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Print Sources for Historical Constitutions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2019


This paper examines the print sources for English language texts of historical constitutions, both national and subnational. Some of these sources are still reasonably current at the time of writing, but they will be examined here because they will in due course become part of historical collections.

Copyright © 2006 by the International Association of Law Libraries 

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1 For a useful examination of non-English language sources for early European Constitutions, see Bertram Hill, “The Constitutions of Continental Europe 1789–1813” (1936) 8 Journal of Modern History 82. Among the more notable sources are: Francois Rudolphe Dareste, Les Constitutions Modernes (Paris: Challamel Aine, 1883; 2nd ed 1891; 3rd ed 1913; 4th ed 1928); Karl H L Pölitz, Die Europäischen Verfassungen seit dem Jahre 1789 bis auf die neueste Zeit (2nd ed, Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1832, 1847; repr Hildesheim: Olms, 1999).Google Scholar

2 There are also other fundamental laws such as the Dutch Charter of the Kingdom, which has a higher status than the national constitution. See Art 5(2), Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (29 October 1954), Staatsblad 503. Despite its fundamental importance, it is not easy to find an up to date English translation of the Charter.Google Scholar

3 A superb example is the translation of the Lebanese Constitution appearing in (1997) 12 Arab Law Quarterly 224.Google Scholar

4 Eg Charles E Martin and William H George, Representative Modern Constitutions; France, Switzerland, Czecho-Slovakia, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia (Los Angeles: Times-Mirror Press, 1923); B Shiva Rao, Select Constitutions of the World (Myalpore: Madras Law Journal, 1934); Durga Das Basu, Select Constitutions of the World (4th ed, New Delhi: Wadhwa Nagpur, 2003); Gokulesh Sharma, World Constitutions (New Delhi: Deep and Deep, 2005).Google Scholar

5 Walter Fairleigh Dodd, Modern Constitutions: A Collection of Fundamental Laws of Twenty-Two of the Most Important Countries of the World, with Historical and Bibliographical Notes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1909; repr Buffalo, NY: William S Hein, 2003).Google Scholar

6 Another early source is George A Glynn, Foreign Constitutions (Albany, NY: Argus Co, 1894) (Convention Manual of the Sixth New York State Constitutional Convention, 1894, Part II, Vol III).Google Scholar

7 Herbert F Wright (ed), The Constitutions of the States at War 1914–1918 (Washington: GPO, 1919), repr in Vol 18, The Inquiry Handbooks (Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 1974).Google Scholar

8 The amendments are listed in Horst Dippel (ed), Index of European Constitutions 1850 to 2003 (München: K G Saur, 2005), 115.Google Scholar

9 Great Britain, Foreign Office, The Constitutions of All Countries. Vol 1: The British Empire (London: HMSO, 1938).Google Scholar

10 Amos J Peaslee (ed), Constitutions of Nations (Concord: Rumford Press, 1950); 2nd ed (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1956); 3rd ed by Dorothy Peaslee Xydis (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1965–1970); 4th ed by Dorothy Peaslee Xydis (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1985).Google Scholar

11 Albert P Blaustein and Jay A Sigler (eds), Constitutions That Made History (New York: Paragon House, 1988).Google Scholar

12 Horst Dippel, “Constitutions of the World 1776 to the Present: Presentation of Two Publication Projects” (2003) 4 Historia Constitutional, Scholar

13 Horst Dippel (ed), Constitutions of the Worldfrom the Late 18th Century to the Middle of the 19th Century (München: K G Saur, 2005-).Google Scholar

14 Horst Dippel (ed), Constitutions of the World 1850 to the Present (München: K G Saur, 2002-).Google Scholar

15 Gisbert H Flanz (ed), Constitutions of the Countries of the World (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1971-).Google Scholar

16 Eg Czech Republic and Georgia.Google Scholar

17 Eg Federal Constitutional Laws: Implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (3 July 1973), Bundesgesetzblatt (BGBl) 390/1973; Guaranteeing the Independence of Broadcasting (10 July 1974), BGBl 396/1974; Environmental Protection (27 November 1984), BGBl 491/1984; For a Nuclear Free Austria (1 July 1999), BGBl I 149/1999.Google Scholar

18 Eg Federal Constitutional Laws: Constitutional Court (21 July 1994); Judicial System (31 December 1996); Government of the Russian Federation (17 December 1997); State of Emergency (30 May 2001); Martial Law (30 January 2002).Google Scholar

19 M V Pylee (ed), Constitutions of the World (2nd ed, Delhi: Universal Law Publishing, 2003).Google Scholar

20 p 1. Albania's 1991 constitution was replaced by a new one in 1998.Google Scholar

