James Madison University
Libraries & Educational Technologies


United States Constitution

Updated and maintained by Patricia Hardesty
Liaison Librarian for History, Philosophy and Religion, Political Science.
Originally compiled by Gordon Miller

November 2002

This guide describes a variety of sources in Carrier Library for researching the United States Constitution. The Library has several of the major bibliographies and encyclopedias which were published in the 1980's as part of the bicentennial of the Constitution.

Table of Contents

Subject Headings

The following subject headings are useful in researching the Constitution. Individuals involved, e.g. James Madison and John Marshall, can also be searched as subjects. For additional headings use the Library of Congress Subject Headings volumes located near the printers in the Carrier Library reference area.

Civil rights
Constitutional conventions
United States. Constitution
United States. Constitution - Amendments
United States. Constitution - 1st-10th Amendments
United States. - Constitutional convention, 1787
United States. - Constitutional history
United States. - Constitutional law
United States. Supreme Court.


The work by Kermit Hall heads this list of guides and bibliographies. It offers comprehensive coverage. This section has the major sources for locating archival and manuscript sources.

Bibliographic Index: a Cumulative Bibliography of Bibliographies . New York: H. W. Wilson, 1937- .
(Index/Abstract Stacks).
A subject approach which lists bibliographies in books and journal articles.

Congressional Information Service. CIS U. S. Serial Set Index . Washington, D. C.: The Service, 1975-1978. 36 vol.
(Ref Z 1223 Z9 C65 1975).
This indexes the major government document series, the Serial Set. It covers 1789-1969. The CIS Annual (noted below) indexes this to date. Carrier Library has the documentation, on microfiche, from 1789 - 1879. From 1959 to date it is available in paper and microfiche formats. The index for 1789-1969 is also available at the Public Services Desk on a CD-ROM, Congressional Masterfile 1..

Hall, Kermit L. A Comprehensive Bibliography of American Constitutional and Legal History, 1896-1979 . Millwood, N. Y.: Kraus International, 1984. 5 vol.
(Ref KF 4541 H34 1984).
An English language scholarly bibliography listing books, articles, and dissertations. The most comprehensive bibliography available. A supplement, in two volumes for the years 1980-1987 is located at the same call number.

McCarrick, Earlean M. U.S. Constitution: a Guide to Information Sources . Detroit: Gale Research, 1980.
(Ref KF 4546 A1 M26).
An annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Arranged by subject and by Constitutional article and amendment.

Mason, Alpheus T. American Constitutional Development . Arlington Heights, Ill.: AHM, 1977.
(KF 4546 M38).
Books and journal articles. Not annotated.

Millett, Stephen M. A Selected Bibliography of American Constitutional History . Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Books, 1975.
(Ref KF 4546 M54).
Books and journal articles. The forword provides a useful essay on key sources.

The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Sources . Washington, D. C.: Library of Congress, 1959/61-1993.
(Biblio Z 6620 U5 N3).
The standard indexing source for manuscripts in major American repositories.

Reams, Bernard D. The Constitution of the United States: a Guide and Bibliography to Current Scholarly Research . Dobbs Ferry, N. Y.: Oceana, 1987.
(Ref KF 4546 A1 R4 1987).
Books, articles, legal treatises, and government documents are listed. Coverage is 1970-1986. The arrangement is by article of the Constitution and by the amendments.

United States. National Archives and Records Service. Guide to the Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States . Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1995. 3 vol.
(Ref CD 3026 1995).
A mandatory source for knowing about National Archives collections. The guide addresses government agencies and notes the scope of their holdings. Click on National Archives for Internet access to the guide.

Writings on American History . Washington, D. C.: American Historical Association, 1902-1961.
(Ref E 178 L331).
Comprehensive, annual bibliography. Not issued for 1904-1905 and 1941-1947. A cumulative index covering the years 1902-1940 is available.


Chandler, Ralph C. The Constitutional Law Dictionary. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 1985- . 2 vols.
(Ref KF 4548.5 C47 1985).
Topical arrangement with brief definitions.

