The mission of The Constitutional Sources Project is to increase understanding, facilitate research, and encourage discussion of the U.S. Constitution by connecting individuals — including students, teachers, lawyers and judges — with the documentary history of its creation, ratification, and amendment.
An Online Library of Constitutional History
The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) is revolutionizing the way people interact with history by democratizing access to source materials of the U.S. Constitution—letters, journals, newspapers, articles, speeches, and other first-hand records—so that any citizen can research and learn from the document’s rich intellectual history.
The countless letters, speeches and journals of the Framers and later Amenders of the Constitution are housed in hundreds of libraries and archives, as well as in private collections, throughout the United States and Europe. These documents together make the “best” history of our Constitution and its amendments over time. Yet many of these documents are virtually inaccessible to most of us, whether a fourth grader or a Supreme Court Justice. Even diligent researchers cannot gain access to all of them. As a result, far too many Americans lack an understanding of the ideas that influenced the Framers, many of which still lie at the root of current conversations and debates concerning our government and laws.
To address this lack of access, ConSource is building the preeminent online resource for constitutional research and education. Continually expanding in scope, it provides free public access to what is fast becoming the world’s most comprehensive online library of source documents related to the U.S. Constitution.
But ConSource is not stopping there. It is not enough to merely provide access to source documents. It is also necessary to provide the right tools to navigate the pages of history. To this end, the ConSource library includes a vibrant and growing cross-reference database, known as our Constitutional Index that allows users to explore historical documents related to each provision of the United States Constitution, Bill of Rights and subsequent amendments.
ConSource also creates research reports and educational resources to meet the specific needs of scholars and authors, legal practitioners and government officials, educators and students, journalists and the general public.
By connecting individuals to and facilitating discussion around the diverse ideas and documents that established the United States and have informed our progress, ConSource ensures that future generations will understand the principles of liberty espoused by the Declaration of Independence and enabled by the Constitution and its Amendments.
Current ConSource Collections
- The Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Amendments 11 – 27
- Precursors to the Constitution (including the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and Mayflower Compact, Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights)
- Colonial charters and state constitutions before 1787
- The Federalist Papers
- Anti-Federalist and Pro-Federalist Papers
- Constitutional Convention Records, including James Madison’s Notes of the Constitutional Convention and other records of the proceedings in Convention
- Select correspondences between delegates to the Constitutional Convention
- Selections from 10 state ratifying conventions
- The legislative history of the Bill of Rights
- 55 influential political sermons
- Correspondence and papers of George Mason
Planned ConSource Collections
- Documentary History of Colonial Charters & Early State Constitutions
- Select Correspondence & papers of James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Wilson, Oliver Ellsworth, Elbridge Gerry, Rufus King, John Lansing, Edmund Randolph and George Wythe
- Additional materials from state ratifying conventions
- Early Commentaries on the U.S. Constitution
- Early Congressional Records
- Women & the Constitution Collection (a collection that will bring to the fore the work of our nation's Founding mothers and their intellectual progeny)
- Reconstruction-era Materials
Selected Educational and Legal Programs
- PrimarySource – Education team members develop educational materials – like our popular “U.S. Constitution for Kids” – and work one-on-one with civic education organizations and educators to integrate primary source materials in to existing and planned classroom lesson plans and materials.
- Virtual Supreme Court Competition – partnership with The Harlan Institute – The competition offers teams of two high school students the opportunity to research contemporary constitutional law issues, use primary source documents in constructing a legal argument, write persuasive appellate briefs, argue against other students through Google Video chats, and try to persuade a panel of esteemed attorneys during oral argument that their side is correct. You can register your students for the competition here.
- Constitution Crash Course – half or full day crash course exploring the text, structure and history of the U.S. Constitution.
- SCOTUSource – research opportunity for law students and attorneys interested in a deep exploration of the origins and history of contemporary constitutional issues. Research reports will be provided as a free educational resource to members of the legal community, the press, and the public.
- Annual Capitol City Constitution Day Celebration
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our planned collections or legal and educational programs.
You can also support our work by donating today.
Proofreading ConSource Documents
To help us in the editing process, when you browse ConSource resources, use the Flag or Suggest button if you see any of the following:
- content that's inappropriate or unrelated to constitutional history
- missing metadata (author, recipient, manuscript location information, etc. that should appear in the right column)
- a passage that ought to be cross-referenced to a constitutional clause, topic, or another document
- a passage for which you have an idea of a useful explanatory footnote
- need for proofreading (note that many spelling errors are from the original text)
- other errors
Documents with many errors may be the result of automatic conversion from a scan. Mark such documents as in-need of more thorough proofreading.
Volunteer and Research Opportunities
- Legal Fellowships for law and graduate students
- Research fellowships related to particular document collections and select constitutional topics for undergraduate and graduate students
- Civic Education Fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students
- Business Development Internships for undergraduate and graduate students
To learn more about these volunteer internships and fellowships, as well as other volunteer opportunities, please email ConSource National Volunteer and Internship Coordinator, Megan Greenwood.
- Richard B. Bernstein, Research Director
ConSource Colonial Charter & Early State Constitution Project
- Ray Raphael, Lead Curriculum Developer
ConSource Choosing to Make a Nation Curriculum Project
- David Marble, Web Developer
- Megan Greenwood, National Volunteer and Internship Coordinator
Board of Directors
- Randall Guynn, Partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell
- Dr. John Kaminski, Editor, Documentary History of the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution
- Michael C. Maibach, Vice President, Global Government Affairs, Intel Corporation (1983-2001)
- Dr. Maeva Marcus, Director, Institute for Constitutional History
- Rayman Solomon, University Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus, Rutgers Law School
- Steven Steinbach, History Department Chair, Sidwell Friends School
Academic Advisory Board
- Dr. Rosemarie Zagarri, University Professor, Department of History, George Mason University
- Dr. Michael Ryan, Vice President and Director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, New-York Historical Society
- Sara Martin, Editor-in-Chief, The Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society
- Jennifer Stertzer, Senior Editor, The Washington Papers, and Director, Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia
- Dr. Carol Berkin, Professor Emerita, Baruch College, The City University of New York
- Robert F. Williams, Director, Center for State Constitutional Studies, Rutgers Law School
- Tomiko Brown-Nagin, Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law and Co-Director, Program in Law and History, Harvard Law School
National Advisory Board
- Akhil Amar, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale College and Yale Law School
- Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law, Yale Law School
- Honorable Michael McConnell, Director, Stanford Constitutional Law Center
- Dr. Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Professor of Politics, Princeton University
- Randy Barnett, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory, Georgetown University Law Center
- Honorable Don Willett, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- Honorable Edwin Meese III, Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, Institute for Constitutional Government
- Bruce C. Bennett, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
- Maria Marable-Bunch, Director, Education and Public Programs, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
- Kerry Sautner, Vice President of Visitor Experience and Education, The National Constitution Center
Legal Advisory Board
- Carl Cecere, Partner, Hankinson LLP
- Ashley C. Parrish, Partner, King & Spalding
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