Collections
Searchable database of digitized documents and pictures plus descriptions of other items in the Library of Congress's collection. Limit to the subject "Government, Law & Politics" under "Refine Your Results" on the left-hand side of the page.

The National Archives
Access documents published online by the Archives, and use the site's research tools to find print resources located at Archive facilities. This website also has links to the websites of Presidential Libraries, another useful resource for historical research.

Women's Legal History
This site is an online supplement to the book "Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz", but it also contains a database of biographical information on groundbreaking female attorneys.


American Association of Law Libraries Legal History & Rare Books Special Interest Section
A special interest group within the national law librarians' association that focuses on legal history. Their newsletter has discussions of important books in legal history and reviews of recently-published books that discuss legal history.

American Society for Legal History
Website of the American Society for Legal History. Includes information on joining the society, meetings, and information on Society publications and discussion lists.

The Supreme Court Historical Society

Society created to collect and preserve the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. Their website has information on how to join the society, as well as articles, short movies and quizzes about the Court's history.