Kurland, Philip B. The Founders' Constitution. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1987. 5 vol.
(Ref KF 4502 F68 1987).
A documentary history of the preparation and ratification of the Consititution. Volume 1 is organized into eighteen themes while volumes 2-5 are organized by specific clause, article, or amendment. The majority of the documents are from 1787-1791 with documents as late as 1835 being included. Bibliographies are included. Volume 5 contains the Constitution and a table of cases cited. Indexes are in each volume.

Levy, Leonard W., ed. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York: Macmillan, 1986.
(Ref KF 4548 E53 1986).
Excellent encyclopedia with articles on individual subjects, individuals, landmark law decisions, etc. Brief bibliographies. Appendices include a chronology of the birth of the Constitution and important events in the history of Constitutional law. A 1992 supplement is available.

Lieberman, Jethro K. A Practical Companion to the Constitution: How the Supreme Court Has Ruled on Issues from Abortion to Zoning. Berkeley, Calif.: Unversity of California, 1999.
(Ref KF 4548 L54 1999).
This is an updated and expanded ed. of The Evolving Constitution. Arranged in dictionary format this source includes footnotes to over 2600 law cases. Scholarly.

Newman, Roger K.The Constitution and Its Amendments. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 1999. 4 vol.
(Ref KF 4557 C66 1999).
This is an encyclopedia that takes each article of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and a nalyzes its coverage and how it has been interpreted. Illustrated with the text written in a more popular manner.


Borden, Morton, ed. The Antifederalists. (East Lansing, Mich.: Michigan State University, 1965.
(JK 116 B6).
An early compilation of the widely scattered papers.

The Complete Anti-Federalist; Edited, with Commentary and Notes, by Herbert J. Storing . Chicago: University of Chicago, 1981. 7 vol.
(KF 4515 C65).
All known Anti-Federalist writings, two-thirds of which have never been published since the eighteenth century, are printed in their entirety. Indexed.

The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1976- .
(KF 4502 D63).
The definitive edition of the documents on the ratification, by state, of the Constitution. Originally planned in 1936 this series is in process. Annotated.

Ford, Paul L., ed. Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, Published During its Discussion by the People, 1787-1788. Brooklyn: Ford, 1888; reprint ed., New York: Da Dapo, 1968.
(JK 171 F71 1968).
Useful for the notes and lengthy bibliography. The original edition is in the LAC @ 15688.

Library of Congress. Legislative Reference Service. Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.
(JK 11 1927).
This source contains texts of a number of proposals differing from the more familiar Madison plans. Also available in the LAC @ 13492-13493.

Madison, James. The Papers of James Madison, Purchased by Order of Congress; Being His Correspondence and Reports of Debates During the Congress of the Confederation and His Reports of Debates in Federal Convention.... New York: J. & H G. Langley, 1841.
(JK 111 M23 1841).
An example of primary source material from an individual. For additional documentation by and about James Madison, or other involved individuals, search both by author and subject in the online catalog.

Meigs, William M. The Growth of the Constitution in the Federal Convention of 1787; an Effort to Trace the Origin and Development of Each Separate Clause from its First Suggestion in that Body to the Form Finally Approved.... Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1899.
(LAC 12749).
Meigs details the handling of each clause during the Constitutional Convention. There is no historical material prior to the Convention. Indexed.

United States. Bureau of Rolls and Library. Documentary History of the Constitution of the United States of America, 1786-1870; Derived from the Records, Manuscripts, and Rolls Deposited in the Bureau of Rolls and Library of the Department of State. Washington, D. C.: Department of State, 1894-1905. 5 vol.
(JK 111 A52).
Volumes 1-3 are available in paper. The full set is available @ LAC 21392-21396. The documents include notes and papers of James Madison.

United States. Constitutional Convention (1787). Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787, Reported by James Madison. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University, 1966.
(JK 141 1966).
The Library has several additional editions of the debates published under varying titles. Use the author entry, United States. Constitutional Convention (1787), to locate additional sources .

United States. Constitutional Convention (1787). The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Edited by Max Farrand. rev. ed. New Haven: Yale University, 1937. 4 vol.
(JK 141 1937a).
The 1911 edition, in three volumes, is located @ LAC 23259-23261.

