AustLII, the Australasian Legal Information Institute, has launched the Australasian Colonial Legal History Library, a free online collection of databases containing legal information from the colonial period of Australia and New Zealand.
A recent article explaining the project, Digitising and searching Australasian colonial legal history, has been published on the Social Science Research Network:
“The paper explains the construction, content and features of the first version of the Library, which as of July 2012 contains 12 databases including one case law database from each of the seven colonies (including New Zealand), some of which are ‘recovered’ cases from newspaper reports, the complete annual legislation to 1900 from three of the colonies, plus legal scholarship concerning the colonial era. These databases provide over 20,000 documents so far, and the Victorian Government Gazette 1851-1900 another 200,000. The Library also includes the LawCite citator, which allows the subsequent citation history of any colonial case to be tracked, including if cited by courts outside Australasia.”
“The medium term aim of this part of the ARC project (which extends to 1950 in its full scope) is to include all legislation, reported cases, and cases which can be ‘recovered’, from the inception of each colony to 1900. Scholarship (old and new) and key source materials are also being added, as budgets permit. We hope that the Library will be a leader in the creation of legal history resources from the colonial era.”
Here in Canada, the Early Canadian Online collection (by subscription) has been doing a good job of making available digitized materials from Canada’s pre-Confederation past and from the first decades of the post-1867 period. Its offerings include a large selection of Early Official Publications, a category covering government acts, bills, committee reports, court rules, debates, journals, ordinances, a selection of official publications from France and Great Britain, sessional papers, regulations, royal commission reports, and treaties.