Federal Judicial Center Guide Wins Thomas Jefferson Award

By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 17, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you can’t get your fill of the law practicing before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps you would like to leave your office for a field trip to the federal archives.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) keeps most federal records at the NARA facilities in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland. (Also known as, in the Fourth Circuit’s back yard.)

If you're still hungry for juicy tidbits of judicial facts and history this President's Day weekend, the Federal Judicial Center has compiled a veritable smörgåsbord of free information in its Guide to Research in Federal Judicial History. And this is no second-rate free publication: It was recently awarded the Thomas Jefferson Prize from the Society for History in the Federal Government.

The Guide describes the records of the federal courts, Congress, and the executive branch that are relevant to researching federal judicial history. Bruce Ragsdale, director of the Federal Judicial Center's Federal Judicial History Office said the group created the guide to direct researchers to the "wealth of largely untapped" records about the federal courts. "The guide will support judges and court staff in the development of publications and exhibits on the history of their courts, and will encourage scholars to incorporate the judiciary in histories of the federal government and the civic life of the nation."

The Guide can help researchers find and use records of the federal judiciary, Congressional and Executive records related to the judiciary, records related to the federal courthouses, and research collections. If you know you will soon be stuck scavenging for legislative intent in one of your appeals, the Guide to Research in Federal Judicial History, available on the Federal Judicial Center's website, could be helpful.

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