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Finding Statutes, Constitutions, and Codes: Constitutions

Starting a legal research project does not have to be a difficult task. Consult this LibGuide to point you to the right resources for finding the state and federal constitutions, statutes, and codes that you need.

The US Constitution

The New York Constitution

New York State Capitol 1866

State Constitutions

If you're looking for a State Constitution, you can often find links to the text online, for free, at the State's official website.  

The Cornell Legal Information Institute (LII) has a list of links for the laws of all fifty states.

Click on the link to the State that you are researching, and it will take you to the State page.

The State page should include a direct link to a free viewing of the text of the State's Constitution.

You can view the list here.

Constitutions of the World

The U.S. Constitution

The United States Constitution was created on September 17, 1787.  You can find the text online at:

  • The Charters of Freedom:  Operated by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, this website is where you can view the U.S. Constitution and also read a transcript of it.  You can also view and read the transcript of the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
  • The Constitution Annotated: Officially known as the Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation and available for free from Congress.gov - operated by the Library of Congress - this resource provides the text of the U.S. Constitution together with legal analysis and constitutional interpretation. It is an invaluable resource when doing research into federal constitutional law.
  • Lexis Advance:  Type USCS - "Constitution of the United States" into the main search box.  Before you hit the search button, a prompt should appear, with a link to the Table of Contents to the document.  You can then view each section using the drop down arrows.
  • Westlaw Next: In the main search box, begin typing United States Constitution.  A prompt should appear for the full title.  Click on the prompt, and you will be taken to the document.  You can click on each individual part to read the text, or search within the U.S. Constitution using the main search box at the top of the page.

The New York Constitution

The first New York State Constitution was adopted on April 20, 1777. Since then, four subsequent Constitutions were adopted; the last in 1938 (which has been amended since then, but not replaced.)  You can find the text on line at:

  • Historical Society of the New York Courts: View, for free, the first New York Constitution (in its original form and a transcript of its text), and read the text of the second Constitution (1821), the third Constitution (1846), the fourth Constitution (1894), and the current Constitution (1938).  You can also read the text of the New York Bill of Rights, passed in 1787.
  • Lexis Advance:  Type NY - New York Constitution into the main search box.  Before you hit the search button, a prompt should appear, with a link to the Table of Contents to the document.  You can then view each section using the drop down arrows.
  • Westlaw Next: In the main search box, begin typing New York Constitution.  A prompt should appear for the full title.  Click on the prompt, and you will be taken to the document.  You can click on each individual part to read the text, or search within the N.Y. Constitution using the main search box at the top of the page.

The Constitutional History of New York

This highly valuable resource, first published in 1906, is a five volume treatise on New York State Constitutional History, authored by Charles Z. Lincoln. Within the five volumes, you will find the original text of each of the five adopted Constitutions, as well as other key documents and research resources for New York's Constitutional history. You can access this resource from a number of different resources:

Print copy:            

KFN5681 .L56 1994 on the second floor of the library (print version)

KFN5681 .L5 1906 downstairs on the concourse (microform)

 

Digital copy: (You must be logged into a TLC Web account to access these databases.)  

HeinOnline in its original print as a PDF      

The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises 1800-1926 in its original print as a PDF 

Constitutions of the World

The T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond offers the Constitution Finder, which allows you to locate and read the text of Constitutions from countries around the world.  The landing page allows you to view the original U.S. Constitution, in several different languages, hereTo view foreign constitutions from around the world, after arriving at the database, click on "Reset All Filters." Click on the appropriate check box to the left if you are interested in a particular country's constitution. To view U.S. State Constitutions, after landing on the home page, uncheck the box to the left marked "National," and links to all available State Constitutions will be viewable.