The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600–1926

The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 is the world's most comprehensive full-text collection of Anglo-American trials. In addition to works pertaining to English-speaking jurisdictions such as the United States, Britain, Ireland and Canada, this fully searchable digital archive also contains English-language titles about trials in other jurisdictions such as France. Users will find:

  • Published trial transcripts
  • Popular printed accounts of sensational trials for murder, adultery and other scandalous crimes
  • Unofficially published accounts of trials
  • Briefs, arguments and other trial documents that were printed as separate publications
  • Official records of legislative proceedings, administrative proceedings and arbitrations (domestic and international)

Quick Facts

  • 9,424 titles
  • More than 1.8 million pages
  • 10,069 MARC records
Books encompassing multiple trials are included as well as books and pamphlets about a single trial. Books about general trial procedures, legal doctrines and advocacy methods are excluded, as are books about crimes not resulting in trials.

Students of legal, social, economic and literary history as well as researchers of government, psychology, critical theory, theater and performance, gender studies, race studies and journalism will find this collection invaluable for its coverage of such topics as:

  • Adultery (Queen Caroline 1821)
  • Commercial Law (Charles River Bridge 1837)
  • Conspiracy (The Assassination of President Lincoln and trial of the conspirators 1865)
  • Constitutional Law (Dred Scott 1857)
  • Crimes Against Persons (Samuel Arnold 1830)
  • Divorce and Domestic Relations (The Campbell Divorce 1887)
  • Dueling (William Congreve Alcock 1808)
  • Elections (George Rose)
  • Impeachment (Andrew Johnson 1868)
  • International Law (Chamizal Dispute 1911)
  • Land (Martha Bradstreet 1834)
  • Libel (Hugh Fitzpatrick 1810)
  • Military Offenses (James Barron 1820)
  • Murder (Harry Thaw 1908)
  • Sexuality (Samuel Andrews 1869)
  • Slavery (Lemmon Slave Case 1860)
  • Theft (Jonathan Wild 1725)
  • Torts (James Bailey 1843)
  • Treason (Aaron Burr 1807)
  • Wills (Girard Will Case 1844)

The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 encompasses the most celebrated and fascinating trials and crimes of the time period.

Famous subjects in British history include:

  • Charles I
  • Henry Sacheverell
  • Warren Hastings
  • Queen Caroline
  • Daniel O’Connell
  • Oscar Wilde

Famous subjects in American history include:

  • John Andre
  • Aaron Burr
  • John Brown
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Lizzie Borden
  • Sacco and Vanzetti
  • John Scopes
  • Dred Scott

Famous subjects in French history include:

  • Joan of Arc
  • Martin Guerre
  • Caron de Beaumarchais
  • Francois Babeuf
  • Alfred Dreyfus

Relive celebrated U.S. trials, including:

  • Court-martial of Major General Benedict Arnold
  • Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
  • United Mine Workers of America vs. the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company
  • Sacco and Vanzetti murder case

Discover details of historic British trials, such as:

  • Condemnation of priests for high treason in 1679
  • Trial of Rev. J. Smith for assisting in a slave rebellion
  • Brutal bean-hook murder of Ann Pullin by George King

Learn the sordid details of famous love trials:

  • The Cuckold’s Chronicle, with trials for adultery, incest and imbecility
  • Trial of Richard Vining Perry for abducting an heiress
  • Confessions of Dr. Pritchard to the murder of his wife

Only a few of the very largest libraries hold more than a small fraction, in any format, of the trial works contained in this digital collection. Even libraries with large print holdings will benefit from the power of full-text searching — enabling information never before available to be retrieved and correlated.

Significance: Trial accounts are the best source available for information about the lives of ordinary people not documented in chronicles that tend to focus on key figures of an era. The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 makes the literature of legal transcripts and sensational trial accounts available to social historians looking for an unfiltered narrative into the daily lives of everyday people. It offers insight into familial relations and gender conventions and is the best source available for nineteenth-century divorce and marriage.

Many of the trials covered in The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 are highly important legally, factually, historically or culturally.  Many trials are fascinating human stories or literary documents. Even seemingly unimportant cases often serve as illustrations of the evolution of law and procedure, both criminal and civil, or of political or social or economic or literary history. 

The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 also contains material offering constitutional value. Many trials engage important historical issues, including the Dred Scott case and the Scopes Monkey Trial.

The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 covers more than three centuries of history and contains important primary material for researchers studying critically important ears in British, British Empire and American history, including:

The world of Stuart England
The age of the English Civil War and the Restoration
Hanoverian Britain and the growth of British stability
The rise of British cities and the background of the Industrial Revolution
The colonial era
The emergence of the American republic
The expansion of the United States and the struggle over slavery
Victorian Britain, 19th century industrialization and the era of imperialism
The progressive era and World War I
The early years of the 1920s

With the full-text search capabilities on the facsimile pages, researchers can access the inner workings
of the justice system from notorious dramas to forgotten, but highly illuminating, personal pleadings.

Source:  The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 is the result of a partnership between Gale and Harvard and Yale universities’ law libraries — two of the foremost repositories of trials in the world. In addition, it includes outstanding trials from the Library of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

Structure:  In addition to the data-capture of the full text of all works within this collection, additional details associated with each work have been captured to facilitate searching and ensure accessibility of the works within this collection.  Search indexes have been developed for The Making of Modern Law: Trials, 1600-1926 utilizing this metadata, providing users with unequaled access to the content and providing details within the Full Citation created for each work. Metadata includes:

  • Author name or authoring body (institution, organization)
  • Title
  • Edition
  • Imprint, including place of publication, publisher, date of publication
Please note:

Our databases and digital archives are only available for institutions to trial and purchase. They are not available at this stage for individual subscriptions. For individuals seeking specific content within one of our resources, Gale, part of Cengage Learning does not have the rights to provide this service. If you wish to obtain a specific article, issue or book, please contact your library and enquire about online access to our products. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.