21 Sri Lanka, draft of 27 March 1997 (p 1514). The 1978 Constitution remains in force.Google Scholar

22 For example, the French Constitution appears to be current only to 18 June 1976 (p 415).Google Scholar

23 P C Sinha, Encyclopaedia of World Constitutions (New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2006).Google Scholar

24 For example, the 2004 Constitution of Afghanistan is included, as are the most recent amendments to several of the Constitutions. See eg Vol 9, p 2511 (Afghanistan); Vol 9, p 2561 (China, 14 March 2004); Vol 2, p 367 (Indonesia, 17 August 2002); Vol 11, p 3229 (Switzerland, 8 February 2004).Google Scholar

25 The bills of rights of the US and Canadian Constitutions have been omitted: Vol 3, p 643 (US); Vol 2, p 309 (Canada). The Constitution of Taiwan does not include the Additional Articles which contain the amendments: Vol 9, p 2609.Google Scholar

26 Eg India (omits Articles 152-395 and the 12 Schedules: Vol 1, p 260); Egypt (omits Articles 127-211: Vol 10, p 3197); Bangladesh (omits Arts 94-133: Vol 2, p 625); Mexico (omits Arts 123-136 and transitory provisions: Vol 7, p 2151).Google Scholar

27 The text of the Sri Lankan ‘Constitution’ is an August 2000 draft, not the 1978 Constitution that is currently in force: Vol 6, p 1591. The South Korean Constitution is printed twice: Vol 10, p 3093; Vol 11, p 3401.Google Scholar

28 Great Britain, Foreign Office, 1812–1977.Google Scholar

29 Some constitutions appeared in other languages.Google Scholar

30 United Nations, 1946-.Google Scholar

31 International Parliamentary Union, 1948-.Google Scholar

32 Martinus Nijhoff, 1975–1991.Google Scholar

33 International Labour Office, Constitutional Provisions Concerning Social and Economic Policy (Montreal: ILO, 1944).Google Scholar

34 Arthur Percival Newton, Federal and Unified Constitutions (London: Longmans Green, 1923).Google Scholar

35 Howard Lee McBain and Lindsay Rogers, The New Constitutions of Europe (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co, 1922).Google Scholar

36 p 429. This Constitution also appeared in the League of Nations Official Journal, December 1930, p 1794.Google Scholar

37 p 217. This Constitution also appeared in 121 British and Foreign State Papers 1107.Google Scholar

38 Constitutional Law concerning the Transition to the Constitution of the Federal State (1 October 1920), Bundesgesetzblatt 2/1920 (p 292).Google Scholar

39 Irish Free State Constitutional Commission, Select Constitutions of the World (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1922).Google Scholar

40 Malbone W Graham and Robert C Binkley, New Governments of Central Europe (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1924); Malbone W Graham, New Governments of Eastern Europe (New York: Henry Holt, 1927; repr New York: Kraus, 1969).Google Scholar

41 Milton H Andrew, Twelve Leading Constitutions (Compton, Calif: American University Series, 1931), 157–176.Google Scholar

42 pp 379–384.Google Scholar

43 William Emmanuel Rappard et al, Source Book of European Governments: Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, the Soviet Union and England (New York: Van Nostrand, 1937), IV-14 ff (Germany), III-7 ff (Italy).Google Scholar

44 Eg Peter Raina (ed), The Constitutions of New Democracies in Europe (np: Merlin, 1995); International Institute for Democracy, Rebirth of Democracy: 12 Constitutions of Central and Eastern Europe 2nd ed (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 1996); Florence Benoît-Röhmer, Transition to Democracy: Constitutions of the New Independent States and Mongolia (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 1997); William E Butler (ed), Constitutional Foundations of the CIS Countries (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1999).Google Scholar

45 Rett L Ludwikowski, Constitution-making in the Region of Former Soviet Dominance (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996).Google Scholar

46 (Boxtel, Netherlands: Global Law Association, 1996–1999).Google Scholar

47 Council of Europe, Constitutions of Europe (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2004).Google Scholar

48 However, the text of the Greek Constitution does not incorporate the extensive amendments of 6 April 2001: Vol 1, p 823.Google Scholar

49 Shortly before publication of this book the provisions of the Romanian Constitution were renumbered (following the Amendment of 29 October 2003). The book includes the former numbering sequence.Google Scholar

50 pp 198–214.Google Scholar

51 (9 January 1991), p 555.Google Scholar

52 Horst Dippel (ed), Index of European Constitutions 1850 to 2003 (München: K G Saur, 2005).Google Scholar

53 See supra n Error! Bookmark not defined.; Croatia: Constitutional Law on Temporary Inability of the President of the Republic to Perform his Duties (24 November 1999); Constitutional Law on Human Rights and Freedoms and Rights of Ethnic and National Communities or Minorities (4 December 1991); Constitutional Act on Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal (19 April 1996); Constitutional Law on the Rights of National Minorities (13 December 2002).Google Scholar

