Quick Facts

  • 9,746 British titles / 4,928,844 pages
  • 12,068 American titles / 5,628,441 pages
  • 10,557,285 pages
  • 21,811 MARC records


TIME PERIOD: 1800–1926


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Related Subject Areas
American History
British History
Constitutional Law
European History
Intellectual Law
Labor and Social Welfare
Native Americans
Political Science

Related Areas of Interest
American Civil War/Reconstruction
Atlantic Studies
British Empire
Civil Rights
Legal History
U.S. Constitution
U.S. South
Victorian/Romantic Era

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises? 
Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800–1926, is a fully searchable database of more than 21,000 Anglo-American monographs including casebooks, local practice manuals, form books, works for lay readers, pamphlets, letters, and speeches. Treatises from major legal thinkers are included — Coke, Blackstone, Bentham, Maitland, Kent, Story, Holmes and more. The collection is derived from two reference sources for historical legal studies: the Nineteenth Century Legal Treatises and Twentieth Century Legal Treatises microfilm collections.


What is a legal treatise? 
Both the British and American legal treatise collections were developed under the following rubric: A legal treatise is defined as monographs or limited series which contain writings about the law rather than actual laws or actual cases.  Legal treatises are not trial transcripts, state documents, collections of laws, or judicial reports. They are secondary source materials that analyze and examine the law, usually a specific law or subject area.  They are non-serial writings about the law.


How is Legal Treatises useful to historians?
Because the concerns of society can be studied through books on the law, the value of  legal treatises touches on all fields of history. Discussion of cases and reasons for a change in the law offer historians insight into values, prejudices, and the manner in which society functioned. Legal treatises may be of interest to researchers of social, economic, political, colonial, and cultural history, as well as to students of religion, criminology, and sociology.

The classic works in legal history treat subjects in ancient and medieval law as well as the nineteenth century, and these texts serve as foundation sources for our understanding of the field. Consider the work of two English jurists and historians prominently featured in the collection: Frederick William Maitland (1850–1906), author of Domesday Book and Beyond (1897), Town and Borough (1898); Roman Canon Law in the Church of England (1898); English Law and the Renaissance (1901); and The Constitutional History of England (1908); and Maitland’s collaborator Frederick Pollock (1845–1937), author of The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (1895) and The Expansion of the Common Law (1904).


What are the major source institutions for the Legal Treatises collection?
Harvard Law School Law Library and Yale Law School Library are the major sources for the collection. Other sources follow (approximate percentage in the collection in parenthesis):

  • Harvard Law School Library (81.33%)
  • Yale Law School Library (11.53%)
  • York University Law School Library (3.58%)
  • Columbia Law School Library (1.08%)
  • Georgia University Law Library (0.45%)
  • Minnesota University Law Library (0.45%)
  • Southern Illinois University Law Library (0.28%)


Is there a bibliography for the collection?
There is no one definitive bibliographical source for The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises.  Indeed, the collection itself may well comprise the only definitive source for this type of material. A number of sources were consulted over the years of its creation.  These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Maxwell, W. Harold and Leslie F. Maxwell (comps.) A Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations. 2nd ed.  London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1955-64, 7 vols.  Currently published as Sweet and Maxwell’s Legal Bibliography of the British Commonwealth of Nations. 2nd ed. London: Rees, 1989-
  • Sweet & Maxwell’s Complete Law Book Catalogue.  London: Sweet & Maxwell, 1925–1949. 7 vols.
  • Wallach, Kate, “The Publication of Legal Treatises in American from 1800–1830.”  Law Library Journal. Vol. 45.  Pp. 136-48.
  • Parish, Jenni.  “Law Books and Legal Publishing in America, 1760–1840.”  Law Library Journal. Vol. 72.  Pp. 355-452
  • Cohen, Morris L. Bibliography of Early American Law.  Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein & Co., 1998. 6 v.
  • Taylor, Betty W., and Robert J. Munro.  American Law Publishing, 1860–1900. Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.: Glanville Publications, c. 1984. 4 v.


Would you name examples of active scholarly use of The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises?
Yes, as follows:

University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law December, 2007


Fabio Arcila, Jr.

