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Comparative Constitutional Law Databases

The Law Library has two databases that can help those doing research in foreign and comparative constitutional law. Each provides full text access to national constitutions in English translation, together with additional information and commentary.

Constitutions of the Countries of the World (CCW) is an Oxford University Press database. It supports searches by jurisdiction, text, document type (historical and/or current constitution), scope (constitutional/other documents), date, or any combination. However, for most needs the simplest search is simply to browse the jurisdiction list for the country that interests you. For each country, the database contains the current, consolidated constitution in English, together with historical documents, comprising the original version of the current constitution, together with unconsolidated amending acts and other acts considered to be of a constitutional nature. In addition to high-quality translations of the constitutions themselves, the most important feature of this database consists of commentaries for each country, which provide lengthy, encyclopedic introductions to the drafting history, basic principles, and significant developments in their recent constitutional history. These commentaries are prepared by the Max Planck Institut at Heidelberg.

Whereas CCW existed for almost 40 years as a print title before going online, World Constitutions Illustrated (WCI) is a new database in HeinOnline, with several outstanding features of its own. Like CCW, it provides both a search interface permitting combination of data elements from various record fields and a country browse list. For each country it then provides a fairly comprehensive collection of constitutions. This collection will typically include multiple consolidated versions of current and historical constitutions, in English and the official language of their original publication, together with informational source notes stating the official or unofficial sources from which they were taken. Many of the historical texts are taken from such reprint sources as British and Foreign State Papers, and have not yet been added from their original publication source; this is a potentially massive database that will be in development for many years to come.

In addition to its primary source content, WCI also provides direct or indirect access to a large body of commentary. This includes links to relevant articles in the HeinOnline journals library, as well as to a collection of older monographs that have been added directly to the WCI library. At present this includes some 800 titles. Finally, through the efforts of contributing librarians HeinOnline is compiling a bibliography of articles and more recent (still copyrighted) books on the constitutional law and history of each country, with click-through links to bibliographic records in IUCAT or WorldCat for some of them. These links make it easy to determine which of the titles are held in the IU Libraries system.

In summary, CCW is outstanding for research in current constitutional law, and its proprietary encyclopedic commentary provides excellent background material. WCI is excellent especially for historical research.



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