The Law Library of Congress has digitized and published its first batch of historical legal reports as part of a multi-year effort to archive and share thousands of these reports with researchers and other members of the public.
These first 250 digitized reports are now available through the Publications of the Law Library of Congress collection, which features research reports and other publications on a wide range of legal topics. The reports were prepared by the Law Library of Congress in response to requests or recurring interest from Congress and other federal government entities on issues concerning foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL).
In addition to current research products on FCIL topics, this collection includes legal reports that have been previously unavailable to the public. The reports contain analysis of foreign and international law from the period of the 1940s to the present, and will be released in phases that include both digitized paper reports as well as older born-digital reports that have not previously been made available online through law.gov. Please note: these reports are provided for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and do not represent the official opinion of the United States Government. The information provided reflects research undertaken as of the date of writing, which has not been updated unless specifically noted.
This project presents the opportunity to engage new audiences with works authored by the Law Library over the last several decades. It will expand digital access not only for the legal historians, policymakers, scholars, and foreign legal specialists who currently refer to Law Library reports, but also for students of history, government, public policy, and international relations, as well as to interested members of the public who would benefit from the ability to sort, browse, and download these historical reports all in one online collection.
As part of a joint effort to provide increased access to Library-generated research reports, the Law Library is proud to work with the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO), who will provide full bibliographic records for these newly available reports. In addition to their availability on loc.gov, these reports will also be discoverable through the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP).
Reports released in this first batch cover a range of legal topics from regions across the globe, from Eastern and Western Asia to Europe and Africa, and are mostly concentrated in the 1960s-1980s. One word of caution about the legibility of some of these older reports: many were digitized from thin, carbon paper copies and have not been found in any other printed format. In many cases, these historical copies represent the only known remaining versions of the reports, and the presentation quality is not what is available in contemporary Law Library reports. Please note that, in this batch as well as in future updates to the collection, there will be a wide range in the original quality of the older reports released, not due to the quality of the scanning, but due to the poor print quality of the copies of the original reports themselves.
Users can now browse this growing trove of historical legal research and analysis through the Law Library of Congress’s Digital Collections page, and can look forward to seeing updates on a regular basis. New and recent reports will continue to be published on law.gov, but will later be available in the digital collection as well. A complete list of reports currently hosted on law.gov is available through the Comprehensive Index of Legal Reports and current legal reports are available on the Current Legal Topics section of law.gov.