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Prestatehood Legal Materials

A database derived from the award-winning sourcebook Prestatehood Legal Materials, providing brief overviews of state histories from colonization to statehood.


An Invaluable and Comprehensive Research Tool

Prestatehood Legal Materials is a database derived from the AALL’s Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award-winning 2005 sourcebook, Prestatehood Legal Materials: A Fifty-State Research Guide, Including New York City and the District of Columbia, which is edited by Michael Chiorazzi and Marguerite Most and is held in more than 350 libraries. It provides:

  • Brief overviews of state histories from colonization to statehood
  • Identification of a wide range of both readily available and hard-to-find materials from each state
  • Links to more than 1,500 full-text documents


Unprecedented in its coverage of territorial government, Prestatehood Legal Materials holds resources that reveal the underlying legal principles that helped shape the United States. Research how foreign countries controlled the laws of these territories and how the states eventually broke away to govern themselves. Examine the legal issues with Native Americans, inter-state and the Mexican and Canadian borders, and the development of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government.


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According to Fred R. Shapiro, from Yale Law School:

A high standard of excellence is maintained throughout. Coverage is exhaustive, including legislative, constitutional, executive, judicial, and secondary sources, plus, manuscript materials and online resources.

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