United States. President. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1902. Washington, D. C.: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1903. 10 vol.
(J 81 B96 1903).
An early version of current Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States series. Presidents from George Washington through Theodore Roosevelt are included. An index to the set is in the final volume.

United States. President. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States..., Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President.... Washington, D. C.: National Archives and Records Service, 1929- .
(J 80 A283).
The standard source for presidential papers from Herbert Hoover to date. Franklin D. Roosevelt's administrations have not been published.


Blaustein, Albert P. The Bicentennial Concordance: Indexes to the Constitution of the United States of America. Littleton, Colo.: F.B. Rothman, 1992.
( Ref KF 4528.5 B53 1992).
Indexes include topical, analytical and a key word in context listing.

Corwin, Edward S. Edward S. Corwin's the Constitution and What it Means Today . 14th ed. Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University, 1978.
(KF 4550 C64 1978).
A basic text by an eminent constitutional scholar.

Engeman, Thomas S. The Federalist Concordance. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1988.
(Ref KF 4515 E53 1988).

Federalist. The Federalist; a Commentary on the Constitution of the United States, Being a Collection of Essays Written in Support of the Constitution Agreed Upon September 17, 1787, by the Federal Convention.... Washington, D. C.: National Home Library Foundation, [1939] .
(JK 154 F4 1938).
The Federalist contains eighty-five essays by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay advocating ratification of the Constitution. Check the catalog under Federalist, as author, for additional editions. Title varies.

Konvitz, Milton R. Bill of Rights Reader; Leading Constitutional Cases. 5th ed., rev. Ithaca, N. Y.: Cornell University, 1973.
(KF 4748 K6 1973).
In a topical format this treatise provides commentary on a large number of Supreme Court decisions. The majority of the decisions are from the 1960's and early 1970's.

Nowak, John E. Handbook on Constitutional Law. St. Paul: West, 1978.
(KF 4500 N6 1978).
Example of a treatise.

Renstrom, Peter G. Constitutional Rights Sourcebook. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 1999.
(Ref KF 4550 Z9 R463 1999).
This treatise discusses the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments to the Constitution. Additional material covers equal protection and privacy. Scholarly.

United States. Congress. Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee on the Constitution. Federal Civil Rights Laws: a Sourcebook. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1984.
(Gov Doc Y4.J89/2:S.prt 98-245).
A review of civil rights laws and material from 1789 to date. Contains the partial text of some laws and materials from the United States Code. A summary of recent Supreme Court decisions is provided. A bibliography of current literature concludes the volume.

United States. Constitution. The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation.... Rev. ed. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1996.
(Ref KF 4527 J39 1996).
Commentary on the articles, clauses, etc. of the Constitution. Supreme Court decisions are discussed and cited. Tables on amendments, court decisions, etc. are included. Kept current by cumulative pocket supplements. Also on the Internet @ Constitution .

Williams, Jerre S. Constitutional Analysis in a Nutshell. St. Paul: West, 1979.
(KF 4550 W53).
Overview of the judicial process with reference to leading Supreme Court decisions.

Supreme Court

The Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise. New York: Macmillan, 1971- .
in process. (call numbers vary, see the catalog).
This is a series of volumes planned as the definitive history of the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Review. 1960- . annual.
Online in Periodical Locator.
Scholarly essays on all aspects of Supreme Court work.

United States. Supreme Court. United States Reports. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1754- .
(Ref KF 101 U58).
The official Supreme Court Reporter. Carrier Library has this from vol. 406, 1971- . Cited as US. This series is available on the Internet and on the LexisNexis Academic database.


United States. United States Code: Containing the General and Permanent Laws of the United States in Force.... Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1926- .
(Ref KF 62 2000 A2).
First published in 1926 the Code has been published in six year cycles since 1934. The Code is the "official restatement of the law in force." Cited as USC. The current USC is available on the Internet @ USC.

