Harvard Law School History
Portrait of C.C. Langdell, olvwork129054
This guide was originally created by Janet C. Katz, Senior Research Librarian
Images from Harvard Law School Historical & Special Collections. Explore more of Harvard's visual collections in VIA.
Guide updated by Mindy Kent, Manager of Research Services
Start with secondary sources:
Start your historical research in secondary sources such as books, journal articles and newspapers.
Reading books and articles early in a project provides an overview of the times, the issues, and the names of people and organizations associated with your topic.
The footnotes and bibliographies in secondary sources can also be a valuable shortcut to identifying the principle primary sources in your area of research.
Find primary sources:
Use primary sources to dig deeper into your topic and find accounts and artifacts of events as they occured.
Special collection libraries and archival repositories here at Harvard and elsewhere are a great source of unique and rare books, historical manuscripts, documents, photographs, maps, artifacts, and numeric data.
Who else cares?
What other organizations might care about your topic, or about law schools and legal education? Professional organizations, policy groups and accrediting bodies all produce reports, publications and directories that may give insight into the people and issues you are researching and document historical changes.
Go by the numbers:
For some topics you may want to explore statistics and demographics related to law schools and law school faculty and students.
Focus on a place:
There is a body of scholarship examining the history of specific law schools. Use these sources to focus your research on a particular place.
Don't waste time. Ask Us!
Librarians are here to help. Schedule a research appointment, ask a question or chat with us.