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This guide focuses on researching legal history topics, primarily for North Carolina history.
Search by topic
Option 1: It's usually wise to start with secondary sources (books, articles, etc.) or tertiary sources (encyclopedias) that will lead you to specific laws and cases, which will be neatly cited in the footnotes or the bibliography. Let an historian do some of the legwork for you.
The classic version of the library catalog. Search the library’s collections to find books, e-books, journal titles, films, and more. Search your topic by keyword or subject--or search for specific items by author or title.
Search for articles
The Quick Search for History will search within major history and related journals.
Option 2: Newspapers will often give a play-by-play of a major case; newspapers of record will make the public aware of a new law.
Once you know what law or case you need, search WestLaw Next
NC Legal History
Encyclopedia of North Carolina (online via NCPedia)
Go here first--this is one of the best sources you can use to find a topic, focus a topic, get background on your topic. Each entry has a list of secondary, and sometimes primary, sources on the topic--such a timesaver. Also available in print: WCU REFERENCE F254 .E54 2006
- Start with secondary or tertiary (encyclopedias) and find out as much as you can before moving to mega databases like Westlaw.
- Online does not always equal fast. Sometimes it is easier to browse through the print volumes, then find the full text online when you have a citation page number.
- You may have to use microfilm. Many NC newspapers are only available on microfilm Use the "Browse Hunter Library's Historical NC Newspapers" guide below to identify the best points of access.
- You should ask for help. Legal research is very complicated; email your librarian when you are stuck.
Browse Hunter Library's Historical NC Newspapers