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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University

Legal History: Home

A guide to researching United States and North Carolina Legal History


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.

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

Laws & Codes


  • 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

Browse NC Newspapers at WCU

Your Subject Librarian

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Heidi Buchanan
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Hunter Library
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