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Law Research Guide: Reference

Law Reference Books

One good first step in any research project is to gather background information on your topic. Or, perhaps you have a law subject in mind and want to read a little bit more before choosing your research topic. Reference sources, particularly the subject encyclopedias, are a good place to begin. They're terrific at laying out basic information about a topic: a chronicle of its history; current status; theory or philosophy; key people; and most importantly, a bibliography of additional sources.


U.S. Supreme Court, Collection of the
Supreme Court of the United States

The Constitution and the Supreme Court

The Constitutional Law Dictionary
Main Ref KF4548.5 .C47 1985

Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
Main Ref KF4527 .U54 2002
Updated online via govinfo. Also available mobile app from the Library of Congress.
A great place to start research on the U.S. Constitution. Includes analysis and footnotes to Supreme Court cases and law review articles.

Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues, 1789-2002
Main Ref KF4557 .V555 2003

Amendments to the Constitution: a brief legislative history (print and online)
Senate Print 99-87. 1985.
Govt Doc Y 4.J 89/2:S.prt.99-87

Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
Main Ref KF4548 .E53 2000

The Evolving Constitution: How the Supreme Court has Ruled on Issues from Abortion to Zoning
Main Ref KF4548 .L54 1992

Great American Court Cases, 1999-. Online.

Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia
Main Ref KF352.Z9 H57 2001

Landmark decisions of the United States Supreme Court
Main Ref KF4549 .F56 2003

Landmark Supreme Court Cases : A Reference Guide (online), 1999

Landmark Supreme Court cases: the most influential decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States
Main Ref KF8742 .H37 2004

Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States (online)
Main Ref KF8742.A35 O93 2005 (print)

The Oxford Guide to United States Supreme Court Decisions, 2009 (online)

The United States law week
Main Ref KF127.1 .U5
Most recent 5 years only. News about significant cases and key legislative, regulatory, and pre-decisional developments. Indexes in the back of sections 1-2 and sections 3-4.

The Oxford handbook of comparative law
Main Ref K48 .O96 2006

How to read a Supreme Court opinion

How to Read a Supreme Court Opinion, American Bar Association, from Insights on Law and Society 13.1 (Fall 2012). Key terms

"Components of a decision", in How to find the law, pp. 26-35
Main Ref KF240 .C538 1983

General Law

The Cambridge History Of Law In America (print)
Main Ref KF352 .C36 2008, vols 1-3.
Online: Vol. 1, Early America (1580-1815)
Vol. 2, The Long Nineteenth Century (1789-1920)
Vol. 3, The Twentieth Century and After (1920-)

Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, (online, 2011)

Legal Research in a Nutshell
Main Ref KF240 .C54 2013

The Oxford Companion to American Law, 2002 (online)
Main Ref KF154 .O96 2002 (print)

The Oxford handbook of Law and Politics (online)

The New Oxford Companion to Law, 2008 (online)

Studies in Law, Politics, and Society. An annual publication with a focus on "legal scholarship produced from an historical, comparative or ethnographic perspective."
Main Libr K23 .T82

Fundamentals of Legal Research. J. Myron Jacobstein and Roy M. Mersky, 1985.
Main Ref KF240 .J3 1985

International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences, 2015

The series Landmark law cases & American society includes books on cases and issues. CBB holds many of these volumes, such as the ones listed below. Others can be searched (on the name of the series) in WorldCat.
   Affirmative action on trial : sex discrimination in Johnson v. Santa Clara
   Dred Scott and the politics of slavery
   Gibbons v. Ogden : John Marshall, steamboats, and the commerce clause
   Marbury v. Madison : the origins and legacy of judicial review

Case law

cases decided by judges

Encyclopedia of the American Judicial System: Studies of the Principal Institutions and Processes of Law, 1987.
Main Ref KF154 .E53 1987, vols. 1-3

Great American Court Cases, 1999-. Online.

Historic U.S. Court Cases: An Encyclopedia
KF352.Z9 H57 2001

The United States law week
Main Ref KF127.1 .U5
Most recent 5 years only. News about significant cases and key legislative, regulatory, and pre-decisional developments. Indexes in the back of sections 1-2 and sections 3-4.

Statutory Law

See also Statutes and Bill Histories
in this guide as well as the guide on
Congressional Documents.

laws enacted by a legislative body

Major Acts of Congress
Main Ref KF154 .M35 2004 v.1-3

International Law

law of international relations

Parry & Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law, 2009. Online.

Tribal Law

Tribal Court Clearinghouse, Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Dictionaries

Black's Law Dictionary Best Bet
Main Ref KF156 .B53 2014
Black's Law Dictionary is also in Westlaw under All Content > Secondary Sources.

Collins Dictionary of Law, 2006

A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage
Main Ref KF156 .G367 1995

Findlaw Legal Dictionary

Nolo's Free Dictionary of Law Terms and Legal Definitions

Historical Law Dictionaries

Historical law dictionaries are valuable for their inclusion of then-contemporaneous terminology.

Black

1st ed., 1891. A dictionary of law : containing definitions of the terms and phrases of American and English jurisprudence, ancient and modern; including the principal terms of international, constitutional, and commercial law; with a collection of legal maxims and numerous select titles from the civil law and other foreign systems. Henry Campbell Black.
Via Internet Archive, HathiTrust.

2nd ed., 1910. A law dictionary containing definitions of the terms and phrases of American and English jurisprudence, ancient and modern : and including the principal terms of international, constitutional, ecclesiastical, and commercial law, and medical jurisprudence, with a collection of legal maxims, numerous select titles from the Roman, modern civil, Scotch, French, Spanish, and Mexican law, and other foreign systems, and a table of abbreviations. Henry Campbell Black.
Via Internet Archive, Internet Archive, Internet Archive.

Bouvier

1839. A law dictionary: adapted to the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and of the several states of the American union : with references to the civil and other systems of foreign law. John Bouvier.
Via HathiTrust, Volumes 1-2.

3rd ed., 1848. A law dictionary : adapted to the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and of the several states of the American union; with references to the civil and other systems of foreign law. John Bouvier.
Via Internet Archive, Volume 1, Volume 2.

5th ed., 1854-1855. A law dictionary, adapted to the constitution and laws of the United States of America, and of the several states of the American union ; with references to the civil and other systems of foreign law. John Bouvier.
Via HathiTrust, Volume 1, Volume 2.

11th ed., 1862. A law dictionary, adapted to the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and of the several States of the American Union : with references to the civil and other systems of foreign law, to which is added Kelham's Dictionary of the Norman and Old French language. John Bouvier.
Via Internet Archive, Volume 1, Volume 2

3rd rev., 8th ed., 1914. Bouvier's Law Dictionary and Concise Encyclopedia.
Via Internet Archive, Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3

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