In conducting research for this Article, I benefited from an advantage that Cuddihy did not enjoy: text-searchable, digitized databases of historic legal texts. Two such databases, which the publisher Thomson-Gale offers on a subscription basis, greatly aided my research. One is the Eighteenth Century Collections Online database, which makes available significant legal titles from the eighteenth century. See Gale, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (last visited Nov. 8, 2007). Another is The Making of Modern Law database, which covers legal titles from 1800–1926. See Gale, The Making of Modern Law (last visited Nov. 8, 2007). These databases are available through some law libraries, such as those of Touro Law Center (which recently began subscribing to the latter) and Fordham University Law School (which subscribes to both).

Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review Winter, 2008


See, e.g., JOHN TORREY MORSE, A TREATISE ON THE LAW OF BANKS AND BANKING, § 209, at 668 (5th ed. 1917) ("A national bank cannot hire its officers for any specified time, unless they are subject to removal by the board of directors."); see also Note, supra note 83, at 518 (summarizing the courts as having "uniformly ... construed [the National Bank Act] to permit removal of officers under employment contracts for a term of years without liability"); cf. R.M. Jackson, Stipendiary Magistrates and Lay Justices, 9 MOD. L. REV. 1 (1946) (describing the Stipendiary Magistrates Act of 1863 which stated that Stipendiaries hold their office "during pleasure" to provide for "no security of tenure"); Tenure of Office by Colonial Judges, 16 MOD. L. REV. 502, 506 (1953) (arguing that British judges who serve "at pleasure" do not hold their offices "by virtue of contract," for any contract not to dismiss them for a specified period is "ultra vires and unenforceable"). Additionally, the author's computerized search of 20,000 nineteenth and early twentieth century American and British legal treatises found not a single one suggesting that the Banking Act's "at pleasure" provision had been intended or was being interpreted to preempt state employment law. The Making of Modern Law, Legal Treatises 1800–1926, available through Harvard Law Library website.

Brooklyn Law Review Spring 2006


Steven Semeraro

To fully understand the creative aspects of habeas doctrine one would need to explore the legal history of the United States in considerable depth, a project that would extend far beyond the scope of this Article. This Part attempts to open the exploration by looking to some newly accessible sources of political and legal commentary that provide a glimpse into the role habeas has played in American legal history. The searchable database of articles in The Nation dating back to the 1860s, and the Gale Group's equally accessible The Making of Modern Law database, which gathers historical journals and treatises dating back to the early nineteenth century, provide many intriguing references to habeas corpus. As more databases of this type are created, historical research will become a more manageable task.

Northwestern University Law Review Special Issue 2006 Symposium

The First Century: Celebrating 100 Years of Legal Scholarship THE INCOME TAX AND THE BURDEN OF PERFECTION

Charlotte Crane

Less than six months after its enactment in 1894, a treatise of more than 500 pages was published. Roger Foster & Everett V. Abbot, A Treatise on the Federal Income Tax Under the Act of 1894 (1895). The Making of Modern Law series includes at least six titles devoted to explaining the 1894 income tax, a tax that the federal government showed only the slightest interest in actually collecting. The same source includes at least twelve titles published in 1913 regarding the 1913 Act. Indeed, the same collection includes at least six titles analyzing the 1862 federal internal taxes.

Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 5.2 (2007) 223-251

The American Revolution, Wife Beating, and the Emergent Value of Privacy

Ruth H. Bloch

The graph in Figure 1 expresses the data from our survey of The Making of Modern Law in percentages. We found nine justice of the peace manuals in 1800–1809 (in which four had passages about binding abusive husbands with sureties of the peace); in 1830–39 we found fourteen manuals (in which four had such passages); in 1850–59 we found twenty manuals (in which two had such passages); in 1880–89 we found seventeen manuals (in which none had such a passage).


Is the collection difficult to use? 
No, it is very easy to use. Browse or search by title, author, subject or keyword. Each of the pages is searchable and each work is entirely accessible in its original format, including full text, table of contents, index, illustrations and front matter. The search capability is simple to understand, and employs such enhancement tools as Search Operators and Proximity, truncation, and date ranges. It also includes advanced page navigation options, searches by entering a page image number, a printed page number, or by using a list on the side of the screen to navigate between pages with matches for the search term. Valuable filters in Advanced Search (by Topic) help to zero in on specific subjects. Subject search is a useful way to narrow the results field.