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Beyond Case Reporters: Using Newspapers to Supplement the Legal-Historical Record (A Case Study of Blasphemous Libel)


For decades, students in American and Canadian law schools were taught a particularly narrow vision of what constituted legal research. To the students, who eventually became lawyers, scholars, and judges, legal research meant consulting cases and statutes contained in print volumes. Some particularly ambitious researchers went further afield to look at law review articles and treatises, sources which themselves often constituted nothing more than extensive doctrinal analyses of the same cases and statutes. As Robert Berring notes, "Legal researchers learned that certain sets of books were authoritative and reliable. If used correctly, such sources provided 'the' information."