CLIR grant for Early State Records

It is with great excitement that we share the news that the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has officially announced its grant award to LLMC (see ).  This grant, combined with the patronage of the institutions listed here, concludes the fund-raising needed to digitize and enhance nearly 2,000 microfilm reels of Early State Records! 


The Early State Record Microfilm Collection is a massive historic collection of early American law and governance-related documents. These texts, a unique compendium of primary source material, date from early British, Spanish and French colonial times through the American Civil War. They were microfilmed in the 1940s by staff of the Library of Congress. Field work meant expeditions to each of the then 48 states and more than 60,000 miles of travel on pre-interstate roads. The nine-year project, with a break of several years during WW II, involved the cooperation of hundreds of libraries and state and local agencies. It eventually captured 2.5 million pages on approximately 30 miles of microfilm. The collection includes constitutions and records and debates of constitutional conventions; statutes; journals, minutes, proceedings and debates of the legislative bodies of the thirteen American colonies; administrative, executive, and court records; local, county, and city records; contemporaneous records of the American Indian nations; as well as newspapers for British colonial America.  Digitizing the Records promises to transform the study of American history and is essential to scholars and the general public.


As Librarian of Congress Luther H. Evans wrote in the foreword to A Guide to the Microfilm Collection of Early State Records (1950), the project was “a milestone in the democratic process of making the materials, recording the workings of a democratic society, available to all who would learn how we came to be what we are as a people.”  In the years since then, nothing has diminished the truth of this statement, and it is abundantly clear that this initiative will ensure the original goals of the project will be achieved more successfully than ever before.


Early State Records is one of LLMC’s most substantial initiatives, applying advanced digitization post-processing and valuable abstracts to these primary and secondary sources held in numerous state, federal and foreign libraries, historical societies, archives and legislatures.   As of February 2020, LLMC has already added 2,700 Early State Records titles to its LLMC Digital online service.  For additional information about Early States Records or LLMC, a non-profit cooperative of libraries dedicated to the twin goals of, making available and preserving legal titles and government documents, please see or send an email to