Guide to Legal History Databases
This is a guide to the databases accessible for legal history research.
Revised: February 2011
This list is a selection of the online full-text and index databases available on English Legal History through the following:
- Georgetown University Law Library http://www.ll.georgetown.edu, and click on the Alphabetical List to Databases, in the large box
- Georgetown University Lauinger Library's list of Articles, Databases & Journals: http://resources.library.georgetown.edu/libdata/articles_databases.phtml
- Generally via the Internet, most are free
- CD-ROMs at the Williams/Wolff Libraries and Lauinger
Several of the databases are on CD-ROMs, and only available through a limited number of the Law Library workstations. Contact the Special Collections staff for assistance. There are many other databases on CD-ROM, but these are the most relevant to English legal history research.
For the Lauinger Library databases, most are accessible from off-campus, but some must be used either on the Georgetown Law campus, or at Lauinger Library. Check with the Special Collections staff, or a member of the Reference Departments in Williams and Wolff Libraries for more details or assistance in using these databases.
Other legal history guides are available online or in paper in Special Collections:
- Legal History: American Legal History
- Legal History: Anglo-American Juries
- Legal History: Crime and Punishment
- Legal History: English Legal History
- Legal History: Guide to Online Databases for Research in Legal History
- Legal History: Scottish Legal History
Start With These Databases
Start your research with these databases, as they are the most comprehensive, cover a wide selection of topics and time periods, and can help you refine your research terms for the more specific databases.
Periodicals & Newspapers
British Periodicals (17th-early 20th centuries)
Facsimile page images and searchable full text for nearly 500 British periodicals published from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. Some useful newspapers covered here are
- The Gentleman's Magazine (1731-)
- The Historical Register (1717-1739)
- Anti-Jacobin Review and Protestant Advocate, or Monthly Political and Literary Censor, formerly Anti-Jacobin Review and True Churchman's Magazine, or Monthly Political and Literary Censor and Anti-Jacobin Review, True Churchman's Magazine and Protestant Advocate, or Monthly Political and Religious Censor (1798-1821)
Topics covered include literature, philosophy, history, science, the fine arts, archaeology, architecture, and the social sciences.
Times Digital Archives (London Times, 1785-1985)
Searchable, electronic version of The Times, Britain's newspaper of record, essential for primary source research in British history, politics, and culture. Provides a complete full-text and full-image archive of The Times from 1785 to 1985.
17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers
The Burney Collection, sourced from the British Library, is an archive of newspapers and news pamphlets (approximately 1,270 titles) gathered by Reverend Charles Burney (b. 1757-d. 1817). Although the majority of materials were published in London, there are some English provincial, Irish and Scottish papers, as well as a handful of examples from the American colonies.
19th Century British Pamphlets (JSTOR)
19th Century Masterfile
American Periodicals Series Online, 1740-1900 (ProQuest)
Early American Newspapers, Series I , 1690-1876
Journal STORage -- full text backfiles of significant scholarly journals. See list of titles currently available.
WilsonWeb Journal Indexes
This database is a gateway to a large number of full-text journal and journal index databases. They can be searched individually and in combination. They include:
- Art Full Text
- Art Retrospective
- Book Review Digest Plus
- Humanities & Social Sciences Retrospective
- Humanities Index
- Legal Periodicals & Books
- Legal Periodicals Retrospective
- Readers‰ Guide Retrospective
- Social Sciences Index
Academic Search Premier (EBSCO)
Primary Sources Databases
These databases provide access to full-text materials from the Middle Ages to the present: handwritten manuscripts, early printed treatises, pamphlets, etc. Some of these materials are not legal materials, but still provide many resources from the legal world.
British History Online
Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
British Parliamentary Papers Online, Hansard, 1803-2005 (Lauinger Library)
Available via the Lauinger Library (main campus) database collection, this is a full-text digitization project to give access to the reports of debates in Parliament.
Early American Imprints (Series I): Evans, 1639-1800
Taken from the Evans American Bibliography, this full-text database collection contains all known existing books, pamphlets, and broadsides printed in the United States or in the British American colonies before Independence from 1639 through 1819.
Early American Imprints (Series II): Shaw & Shoemaker, 1801-1819
Early American Imprints (EAI) Series II provides full-text access to the 36,000 American books, pamphlets and broadsides published in the first nineteen years of the nineteenth century. Based on the authoritative bibliography by Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker and supplemented by thousands of new items, this database contains many state papers and government materials, including published reports; presidential letters and messages; and congressional, state and territorial resolutions.
Early English Books Online (EEBO)
This is a full-text electronic collection of images of all books, pamphlets, and broadsides published in the English language in any country from 1475 through 1700. It includes the works listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (printed materials published in English from 1475 to 1640); Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (printed materials published in English from 1641 to 1700); and Thomason Tracts (compendium of broadsides on the English Civil War printed between 1640 and 1661).
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)
Digital images of over 180,000 books published during the 18th Century. Includes full-text searching of approximately 26 million pages. Covers the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.
English Reports (1220-1867) HeinOnline
This is a full-text database of the 176 volumes of the English Reports, Full Reprint along with its "Index of Cases" and "Index Chart." This is also available through LLMC, and on a two volume CD-ROM set in Special Collections. Access the Statutes of the Realm, 1220-1713 via HeinOnline‰s English Reports.
Access to over 70 online databases. Use FirstSearch to access the Inter-Library Loan system (ILL).