United States. United States Statutes at Large, Containing the Laws and Concurrent Resolutions... . Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1789- .
(Ref KF 50 U52 and Microform Area).
The text of United States laws are published in this work. From vol. 86, 1972- this is located in reference. From 1789 - 1972 this is located in the Microform Area on microfiche. Current "slip laws" are located at the Public Services Desk area. This is cited variously as P.L., Stat, or Stat at L. Current Statutes are available on the Internet @ Statutes at Large.


American National Biography . New York: Oxford University, 1999. 24 vol
(Ref CT 213 A68 1999).
The standard, scholarly biographical dictionary of deceased Americans. Useful for its bibliographies of primary and secondary sources. Also available as a database.

Friedman, Leon. The Justices of the United States Supreme Court, 1789-1969, Their Lives and Major Opinions . New York: Chelsea House in Association with Bowker, 1969-1978, 5 vol.
(KF 8744 F75).
Biographical sketches of the justices are followed by a "selected bibliography." Justices, have one, or more, Court opinions printed to demonstrate their work on the bench.

United States. National Park Service. Signers of the Constitution: Historic Places Commemorating the Signing of the Constitution . Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1976.
(Gov Doc I29.2:H62/9/v.19).
An introductory section on the historical background of the period is followed by biographical sketches of the signers. A survey of historical sites and buildings associated with the signers completes the illustrated book.


Directories can be useful in locating sources of information elsewhere and offer contact points to extend the research process.

Ash, Lee. Subject Collections: a Guide to Special Book Collections and Subject Emphases as Reported by University, College, Public, and Special Libraries.... 7th ed. New Providence, N. J.: R. R. Bowker, 1993.
(Ref Z 688 A2 A8 1993).
A directory, arranged by subject, listing major library collections.

Associations Unlimited.
Online in Research Databases.
A directory of associations.

Style Manuals

Carrier Library has a large number of style manuals useful in citing legal and document sources. The two listed are the best sources in this area. Check at the Public Services Desk for further assistance.

Garner, Diane L. The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: a Manual for Writers & Librarians. rev. ed. 1993.
(Ref J 9.5 ...).

A Uniform System of Citation. 17th ed. Cambridge, Mass.: The Harvard Law Review Association, 2000.
(Ref KF 246 U5 2000).


Carrier Library has a large number of indexes and abstracts useful for researching the Constitution. The following titles include several perspectives including history, political science, law, government documents, and dissertations. The indexing ranges from general, e.g. the Readers' Guide Abstracts, to the indexing for dissertations. Unless noted these titles are located in the index/abstract area.

America: History and Life. 1964- .
CIS Annual. 1970- . (print).
Combined Retrospective Index to Journals in History: 1838-1974. (print).
Essay and General Literature Index. 1900- . (print). (1985- as a database).
GPO Monthly Catalog. 1976- .
Humanities Abstracts. 1974- . (database 1984- .
Index to U. S. Government Periodicals. 1970-1987. (print).
International Political Science Abstracts. 1979- . (print).
Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications. 1939- . (print).
Nineteenth Century Reader's Guide. 1890-1899. (print).
PAIS. 1917-1921, 1923-1924, 1929- . (print) (database 1972- ).
Poole's Index to Periodical Literature. 1802-1906. (print).
Reader's GuideAbstracts. 1900- .(print). (database 1983- .).
Social Sciences and Humanities Index. 1965-1974. (print).
Social Sciences Citation Index. 1976-1986. (print).
Social Sciences Abstracts. 1974- . (Database 1983- ).
U.S. Government Periodicals Index. 1992- .


A wide range of journals will have research articles on the United States Constitution. The indexes/abstracts listed above are the major access points to periodical literature. One periodical was published for several years in commemoration of the bicentennial of the Constitution. It is:

Constitution. 1988-1995.
This Constitution. 1983-1988.
Sponsored by the American Historical Association and the American Political Science Association this journal was published on an irregular basis. Contents include articles on the Constitution, on how to instruct classes, and on events taking place to honor the bicentennial.

Virginia Independent: A Chronicle of the Constitution's Bicentenary in Virginia. 1986-1991.

We the People of the United States ...: Newsletter of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution. 1985-1990.


New York Times Index. 1851-2004.

This page is maintained by: Patricia Hardesty
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James Madison University Libraries & Educational Technologies