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Legal History Research Guide: Introduction

Introduction

Researching Legal History can help one to better analyze and critique the foundation and development of current law as well as current cultural, social, economic, and political issues.  Perhaps most illuminating, in the face of the doctrine of precedent, Legal History provides evidence for how law changes over time and how law changes in relationship to cultural, social, economic, and political change.  Though it is difficult to completely remove oneself from personal philosophies and experiences, when researching Legal History, one should make every effort to analyze historical figures and their actions according to their environment, language, society, and culture.  In addition to objectivity, keen critical evaluation of resources is essential for Legal History research.

Legal History encompasses a great array of primary and secondary materials and literature.  At any time you may need to research statutes, code sections, legislative history, regulations, regulatory history, administrative decisions, and court decisions, as well as archival, historical, cultural, and social science materials.

See also these guides:

Photograph of the upper part of the stela of Hammurapis' code of laws, by Fritz-Milkau-Dia-Sammlung.

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