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Law Research Guide: Reference

General Legal Encyclopedias

Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, 2022.
"Explains legal terms and concepts in everyday language. Covers a wide variety of topics including specific legislation, persons, entities, movements, and events that have shaped the U.S. legal system and influenced public perception of American law."

American Jurisprudence 2d.
"An encyclopedic text of both procedural and substantive American law, state, federal, criminal, civil and procedural. Consisting of over 430 topic headings (titles), Am Jur 2d articles collect, examine, and summarize the broad principles of American law and, at the same time, provide direct leads to supporting cases, related annotations, forms, proofs, and trial techniques." Via Westlaw, Nexis Uni.

Corpus Juris Secundum.
"Covers state and federal legal topics from A to Z. General rules of law are summarized in blackletter law headings and expanded upon in the text. The book also provides the limitations and exceptions to the rules where appropriate." Via Westlaw.

American Law Reports.
"This set provides comprehensive analysis of issues of federal and state law." "Besides regular case updates to all ALR articles, ALR uses supersessions to replace content that require significant update. Articles may be superseded in full or in part." Via Westlaw > All Content > Secondary Sources > American Law Reports.

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. 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: 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 U.S. Supreme Court Opinion, American Bar Association, Insights on Law and Society 13 (2012).

"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 and online)
Main Ref KF352 .C36 2008, vols 1-3.

Legal Research in a Nutshell
Main Ref KF240 .C54 2013

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

The Oxford handbook of Law and Politics (print and 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

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

Thorpe, Francis Newton. The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America; Compiled And Edited Under the Act of Congress of June 30, 1906. United States. 59th Cong., 2nd Sess, H.Doc. 357 pts. 1-7, serial 5190, 5191, 5192, 5193, 5194-1, 5194-2, 5194-3. 7 vols. Washington: GPO, 1907-1909. Also available via Internet Archive and HathiTrust.

  • Volume 1, United States - Alabama - District of Columbia. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 2, Florida - Kansas. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 3, Kentucky - Massachusetts. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 4, Michigan - New Hampshire. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 5, New Jersey - Philippine Islands. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 6, Porto Rico - Vermont. Via HeinOnline.
  • Volume 7, Virginia - Wyoming - Index. Via HeinOnline.

Legal Reports, Library of Congress.
"The Law Library of Congress produces reports on foreign, comparative, and international law in response to requests from Members of Congress, Congressional staff and committees, the federal courts, executive branch agencies, and others. Selected reports are provided for the public for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The information provided reflects research undertaken as of the date of writing, which has not updated unless specifically noted. There are currently over 3,000 legal reports available online. Current and historical reports are released periodically."

Global Legal Monitor, Library of Congress.
"The Global Legal Monitor is an online publication from the Law Library of Congress covering legal news and developments worldwide. It is updated frequently and draws on information from official national legal publications and reliable press sources. You can find previous news by searching the Global Legal Monitor."

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

laws enacted by a legislative body

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

See also the tabs on Federal Laws, Federal Bills&Resolutions, and Federal Bill Histories in this guide as well as the guide on Congressional Documents.

Common Law

Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England. 4 vols. Oxford: Printed at the Clarendon Press, 1765. Via HeinOnline.
V. 1. Of the rights of persons
v. 2. Of the rights of things
v. 3. Of private wrongs
v. 4. Of public wrongs.


Prestatehood Legal Materials: A Fifty-State Research Guide, including New York City and the District of Columbia, 2005. HeinOnline

Tribal Law

Tribal Court Clearinghouse, Tribal Law and Policy Institute

International Law

law governing nations in their relationships with each other

Public international law in a nutshell, Main Libr KZ3410 .B84 2019

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