Digital Resources for Teaching Legal History

Note: This list was originally developed by Dr. Sally Hadden, Western Michigan University, for the 2018 American Society for Legal History Meeting, and shared with The Docket to stimulate discussion of teaching legal history. To suggest an addition or report a changed or dead link, email

Some resources may require individual or institutional subscription.

Improving on the Basics (If you’ve worked through one major resource, consider these related ones)

  • Hein
    • 19th Century Masterfile “a vast scholarly database for finding published material from the 12th Century through 1930…. offers ‘omni-disciplinary’ coverage of primary materials in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Engineering, the History of Science, Law, Economics, Religion, Psychology, Government Documents, the Visual Arts, Music and the Physical Sciences.”

English Resources

  • Early English Books Online
  • Eighteenth Century Collections Online
  • Hansard The official report of all Parliamentary debates.
  • History of Parliament “contains all of the biographical, constituency and introductory survey articles published in The History of Parliament series.”
  • Halsbury’s (LexisNexis) “Halsbury’s Laws of England is the only comprehensive narrative statement of the law of England and Wales, containing law derived from every source.”
  • Anglo-American Legal Tradition “Documents from Medieval and Early Modern England from the National Archives in London, digitized and displayed through The O’Quinn Law Library of the University of Houston Law Center.”
  • English Reports via Hein or CommonLII
  • Selden Society Volumes “In addition to primary publications, researchers will also find some of the most influential digests, abridgments, and modern encyclopedias that formed the foundation of English law.”
  • UK Library Guide, Bodleian (Oxford),
  • Old Bailey Online “A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.”
  • Dying Speeches (Harvard University Library) “Between 1735 and 1868 in England and Wales, more than 9,300 people convicted of capital crimes were publicly executed…. In addition to sometimes lurid descriptions of the crime and trials, many execution broadsides featured the “dying speeches” or confessions and last words of convicts on the scaffold, sometimes in the form of poetry. Often there were warnings to would-be criminals.”
  • Appeals to the Privy Council from the American Colonies “In the century before the creation of the Supreme Court of the United States, the British Privy Council heard appeals from the 13 colonies that became the United States and from the other ‘American’ colonies in Canada and the Caribbean. This catalogue focuses on all currently known colonial cases appealed to the Privy Council from the future United States.”
  • BAILII (British and Irish Legal Information Institute) “British and Irish case law & legislation, European Union case law, Law Commission reports, and other law-related British and Irish material.”
  • British History Online

Early America

Resources connected to the Founding Era       

Key Trials


Caselaw Access Project

“The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law. Our goal is to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law Library.”

Data and Analytics

  • Google Books N-gram Viewer “When you enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books.” Explainer here. Cautionary explainer here.