New e-resource for legal historians

By | 15 June 2009

The LawBod’s subscription to HeinOnline now includes the Selden Society Publications and the History of Early English Law library. This  should raise the spirits of anyone studying English legal history at Oxford!
This first blog will be an introduction to what it offers – I hope to follow up with some tips for searching later.

Although it is not the only title in this resource, the Selden Society material is the real draw. As long ago as 1960, the Society itself acknowledged that “the very size of the series presents increasing difficulties in the way of easy reference.” (p.iii General Guide to the Society’s Publications Selden Society) – so the ability to perform electronic searches is very alluring.

Home page of Library

Home page of Library

Not every Selden Society is avaiable on HeinOnline (clearly the Society still needs to reward its subscribers and raise revenue from distribution and sale of its latest publications) but no fewer than 117 volumes (for the years 1887-2000) of the annual series, the first 13 (1965-2000) of the supplementary series, and the centenary guide are all there.
From the Oxford undergraduate’s point of view, the fact that  v.2 of Spelman’s reports (v.94(1977)) – with Baker’s introduction to English Law in the early modern period – is there will be a particular bonus!

Also available are the volumes of the Statutes of the Realm, published 1810-27, which are still considered the most  authoritative of the printed versions for all statutes from 1236 to 1713.  Although Oxford has had e-access to these via Making of the Modern World for sometime, I believe the HeinOnline will be the more used platform -not just because it is more prominent in lawyers’ memories, but also because HeinOnline should offer better search facilities.
  The full reprint of the English Reports is also available in this Library – but Oxford users have had access to these as a separate library in HeinOnline,  and via a networked CD Rom, while BAILII has recently made  them freely available to all.
 Another section offers English Legal History Classics from Bracton (though not Glanvill) to scholars writing in the early 20th century.  Curiously, the Bracton is not the edition by Woodbine and Thorne (this is made available, free, by Harvard) – nor can you find it by clicking on B in either the title nor the author browse lists, but via H (for Henri) in the title listing. This is followed by  Scholarly Law Review Articles on English Legal History which more current finishing – I think – with Baker’s contribution “Why the History of English Law has not been finished” from CLJ 2000. (Do not be confused when drilling down in the articles section: “by author” does not mean the author who penned the articles, but gathers together authors as subjects of articles.)
The final useful section provides links to free resources on the web – most usefully for those interested in medieval law it includes a link through to Boston University’s Year Book site – though to the bibliography pages rather than the Search the Year Books facility which is even more popular and heavily used by students, as soon as they learn of its existence!

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