54 Charter of Human and Minority Rights and Civil Liberties (28 February 2003) (Serbia-Montenegro) (continued in force in independent Serbia); Constitutional Law on the Rights and Obligations of a Citizen and a Person (10 December 1991) (Latvia) (in force 1991–1998).Google Scholar

55 Constitutions of Asian Countries (Bombay: Tripathi, 1968).Google Scholar

56 pp 71, 534, 882, 1127.Google Scholar

57 p 132.Google Scholar

58 See Linda Chao and Ramon H Myers, The First Chinese Democracy: Political Life in the Republic of China on Taiwan (Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 48–50.Google Scholar

59 Jose Ignacio Rodriguez, American Constitutions: A Compilation of the Political Constitutions of the Independent Nations of the New World, with short historical notes and various appendixes (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1906–1907).Google Scholar

60 Russell H Fitzgibbon (ed), The Constitutions of the Americas (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948).Google Scholar

61 p 819.Google Scholar

62 Gerald E Fitzgerald (ed), The Constitutions of Latin America (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1968).Google Scholar

63 Constitutions of African States (New Delhi: Asian African Legal Consultative Committee / New York: Oceana, 1972).Google Scholar

64 Vol 2, pp 1274–1308 (Nigeria), 1686–1690 (Uganda).Google Scholar

65 Helen Miller Davis, Constitutions, Electoral Laws and Treaties of States in the Near and the Middle East 2nd ed (Durham: Duke University Press, 1953). See also Ramesh Chandra Ghosh, Constitutional Documents of the Major Islamic States (Lahore: M Ashraf, 1947).Google Scholar

66 Abid A Al-Marayati, Middle Eastern Constitutions and Electoral Laws (New York: Frederick A Praeger, 1968).Google Scholar

67 Constitutions of Asian Countries (Bombay: Tripathi, 1968) (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Yemen).Google Scholar

68 Don Paterson (ed), Selected Constitutions of the South Pacific (Suva: Institute of Justice and Applied Legal Studies, University of the South Pacific, Suva, 2000).Google Scholar

69 Republic of Fiji v Prasad [2001] 2 LRC 743.Google Scholar

70 Pacific Constitutions (Suva: University of the South Pacific, 1983; 2nd ed, Suva: University of the South Pacific Institute of Social and Administrative Studies, Institute of Pacific Studies, School of Social and Economic Development, 1991).Google Scholar

71 Jan F Triska, Constitutions of the Communist Party States (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1968).Google Scholar

72 However, there are lengthy essays about the Cuban Constitution: pp 256 ff.Google Scholar

73 William B Simons, The Constitutions of the Communist World (Alphen aan den Rijn: Sijthoff & Noordhoff, 1980).Google Scholar

74 pp 581–624.Google Scholar

75 A R Hasse, “List of Books and Some Articles in Periodicals in the New York Public Library, Relating to Political Rights, Constitutions and Constitutional Law” (1904) 8 Bulletin of the New York Public Library 52.Google Scholar

76 Bureau of the American Republics, 1893–1902.Google Scholar

77 Arnold Verduin (ed), Manual of Spanish Constitutions, 1808–1931 (Ypsilanti, Mich: University Lithoprinters, 1941).Google Scholar

78 1st ed, Vol 3, p 77 ff; 3rd ed, Vol 3, p 810.Google Scholar

79 William Marion Gibson, The Constitutions of Colombia (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1948).Google Scholar

80 Frank Maloy Anderson, The Constitutions and Other Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France 1789–1907 (2nd ed, Minneapolis: H W Wilson, 1908; repr New York: Russell and Russell, 1967).Google Scholar

81 Henry C Lockwood, Constitutional History of France (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1897; repr Holmes Beach, Fla: Gaunt, 2003).Google Scholar

82 Elmar M Hucko (ed), The Democratic Tradition: Four German Constitutions (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1987).Google Scholar

83 Rufus B Rodriguez, Constitutionalism in the Philippines: with complete texts of the 1987 Constitution and other previous organic acts and Constitutions (Manila: Rex Book Store, 1997).Google Scholar

84 (7 September 1943), p 236.Google Scholar

85 (25 March 1986), p 340.Google Scholar

86 Aryeh L Unger, Constitutional Development in the USSR: A Guide to the Soviet Constitutions (London: Methuen, 1981).Google Scholar

