Free E-books of a Legal Nature


31 January 2014

No historical researcher can live without legal reference works. What were the laws that affected the creation of this document we just found? What were the laws that affect our interpretation of this document? Did the creation of this document trigger another legal action that will tell us more about our subject? &c &c &c.

The big challenge has always been finding those statute books we need, those state codes, the legislative journals, the annual reports of government agencies and bureaus, the local ordinances of supervisory boards and city councils in Whatever County or State. Using the Library of Congress catalog or WorldCat, we can easily identify many works of value; but the difficulty of accessing those in distant archives has tempted all of us to say, “Oh, well. I know I should check this point, but ... .”

No more buts!  Today’s “find” is a site that offers a trove of digitized legal works. States, counties, cities, and the U.S. government are all represented in these holdings. You’ll also find abstracts of local records, published in books that are now in the public domain. Among the site's many non-legal tomes, you’ll even find an original edition copy of Solomon Northrup’s Twelve Years a Slave.