About This Guide
This guide provides selected books and online resources for locating background information and primary and secondary source materials for legal history research. The primary focus is on American legal history, including important sources of English law and commentary that are the foundation for the Anglo-American legal system as practiced in the United States. Links are provided for access to database resources for members of the Hofstra Law community. The guide also includes direct links to many free internet sites.
Historical research typically includes primary sources: firsthand reports or evidence of historical events and conditions, often found in magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, posters, diaries, letters, speeches, autobiographies, portraits and photographs, as well as in laws, court decisions, and government and other historical documents from the time period being researched; and secondary sources: second hand reports or information about a topic, including scholarly books, biographies, historical legal treatises, journal articles, papers and dissertations, and academic and topical web sites.
To get started with a legal history research topic,
First, browse the "Selected Books from the Law Library" section of this Guide to gain background and perspective about specific periods and issues in legal history. These titles can also be helpful in selecting or narrowing a research topic.
Next, search the Hofstra University Libraries catalog (LEXICAT) by keyword for your topic. Find a book about or closely related to your topic. Look at the “Subject” area in the catalog record. Click on one or more “Subject” links to find more books and resources on a relevant subject.
For many historical topics, a good book on the subject can provide:
- a coherent overview of the subject
- specific references to additional sources and materiaials, such as other books, journal and newspaper articles, case law and statutes, historical documents, Congressional debates and speeches, and useful web sites.
Once you have a manageable topic and an overview of the issues, the online resources in other sections of this Guide will help you locate specific materials for your paper or project.
Toni L. Aiello, JD, MSLS |Reference Librarian | Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University Law Library |122 Hofstra University | Hempstead, NY 11549 | 516-463-7808