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via LOC webinars

Every genealogist has a happy place.

For some, it might be the reading room in the National Archives of the United States in Washington, D.C.

Or the special collections room of a particular library.

Or the back room of a local courthouse that holds all the old records.

Or, of course, all of the above.

For The Legal Genealogist, it should come as no surprise that one such happy place is the Law Library of Congress.

Its research facility is one of the best in the business, even if — sigh — it’s only providing access by appointment only thanks to this never-ending pandemic.1 Its blog — In Custodia Legis — is my favorite legal blog, bar none.2

And — wonder of wonders — it offers an online set of webinars we can all register for, for free, to learn more about the law.

LOC webinars

The Law Library website notes: “Through the Legal Research Institute, we offer a wide variety of legal research classes to members of the public on topics of American legal research, as well as foreign and comparative law. Some of our classes include our Orientation to Legal Research series, which covers research strategies and resources related to federal statutes, U.S. case law, and federal regulations.”3

In less peril-fraught days, these include in-person classes in general legal research and to provide an orientation to the library’s collections. These days, it’s all online — and webinars include overviews of the laws and legal resources of United States and around the world.

For example, the next live webinar providing a basic orientation to researching U.S. federal statutes (“information about how to find and use the U.S. Code, the U.S. Statutes at Large, and U.S. federal bills and resolutions”) is scheduled for Thursday, 3 February, at 11 a.m. Eastern time. Registration is required at the webinar registration page.

Can’t make that? Or need a different topic? Check out the library of recorded presentations on a wide array of U.S. and foreign law topics on the Past Presentations page. Here are just a few that genealogists can absolutely benefit from:

The Constitution Annotated on (15 July 2021): The Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress has provided expert, non-partisan analysis of legal and policy issues for Congress for over a century. Now, in an attempt to expand access to its resources, it has made one of its products available through – the Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (Constitution Annotated).

Federal Legislative History (13 Apr 2021): This webinar will discuss how to find debates, hearings, reports and other documents that may reflect legislative intent regarding a bill as it moves through Congress. In addition, this webinar will explain what kind of documents are considered “legislative history” resources, and then explored methods of identifying and locating these items.

U.S. Case Law Research (14 Jan 2021): This webinar provides an overview of U.S. case law research, including information about the U.S. federal court system, the publication of court opinions, methods for researching case law, and information about locating records and briefs.

Foreign Legal Gazettes Database (8 Dec 2020): Staff of the Law Library of Congress demonstrate how to use its new Foreign Legal Gazettes Database to explore the Law Library’s vast collection of foreign legal gazettes. The Law Library has been collecting foreign legal gazettes since the mid-19th century and is one of the last libraries to systematically acquire these titles from as many jurisdictions as possible.

Legal education, free, online, from the premier law library.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Learning the law,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 26 Jan 2022).


  1. See “About the Law Library: Reading Room,” Law Library of Congress ( : accessed 26 Jan 2022).
  2. For more info, see ibid., In Custodia Legis.
  3. Ibid., “Legal Research Institute.
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