Monday, October 13, 2008

Doing Legal History: Four Downloads from Western Legal History

Here are four "how-to" articles that originally appeared in Western Legal History and are available as free downloads at the website of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society:

Legal Research for Historians by David L. McFadden. From Western Legal History, Vol. 10, Nos. 1 & 2. This article explains the basic sources and techniques of legal research for historians and others not formally prepared to work with cases, statutes, and other legal materials.

Studying the West in Federal Court Records by Larisa K. Miller. From Western Legal History, Vol. 10, Nos. 1 & 2. Federal courts have been intimately involved in the growth and expansion of the American West, and the court records held by the Pacific Region (San Francisco) of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) illuminate and enrich the history of that growth. In addition to recording legal decisions and constitutional precedents (which can be obtained from a law library), this vast collection of primary sources documents important issues in the economic, environmental, and social history of the West, and serves as a unique resource for historical research.

The Lives and Careers of Judges and Other Employees in the Federal Judicial System: Some Pointers on Research by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens. From Western Legal History, Vol. 10, Nos. 1 & 2. A variety of records and publications are useful in researching the lives and careers of judges, marshals, clerks of court, and other employees in the federal judicial system, including records of the federal government held by the National Archives and Records Administration. This article identifies some of those sources, with an emphasis on nineteenth-century records.

Saving Yesterday Today for Tomorrow: A Guide to Oral History For The Bench and Bar by Carol Hicke. The information in this guide has been gleaned from a wide array of oral history programs and is based on the knowledge and experiences of oral historians at the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C.; the Oregon Historical Society; the Regional Oral History Office at the University of California, Berkeley; and the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society. The guide is in two parts: the first offers step-by-step procedures for conducting an oral history; the second deals with the problems of establishing a program and includes explanations about the discipline of oral history.

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