87 Some of those amendments are included in the version of the 1977 Constitution published in (1990) 16 Review of Socialist Law 167.Google Scholar

88 Pan Wei-Tung, The Chinese Constitution: A Study of Forty Years of Constitution-making in China (Washington: Institute of Chinese Culture, 1945), 145 ff; William L Tung, The Political Institutions of Modern China (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968), 318 ff. Subsequent constitutions were adopted in 1975, 1978 and 1982.Google Scholar

89 Raoul M Jennar, The Cambodian Constitutions, 1953–1993 (Bangkok: White Lotus, 1995).Google Scholar

90 Samuel O Gyandoh Jr and J Griffiths, A Sourcebook of the Constitutional Law of Ghana (Legon: Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, 1972).Google Scholar

91 P Neupane (ed and trans), The Constitution & Constitutions of Nepal (Kathmandu: Ratna Pustak Bhandar, 1969).Google Scholar

92 Thak Chaloemtiarana (ed), Thai Politics: 1932–1957 (Bangkok: Social Science Association of Thailand, 1978), 96, 504, 524, 822, 858.Google Scholar

93 Albert P Blaustein, Jay Sigler, Benjamin R Beede, Wayne E Olson (eds), Independence Documents of the World(Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1977). Some independence documents also appear in R C Winter, Blueprints for Independence: The New States and their Constituting Instruments (Amsterdam: Djambatan, 1961).Google Scholar

94 Eg Charles F Furtado Jr and Andrea Chandler (eds), Perestroika in the Soviet Republics: Documents on the National Question (Boulder, Col: Westview Press, 1992); Snezana Trifunovska, Yugoslavia Through Documents: From its Creation to its Dissolution (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1994); William E Butler (ed), Constitutional Foundations of the CIS Countries (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 1999).Google Scholar

95 Gisbert H Flanz (ed), Constitutions of Dependencies and Territories (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1975-).Google Scholar

96 United Nations, 1946-.Google Scholar

97 Rappard included the former Constitution of Berne (1893): p 1–55.Google Scholar

98 Edwin H Zeydel (ed), Constitutions of the German Empire and German States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1919), repr in Vol 18, The Inquiry Handbooks (Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 1974).Google Scholar

99 The Prussian Constitution of 1920 also appears in McBain: p 217.Google Scholar

100 Constitutions of the German Laender (Berlin: Civil Administration Division, Office of Military Government (US), 1947). Several Land Constitutions are also contained in Harold O Lewis, New Constitutions in Occupied Germany (Washington: Foundation for Foreign Affairs, 1948).Google Scholar

101 A translation of the Constitution of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (1993) appears in Christian Starck, The Constitutions of the New German Länder and their Origin: A Comparative Analysis (Johannesburg: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 1995), 39–54.Google Scholar

102 Constitutions of the States of Malaysia (2nd ed, Kuala Lumpur: International Law Book Services, 1998).Google Scholar

103 Benjamin Perley Poore, The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Organic Laws of the United States (2nd ed, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1878; repr 2001 by Lawbook Exchange, 2001).Google Scholar

104 Francis Newton Thorpe, The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States, Territories, and Colonies Now or Heretofore Forming the United States of America (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909; repr Buffalo, NY: William S Hein, 1993).Google Scholar

105 Poore: 44th Cong, 2d Sess, Sen Mise Doc, Serial Nos 1730–1731; Thorpe: 59th Cong, 2d Sess, House Doc 357, Serial Nos 5910 to 5914-3. Thorpe is also available in the Legal Classics Library on Hein Online.Google Scholar

106 Eg Charles Kettleborough (ed), The State Constitutions and the Federal Constitution and Organic Laws of the Territories and Other Colonial Dependencies of the United States of America (Indianapolis: B F Bowen, 1918); Constitutions of the States and United States (New York: New York State Constitutional Convention Committee, 1938; Vol 3 of the Convention Reports); William F Swindler (ed), Sources and Documents of United States Constitutions (Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1973–1979; Second series, edited by William F Swindler and D Musch, 1982–1986).Google Scholar

107 F J M Feldbrugge (ed), The Constitutions of the USSR and the Union Republics: Analysis, Texts, Reports (Alphen aan den Rijn, The Netherlands: Sijthoff and Noordhoff, 1979), 262–342.Google Scholar

108 Richard C Spencer, Topical Index to National Constitutions (Philadelphia: American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1942).Google Scholar

109 1st ed, Vol III, pp 550–591.Google Scholar

110 pp 626–644.Google Scholar

111 See Columbia University Legislative Drafting Research Fund, Index Digest of State Constitutions (Albany: New York State Constitutional Convention Commission, 1915; 2nd ed, New York: np, 1959).Google Scholar

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