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LAW 73840 Originalism Seminar (Prof. Garnett & Judge Thapar): Core Databases

Primary Source Databases


America's Historical Imprints

These comprehensive online resources offer more than 150,000 early American books, pamphlets, broadsides and rare printed materials. Featuring extensive indexing and full bibliographic information, they together illuminate centuries of American history, literature, culture and daily life. Unique and authoritative, these fully searchable products enable researchers to browse and explore America’s past in unprecedented ways.


Avalon Project

The Avalon Project will mount digital documents (including the Federalist Papers) relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government. We do not intend to mount only static text but rather to add value to the text by linking to supporting documents expressly referred to in the body of the text.


Federalist Papers: Primary Documents in American History

The Library of Congress website contains a variety of digital materials related to the Federalist Papers and the ratification of the United States Constitution, including manuscripts, books, and government documents.


Founders Online

The National Archives, through its National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), has entered into a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia Press to create this site and make freely available online the historical papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.


Gale Primary Sources

Brings the thoughts, words, and actions of past centuries into the present for a comprehensive research experience. With authoritative content and powerful search technologies, this platform has been thoughtfully designed to help students and researchers examine literary, political, and social culture of the last 500 years and develop a more meaningful understanding of how history continues to impact the world today. All of the collections on the Gale Primary Sources platform are meticulously indexed to improve discovery, analysis, and workflow for every user who is looking to push past the traditional boundaries of research.


The Making of Modern Law: Primary Sources

Contains a virtual goldmine of information for researchers of American legal history—a fully searchable digital archive of the published records of the American colonies, documents published by state constitutional conventions, state and territorial codes, municipal codes, city charters, law dictionaries, digests, and more. Note that the term "primary sources" is used not in the historian's sense of a manuscript, letter or diary, but rather in the legal sense of a case, statute or regulation. The collection brings together many important documents that have been lost, destroyed, or previously inaccessible to researchers of American legal history around the world.


The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution:

This landmark work in historical and legal scholarship draws upon thousands of sources to trace the Constitution’s progress through each of the thirteen states’ conventions. The digital edition allows users to search the complete contents by date, title, author, recipient, or state affiliation and preserves the copious annotations of the print edition.


For assistance, please contact the research librarians at the Kresge Law Library by email:

Primary Source & Database Images

The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution via University of Virginia Press

Founders Online: Correspondence and Other Writings of Seven Major Shapers of the United States via

The Articles of Confederation from the National Archives.

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