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The Indiana Law Library Blog

Researching the History of International Law

International law scholars have always been interested in the historical development of their subject. In part this is so because the historical evolution of international law doctrine continues to influence its current understanding and application. But it is also true that the historical approach simply reflects the inherent interest of studying international law from that perspective.

The Law Library has many resources that are potentially quite useful to international law historians. First and foremost, the Library has a substantial collection of books on international law dating back to the mid-19th century. Many of them were originally purchased by the Wells Library, but transferred to the Law Library collection in the mid-1990s. These books can easily be located in IUCAT by means of an Advanced Keyword Search. For example, you might search for the subject keywords “international law” combined with a publication date range of 1850-1935 in order to get an overview of the Library’s older collection of international law monographs. Of course, more specific subject terms are also available. For example, you might use the subject keywords “Hague Peace Conference” to find books in the collection about the 1907 2nd Hague Peace Conference. Remember that IUCAT searches default to All Bloomington Libraries, and that you will need to change the default in order to search just the Law Library’s collection.

The Library also has several databases that would be useful to anyone researching topics in international law history. First, the Library recently subscribed to HeinOnline’s History of International Law Library. This database provides access to more than 725 titles (mostly monographs) and 600,000 pages dating back to 1690. The database can be browsed by broad categories, such as war & peace, international arbitration, law of the sea, and Hague conferences and conventions. Standard HeinOnline field and advanced search templates are also available to search title words, full-text terms, etc.  Second, the Encyclopedia of Public International Law has a broad subject heading, “History of International Law”, which is assigned currently to 96 articles. An Advanced Search template permits one to combine this subject heading with full-text or title words to zero in more precisely on desired articles.

In addition to these databases, the Library also subscribes to several general databases with content relevant to the history of international law. For example, the Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises, 1800-1926, documents the development of American and English law during the 19th century, including the development of international law doctrine. LLMC Digital also includes a number of 19th and early 20th century international law treatises.

Finally, the Library has recently subscribed to The Making of Modern Law: Foreign, Comparative, and International Law, 1600-1926, which will become available this summer. Its international law component features works of some of the great legal theorists, including Gentili, Grotius, Selden, Zouche, Pufendorf, Bijnkershoek, Wolff, Vattel, Martens, Mackintosh, and Wheaton, among others. Like other components of the Making of Modern Law series, this collection is drawn from the Harvard Law School Library, the Yale Law Library, and the Law Library of Congress.

When using these electronic resources, you should keep in mind that all titles in LLMC Digital, the Making of Modern Law Series, and the HeinOnline History of International Law Library are included in IUCAT, meaning that you can search for content either in IUCAT or using the individual database search interfaces. However, if you want to use IUCAT just to search for printed works in the collection, you can do that by constructing an Advanced Keyword Search that excludes any record containing the keyword “electronic.”

Pink Slime and the Congressional Research Service

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a new report on the recent pink slime controversy. But Congress hasn’t made it publicly available.  You can find this report at Secrecy News (a blog of the Federation of American Scientists):

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the U.S.  Congress.  Since 1914 this Library of Congress “think tank” has provided Congress with research and objective analysis on a wide variety of topics.  CRS reports and issue briefs are widely regarded as a source of non-partisan, timely, and accurate information, but Congress does not make these reports easily available to the public.  Traditionally, if you wanted a CRS report, you had had to ask your Representative in Congress to send you a paper copy (or a PDF). 

CRS reports are now available through a few commercial vendors, including ProQuest Congressional (1916—present ), which you can access from the Library’s website, under Online Resources.

You can also find collections of CRS reports that are in the public domain at the following sites:

  • Open CRS:  searchable database of over 10,000 CRS reports (including many libraries’ collections).
  • National Council for Science and the Environment: posts CRS reports on the environment and related topics. The site provides a search engine including title, author, topic and date with over 2000 reports listed.
  • Federation of American Scientists posts CRS reports on the following subjects: Intelligence; Military and National Security; Space and Science; and Nuclear, Chemical and Missile Weapons and Proliferation.
  • U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Center posts a small number of reports, updated daily, on subjects including foreign nations, terrorism, foreign assistance, and military affairs.
  • Franklin Pierce Law Center posts intellectual property, cyber-law, and electronic commerce related documents from 1993 to the present.
  • Thurgood Marshall Law Library has a collection of CRS reports that you can view by subjects such as Taxation, Criminal Law & Procedure, Election Law, Labor and Employment and many others.
  • University of North Texas Libraries provides searchable access to over 11,000 CRS reports dating back to 1970. You can also browse by subject.

If you need help finding CRS reports or any other Congressional publications, just ask for assistance at the reference desk!

Count Down to Tax Day!

April 17 is this year’s deadline to file your 2011 federal tax return.

Here are some last-minute resources and useful information, courtesy of USA.gov:

You can check your refund status within 72 hours of e-filing or within 4 weeks of mailing a paper return.

If you can’t file your tax return by the deadline, you can request an extension. An extension does not give you additional time to pay if you owe taxes. You’ll need to estimate the amount you owe and submit a payment in order to avoid interest and penalty charges.

Jumpstart Returns!

The extremely popular Jumpstart research program returns to the Law Library. Jumpstart sessions will be available April 9th-April 17th. The program, designed by the reference librarians, will again work towards preparing law students for summer clerkships and the first year of practice. During last year’s sessions, a number of students learned the necessary research skills for dealing with materials such as legislative history, administrative law and the regulatory process, and computer-assisted legal research.

Following the formula established in previous years, each of the Jumpstart sessions will begin with a brief review of the basic legal resources so that every student has a complete grasp of the legal research process. The librarians will also provide information about more specialized types of reference books, including practice aids and form books. The Jumpstart sessions will then focus on individual student problems and questions about legal research, with an emphasis on the type of practice student participants will be seeing in the summer.

If you have any questions about the Jumpstart programs, be sure to drop by the Reference Office and speak to a reference librarian. We’d especially like to hear from those of you who already know in what jurisdiction you’ll be working this summer and any special areas of law with which you’ll be dealing. We tailor the Jumpstart sessions to your particular needs in order to make the program a continuing success.