Resource Spotlight: Hein’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and Proquest Congressional

Some research tasks involving legislative materials are relatively straightforward.  You need to find a certain document, what librarians call a “known item.”  You need a particular Senate Bill or a public law and maybe you even have the citation or know what law it came from.  The researcher with a task like this has a wealth of options including Lexis, Westlaw, and free sites like Congress.gov.

The researcher who has the more difficult research task is the one who does not know where a statement is found.  Those sources that let you find a known item do not (at least not easily) let you search across all of the documents that make up a legislative history.  That’s where the sources that I am highlighting become invaluable.  Hein’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library has what are called “compiled legislative histories.”  These are what they say they are: compilations of all of the documents in the legislative history of a single public law.  Better yet, you can search across all of the documents at once using Hein.

Hein’s library is a little quirky, but it’s worth it.  Let’s say you want to find any mention of “grease payments” in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). When you click on U.S. Federal Legislative History Library from Hein’s main page you are met with this confusing menu:

Hein fed leg hist library main page.PNG

The first thing you probably see is the search box.  That will search across all of the legislative histories.  Because you already know you only want the FCPA, this isn’t helpful. The next thing we see are a few buttons with different options.  The first two are the U.S. Federal Legislative History Collection and the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database.  Which one has the compiled legislative histories?  Would you believe it if I said that they both do?  The Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database is unique because it gives information, citations to, and links to law review articles that contain enough legislative history to be considered compiled legislative histories.  Because these law review articles will actually discuss the legislative history of a law and may go into what it all means, I prefer the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database as a starting point.  Also, that database contains the same compilations of documents that you’ll find in that U.S. Federal Legislative History Collection.

Once I locate the FCPA in the Sources database (hint: search or browse by popular name or public law number), here’s what I see:

FCPA entry in Sources database.PNG

As I mentioned before, all of those law review articles are potential starting points for an in-depth discussion of the legislative history and what it means.  But to search across the legislative history of the FCPA for any mention of “grease payments” my best option is the first entry.  That’s a compiled legislative history of the FCPA made by the Howrey Law Firm in 1977 that spans two volumes of print.  Lucky you, you can search across all of it all at once.

grease payment results

So that’s what makes Hein’s product so valuable.  Now let’s say you’re interested in a more broad question.  Let’s say you wanted to find any mention of “grease payments” by Congress and you didn’t want to limit yourself to the FCPA.  If you searched Hein’s legislative history database you’d be limiting yourself to the laws for which Hein has a compiled legislative history.  If you searched Lexis, Westlaw, or a free source like Congress.gov, you’d limit yourself to around 1990 to the present.

In steps Proquest CongressionalProquest Congressional is a massive database of Congressional documents.  It isn’t absolutely everything from all time in full-text.  Some things just weren’t published in the earliest years of Congress and some materials are available with an abstract and some index terms rather than full-text.  But this database is as close as you’re going to get as a database of all Congressional materials.  Thus, you could search for “grease payments” cutting across the widest possible range of time and document type.

proquest grease payment results

This can also be helpful for legislation that took many years to pass across several Congresses.  Famously, President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law after it passed Congress and was vetoed by President Bush.  Less famously, women’s service on federal juries was considered by Congress from the early 1940’s until a law was finally passed to prescribe uniform qualification for jurors in the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

ProQuest Congressional is also nice because it gathers together witness information.  This lets you find every time that, say, someone from the ACLU testified before Congress or every time that Fred Rogers testified.

So if you’re looking to research the history of a law and you want to search across all the documents in a legislative history or across a broad date range, you’ll want to try Hein’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and ProQuest Congressional.

 

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New Resources in December 2018

The Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 160 new items to our collection in December 2018. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

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Food for Fines

Food for FinesBetween Nov. 19 and Dec. 21, Northwestern University Libraries will be hosting our annual food drive.  Overdue library fines will be reduced by $5 for every food item donated. Nutritious, ready-to-eat food preferred. We cannot accept open packages, homemade items, perishable foods, expired items, beverages, or glass containers.

Food will be donated to Northwestern’s Purple Pantry and the Howard Area Community Center. See the Circulation Desk  for additional details.

 

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Resource Spotlight: American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990

MoML ACLU

Gale’s American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990 is a digital library containing more than 2 million pages of records, including bills, briefs, correspondence, court documents, legal case files, memorandums, etc.. It covers numerous topics, including the first “Red Scare” following the Russian Revolution of 1917; labor organizing; debates in the 1920s on immigration; the American Birth Control League; lynchings in the 1930s; debates on aliens and immigrants in the years immediately preceding the U.S. entry into the Second World War; and the ACLU’s involvement in Vietnam War issues and the Civil Rights movement.

