Law, Legal History Guide

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias contain narrative summaries of the law supported by footnotes to case law and statutes. They are often the best place to start to gain a general understanding of the law in a particular area.

There are two main Canadian legal encyclopedias in law: the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) and Halsbury's Laws of Canada (Halsbury's). CED covers federal, western, and Ontario jurisdictions, and Halsbury's covers all provincial and federal jurisdictions. Current volumes are available in print in the Law Library in the reference section on the first floor. Both are available electronically via WestlawNext Canada (CED) and Lexis Advance Quicklaw (Halsbury's).

**NOTE: Materials in superseded reference are currently in storage due to ongoing construction in the law library.**

However, if you're researching legal history, you may want to consult older volumes of legal encyclopedias. The following encyclopedias may be helpful (note: items shown as LAW-SREF are in the superseded reference section on the third floor, and LAW-RBROOM materials are on the first floor in the Rare Books Room):

Books

To search for books at UNB Libraries, use UNB WorldCat, the library's catalogue. UNB WorldCat contains records of materials held at all of UNB's libraries (including UNB Saint John).

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Items shown as LAW-RESERVE may be requested at the circulation desk on the first floor of the Law Library. Items shown as LAW-STACKS are on the second floor, and LAW-REF materials are on the first floor in the reference section. 

You can use UNB WorldCat to search for eBooks in addition to print books; additionally, you can find law-related eBooks in the following databases:

For more eBook databases and vendors, visit the UNB Libraries eBooks collection.

Articles

If you already know the journal title, year, volume number and page number for an article, you may be able to access it electronically by searching for the journal's title in the UNB e-journals database. If we have the journal electronically or in print, it will be listed. You can also look up the journal title in UNB WorldCat.

Keep in mind that it can be best to start with an index rather than a full-text journal search. An index is a systematic listing of journal articles by topic. A few key indexes in law are listed below.

 

Indexes

 

Full-text databases

 

There are other indexes available in print and electronically, as well as more full-text journal databases. Contact a law librarian for assistance.

Case Law

Canada

 

United Kingdom

 

United States

  • HeinOnline: Early American Case Law (contains the entire Federal Cases 30 book series (1894–1897) and the Trinity Series, which includes American Decisions, American Reports, and American State Reports)
  • HeinOnline: US Supreme Court Library (contains US Reports (1754–2013) as well as preliminary prints, slip opinions, and books and periodicals related to the US Supreme Court)

 

Case Digests

A digest service indexes cases by subject. If you find your topic in a digest, you can find 5, 10, or even 100 cases on the same topic. This is an extremely useful resource.

**NOTE: Materials in superseded reference are currently in storage due to ongoing construction in the law library.**

If you're researching legal history, you may want to consult older volumes of case digests. The following digests may be helpful (note: items shown as LAW-SREF are in the superseded reference section on the third floor, and LAW-RBROOM materials are on the first floor in the Rare Books Room):

Legislation

Canada

 

United Kingdom

 

United States

  • Congress.gov (public laws and congressional bills from 103rd Congress forward, House and Senate reports from 104th Congress forward, the Congressional Record from 104th Congress forward, and bill status and summary information from 93rd Congress forward)
  • HeinOnline: Session Laws (comprehensive collection of federal legislation from Australia (1901–), Bahamas (1968–1996), Canada (1792–), and the United States (1789–), and US state session laws from colonial times to the present)
  • Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation (records and acts of Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress, including the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, 1873–75)
  • GovInfo (Full-text access to bills beginning with the 103rd Congress, the Congressional Record from 1873–present, selected House and Senate hearings from the 99th Congress forward, and more)

 

Other Jurisdictions 

  • HeinOnline: World Constitutions Illustrated (The world's current constitutions in their original languages and English translations)
  • HeinOnline: Session Laws (comprehensive collection of federal legislation from Australia (1901–), Bahamas (1968–1996), Canada (1792–), and the United States (1789–), and US state session laws from colonial times to the present)

Websites & Blogs

Websites

Note: use Google search operators to focus your search, such as the site operator (site:) and the filetype operator (filetype:). For example, including site:gc.ca and filetype:pdf with your keywords will retrieve PDF documents from Government of Canada websites. This is a good way to find government reports, as they are usually in PDF format.

The following websites may be helpful for your research (note: many of these links are also available in other sections of this guide):

  • Champlain Society Digital Collection (digital versions of older texts, not all of which deal with the law)
  • Canadian Parliamentary Historical Resources (via Canadiana Online) (includes all debates, journals, and committee documentation of the Senate and the House of Commons from the 1st Session of the 1st Parliament (1867) until coverage at parl.ca begins. Historical sessional papers are also available from 1867–1901)
  • Canadiana Online: Government Publications (includes historical Canadian legislation, case law, and texts)
  • Internet Archive (includes historical legislation, case law, and texts from Canada and other countries)
  • Congress.gov (public laws and congressional bills from 103rd Congress forward, House and Senate reports from 104th Congress forward, the Congressional Record from 104th Congress forward, and bill status and summary information from 93rd Congress forward)
  • Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation (records and acts of Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress, including the first three volumes of the Congressional Record, 1873–75)
  • GovInfo (Full-text access to bills beginning with the 103rd Congress, the Congressional Record from 1873–present, selected House and Senate hearings from the 99th Congress forward, and more)
  • London Lives (wide range of primary sources about eighteenth-century London)

 

Blogs

There are many blogs maintained by lawyers and law firms, and you can find many of them at lawblogs.ca. There are a few blogs listed in the Legal History category that may be helpful, including the award-winning Canadian Legal History Blog by the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History.

 

UNB Research Guides

Don't forget: UNB has many research guides on various topics, including several on history, including History of Disability, History of Genocide, and more! Make use of the suggested resources and, if in doubt, contact one of the history librarians!

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