Researching Laws & Legislation

Submitted by Tierney Gleason on May 15th, 2023
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Short Description: 

Learn how to go beneath the headlines and current debates to examine the text of laws and/or proposed legislation with a focus on Congress, the Supreme Court, Executive Orders, and state legislatures. This introductory workshop will highlight library resources, open government resources, and search strategies to support researchers across many disciplines and interest areas to navigate legal and legislative history resources.

Learning Outcomes: 
  • - Participants will understand the importance of collecting background information to support searching for laws & legislative history.
  • - Participants will learn about the pros & cons of library databases versus open government resources.
  • - Participants will become reacquainted with civics/how government works as they learn to select information resources based on jurisdiction and navigate database limiters that organize information by legislative activity and/or document type.
Individual or Group: 
Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

Iterations of this session have been offered as workshops. This session appeals to students across many disciplines who use legal research (Journalism, Social Work, Education, Political Science, History, etc) as well as activists, genealogists, and more.

Additional Instructor Resources (e.g. in-class activities, worksheets, scaffolding applications, supplemental modules, further readings, etc.): 

Lesson plan includes search examples and background information that help with searching for legal resources.

Potential Pitfalls and Teaching Tips: 
Suggested Citation: 
Gleason, Tierney. "Researching Laws & Legislation." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2023.