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Fall Exhibit: Clarence Darrow

For Alumni Weekend, the PLRC debuted its fall exhibit, Clarence Darrow: Selections from the Arnold Greenberg Clarence Darrow Collection. Featuring photographs, rare books, correspondence, and others materials, the exhibit presents snippets of Darrow’s life, from his relationships with his wife and son to his work on the Scopes Trial in Tennessee.

The Arnold Greenberg Clarence Darrow Collection is the gift of the family of the late Arnold Greenberg, an antiquarian bookseller and lifelong admirer of Darrow. His son, Mike Greenberg (of ESPN’s Mike & Mike and Get Up!), is a Northwestern University alumnus who, along with his mother, generously offered the collection to the Law School.

Clarence Darrow: Selections from the Arnold Greenberg Clarence Darrow Collection will be on display on the third floor of the PLRC until early March 2019. To see additional items from the collection, please contact Brittany.Adams@law.northwestern.edu.

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New Resources in October 2018

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves beautiful

The Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 200 new items to our collection in October 2018. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

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Resource Spotlight: Locating & Using 50-State Surveys

A 50-state survey is a specialized secondary source that compares laws on a particular topic across all 50 states.  They might be as lengthy as a book treatment or as slim as a list of states with simple citations to relevant cases, statutes, or regulations.

Surveys

One way to find multistate surveys is to simply search for the strings “50 state survey” or “fifty state survey” or “state by state survey.”  Some book- and article-length surveys can be found this way through NUsearch (for example, here).

In addition, both Lexis Advance and Westlaw have databases of 50-state surveys.

Chart-Builders

Bloomberg Law includes what they term “State Law Chart Builders.” These cover dozens of discrete topics within six broader areas of law. The created chart can then be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet.

On Cheetah, users can find “smart charts” for various topics of law by clicking on a practice area on the home page and then looking to the “practice tools” section for that topic in the upper right of the page for that topic.  These charts can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet or as a Word document.

Finders

The Subject Compilations of State Laws is a biennial publication that dates back to 1960.  Available on HeinOnline, it indexes articles, briefs, books, government reports, and other sources that provide surveys of state laws.

Articles & ALRs

If all of the above fail, you can try to find surveys in law review articles or in annotations in American Law Reports.

Column

Finally, back in 2014, I wrote a column for the Illinois Bar Journal on finding 50-state surveys when one doesn’t have access to databases like Lexis and Westlaw.  You can read that column (on Westlaw) here, or find it in print at Tom Gaylord, Fifty-State Surveys: Can They Be Had for Free, 102 Ill. B.J. 352 (2014).

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Resource Spotlight: International Encyclopaedia of Laws

Screenshot of International Encyclopaedia of Laws for Constitutional Law

Are you interested in foreign and international law and searching for an authoritative, peer-reviewed resource?  If so, consider using International Encyclopaedia of Laws, one of the many online resources available through the Pritzker Legal Research Center.

International Encyclopaedia of Laws is actually an umbrella title for several distinct, subject-specific resources, covering disciplines including civil procedure, contracts, constitutional law, criminal law, family law, and intellectual property.  Importantly, the title “Encyclopaedia” is somewhat of a misnomer, as these resources are far from general. Instead, each contains extensive, heavily-footnoted chapters devoted to the laws of specific countries, written by experts in the respective fields.  For a more-detailed description of content, as well as a look the editorship structure and publication guidelines, visit https://ielaws.com/.

To access International Encyclopaedia of Laws here at Northwestern, you may visit the Law Library’s listing of databases beginning with “I” or may follow one of these direct links:

IEL: Civil Procedure
IEL: Commercial and Economic Law
IEL: Constitutional Law
IEL: Contracts
IEL: Corporations and Partnerships
IEL: Criminal Law
IEL: Family and Succession Law
IEL: Intellectual Property
IEL: Labour Law and Industrial Relations
IEL: Private International Law

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New Resources in September 2018

pile of five books

The Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 270 new items to our collection in September 2018. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

Posted in Library Resources

Resource Spotlight: Leadership Connect

YellowBooksThis month’s featured resource is the Leadership Connect database. It was previously known as Leadership Library and many of you may be familiar with it by the nickname given to its print counterpart, the Yellow Books.  The directories in Leadership Connect contain detailed contact information—including emails and direct-dials for individuals working in federal, state and local governments, companies, news media, law and lobbying firms, professional associations and nonprofits.

The law firm directories include 82,000 individuals in leadership roles including managing partners, practice heads, judges, and law clerks.  The database allows you to search across law firm headquarters, branch offices, committees, and practice groups. You can also filter by attorney specialty, practice area, firm size, or location and view contact details and biography information.Leadership_Connect_-Attorneys by specialty

The Congressional directory includes entries for representatives, chiefs of staff, legislative directors, legislative assistants, schedulers. The media directory includes 60,000 media contacts for editors, reporters, producers, guest bookers, columnists, bloggers and online journalists, researchers, hosts, and senior management.  You are able to view listings for reporters broken out by bureaus/desks, with full contact info and social media accounts.

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