HeinOnline provides legal researchers with collections of the earliest legal periodicals and other legal classics that are out-of-print or hard to obtain in hardcopy. It includes:
- Law Journal Library ‹ full-text access to most American, and some foreign law journals, from the 19th century to the present
- English Reports, Full Reprint (1220-1867) ‹ full-text access to all printed Nominatives
- Statutes of the Realm (1235-1713) ‹ access via English Reports. See also Justis
- Legal Classics
- Selden Society Publications and the History of Early English Law
- Session Laws Library ‹ includes current and historical laws, for some states. Continuously updated
- Taxation & Economic Reform in America: A Historical Archive, 1781-2009
- U.S. Congressional Documents
- U.S. Statutes at Large
- World Trials Library
Justis UK Statutes
The Justis UK Statutes database (with JustCite add-on) contains the full text of all Acts of Parliament in England, Wales and Scotland as enacted from 1235 to the present day. UK Statutes is the only statute law database to contain Scottish Acts of Parliament and repealed legislation. All Acts appear as enacted, with links to amended and amending legislation allowing the user to trace the development of the law. A notable feature of the Justis services is the JustCite tabs, which provide users with a visual display of the path of legislation. (NB: Georgetown does not subscribe to Justis content other than UK Statutes and JustCite.)
Legal History: The Year Books
David J. Seipp, comp. An Index and Paraphrase of Printed Year Book Reports, 1268 -1535 (Seipp's Abridgement)
Year Books are the law reports of medieval England. The earliest examples date from about 1268, and the last in the printed series are for the year 1535. The Year Books are the principal source materials for the development of legal doctrines, concepts, and methods from 1290 to 1535, a period during which the common law developed into recognizable form. More than 22,000 individual reports or 'pleas' have been printed, and others remain in manuscript. This database indexes all year book reports printed in the chronological series for all years between 1268 and 1535, and many of the year book reports printed only in alphabetical abridgements. Of these reports, almost 6,000 from 1399 forward have been fully indexed and paraphrased in this database. (Legal History: The Year Books). This database is keyword searchable, but be aware that you may have to chose your search terms very carefully. Knowledge of Law-French and Latin is helpful. A bibliography is included.
Electronic database of historical legal materials containing case reporters, statutes of the U.S. and selected foreign nations, U.S. government documents, and many other legal materials. A rich source for legal history researchers, but a bit cumbersome to use.
Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800-1926
Full-text searchable collection of 21,000 British and American legal treatises from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The 10 million+ pages available in this database are viewable as PDF images. Content was originally published in the microfilm sets ,Nineteenth-Century Legal TreatisesŠ and ,Twentieth-Century Legal Treatises.Š
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.
Making of Modern Law: The Goldsmiths‰-Kress Library of Economic Literature, 1450-1850
MOMW is a collection of digital facsimile page images from more than 61,000 books from the period 1460-1850, and 466 pre-1906 serials. It focuses on economics interpreted in the widest sense, including political science, history, sociology, and special collections on banking, finance, transportation and manufacturing. Coverage: 1450-1850.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (DNB)
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is an illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the fourth century BC to the year 2001. It excludes living persons. It has themed entries (e.g. Roman Britain) and groups of subjects with a common attribute (e.g. Archbishops of Canterbury). The database contains 10,000 images. The print edition is in the Williams Law Library's Reference collection.
Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, 1674 to 1913 (OBSP)
Also called, the Old Bailey Sessions Proceedings, The Proceedings of the Old Bailey is a fully searchable online edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing accounts of close to 200,000 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.
Search multiple ProQuest periodicals databases simultaneously, including ABI/INFORM (business, economics, and finance periodicals), ProQuest Newspapers, Ethnic NewsWatch, GenderWatch, Hoover's Company Profiles, ProQuest Science Journals, ProQuest Social Sciences Journals, and more.
CD-ROMs in Special Collections
State Trials (Howell‰s State Trials, Cobbett‰s State Trials), 1163-1820
Available in microfilm in Media, in original format in Special Collections, and in Special Collections on a CD-ROM, the State Trials are a set of reports on infamous trials that are not available through the English Reports. Contact the Special collections Librarian for use and details.
English Reports on CD-ROM
Although the english Reports are available online through Hein Online and LLMC Digital, you can also access them via a CD-ROM set available only in Special Collections. These are identical to the online and print version, but searcheable in a different way, and sometimes more useful to use.
The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England (1272-1504)
This CD-ROM has full-text and translations of the meetings of the English parliaments from Edward I to Henry VII. these images are fully searcheable, but only available via the CD-ROM in Special Collections.
Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, 1628-1686
This CD-ROM has full-text and images of the records of the Massachusetts colony for a critical period in English colonial history.
If you have questions about finding or using any of these and other databases, or you need more in-depth assistance in your research, please ask at the Special Collections Department located at the west end of the Robert L. Oakley Reading Room in Williams Law Library. The Head of Special Collections will assist you in identifying and locating the materials you need for your research projects.
Laura A. Bedard
Head of Special Collections
Georgetown University Law Library
© Georgetown University Law Library. These guides may be used for educational purposes, as long as proper credit is given. These guides may not be sold. Requests to republish or adapt a guide should be directed to the Head of Reference. Proper credit includes the statement: Written by, or adapted from, Georgetown Law Library (current as of .....).