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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Canadian Legal History in Google Books

Recently I have been getting alerts for Osgoode Society books added to Google Books. I have found Google books to be an invaluable resource in my research on nineteenth century municipal law, allowing me to find electronic copies of municipal manuals copied from the Stanford University library, for example. But I hadn't used it to check out more modern stuff, so I decided to give it a try today.

My first surprise: I typed in Canadian Legal History and got back "about 215,000" results. Most of these, are books that include the search phrase or parts thereof, including those which include citations to Osgoode Society books. Nice to know there are so many, of course.

Second surprise: as well as all the expected Osgoode Society and Law and Society titles, there were cases and materials type books going back to the 1970s. Now these aren't all searchable, sorry to say, even for their tables of contents, and in fact many of the more recent ones, including the Risk festschrift for instance, aren't searchable either.  But the ones that are could be very useful, I think.

For example, I searched in James Walker's "'Race,' Rights and the Law" for 'Backhouse,' and got nine hits. You could look in the index to the book (if you own it, as you should) but you wouldn't find any entry for Constance or her work. (No offense to the publisher, indices have to be selective, especially about footnotes.) But still, how wonderful to be able to think--hmm, I seem to remember a footnote in Walker about Backhouse that might be helpful, now I know I can find it. And without the hassle and time involved of finding the damn thing on my bookshelf (my partner seemed to think it was helpful to remove the dust jackets on at least half my books, and no, they aren't organized beyond this is a Canadian Legal History section,) and scouring the footnotes.

Third surprise: the "G." in "G. Blaine Baker" stands for George. And all these years I thought it was Gordon.

1 comment:

  1. Are there any plans to offer the Osgoode Society books in an ebook format? (either Google Books Epub or Amazon Kindle comes to mind)