Research + Analysis

Unearthing the Early State Records Collection

In 1941 the Library of Congress and the University of North Carolina launched a compilation project named the State Records Project (also known as 'Early State Records'). Originally meant to include legislative records of U.S. colonies, states, and territories the project grew to include various types of records including executive materials, constitutional documents, court records, broadsides, and even news.


The complete set, which few libraries purchased in its entirety, encompassed 30 miles of film. Despite best efforts to index the collection and provide finding aids, the Early State Records collection was and still is difficult to access despite its apparent usefulness to researchers.


With the financial support of Patron Libraries, LLMC started digitizing the collection, cataloging individual titles, writing informative abstracts, and making these materials searchable. The first phase of the project covers the 15 Atlantic Coast states and Native American reels. This program will summarize what has been digitized thus far and highlight some of the more exciting materials we've uncovered during phase one. The program will also highlight how making these materials available may affect research on issues such as the Emoluments Clause and Second Amendment rights; expert panelists will also discuss how access to these materials may affect constitutional originalist thinking.



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Idea No. 289