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Constitutional Law: History

This guide is designed to be used by students engaged in researching federal constitutional law issues.

Overview

Any constitutional law issue may require a search of historical  materials.  The extent of material available for free, online, is huge.  In addition, you have access to some proprietary databases, such as ProQuest Congressional, that contain materials not available on the other websites.

History - Documents

Federalist

The Federalist: a collection of essays, written in favour of the new Constitution, as agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787, is available in paper and electronically.

History - Books

Constitutional Amendments

History - Websites

Bill of Rights with annotationsCornell University, Legal Information Institute

ProQuest Congressional- Basic Search of Congressional Publications  Icon

  • Include the phrase "constitutional amendment*" (* is a wildcard) in your search.  Ex.  "constitutional amendment*" AND religion
  • Use Index Terms to find exact phrase used by ProQuest.
  • Limit your date range, if possible to exclude irrelevant documents.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1744-1875. Library of Congress.

  • Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention: Journals of the Continental Congress; Letters of Delegates to Congress; Elliot's Debates; Farrand's Records 
  • Journals of Congress: House Journal; Senate Journal; Senate Executive Journal; Maclay's Journa
  • Statutes and Documents: Bills and Resolutions; Statutes at Large; American State Papers; U.S. Serial Set
  • Debates of Congress: Annals of Congress; Register of Debates; Congressional Globe; Congressional Record

Congress.gov: U.S. Founding Documents

  • Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
  • U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers
  • Library of Congress, A Century of Lawmaking

Consource.  The Constitutional Sources Project is a free online library of constitutional history.  The collection is still growing and now contains:

  • The Constitution and Amendments
  • Declaration of Independence
  • Articles of Confederation
  • State Constitutions and Charters
  • Constitutional Convention Records
  • The Federalist Papers
  • Anti-Federalist and Pro-Federalist Papers
  • State Ratification Debates
  • Bill of Rights Legislative History

HeinOnline Libraries

The Avalon Project, The American Constitution--A Documentary Record, Yale Law Library

 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Charters of Freedom, Constitution of the United States

 
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