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Hein’s Double Birthday Year Begins! Kick It Off with Some History (and a Huge Giveaway)


The year 2020 marks two major anniversaries for the Hein Company—100 years of William S. Hein & Co., Inc. and 20 years of HeinOnline! 

We can’t wait to celebrate all year long with the customers who made these incredible achievements possible. To kick off the party (and ease some quarantine struggles), we’re giving away a MacBook Air to one lucky winner! Use Apple’s most popular laptop to work remotely, video chat with friends and family, or binge your favorite show. Here’s how you can enter to win*:

The winner of our birthday giveaway was Jennifer Wondracek of UNT Dallas College of Law!

Continue the celebration by joining us as we reflect on the growth of the Hein Company and HeinOnline.

A Century of Service to the Research Community

The Hein Company is rooted in a hundred-year-old legal publishing tradition that began in 1920 with entrepreneur Fred O. Dennis. Along with the help of his nephew, William S. Hein Sr., Dennis served U.S. law libraries by selling law books, law forms, out-of-print government documents, and other law-related reprints. After 27 years, William S. Hein Sr. began his own legal publishing venture—William S. Hein & Co., Inc.—with his wife, Ilene.

The company has since thrived by listening to libraries’ requests, first for out-of-print books and journals, then for used books and original publications, and later in the 20th century, for microform as a low-cost alternative for housing and preserving large print collections.

William S. Hein, Sr.
Pictured: William S. Hein, Sr.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the advent of the internet and rise in computer-assisted research presented a new challenge—meeting customer desires for electronic resources. Hein embarked on a mission to create a version of its material that saved shelf space, was easy to use, and made more efficient use of valuable research time, all while matching the authority of the print version. Digital imaging was ultimately the answer, allowing Hein to create near-perfect facsimiles of print publications that could then be distributed by CD-ROM. By the year 2000, Hein’s experience in preservation and digital imaging, combined with its title rights and close relationship with libraries, left the company uniquely poised to create an online image-based library. Thus, HeinOnline was born.

20 Years of Elevating the Online Research Experience

Containing 23 flagship law journals spanning 270,000 pages, HeinOnline launched in May of 2000, with New York University (NYU) as its first subscriber.

HeinOnline's Law Journal Library at Launch in May 2000

Explore the ways in which HeinOnline has grown with 20 of our most significant milestones over the years.

1. HeinOnline launches with the Law Journal Library. (2000)

Since its debut in May of 2000, the Law Journal Library has evolved from 25 law reviews to a multidisciplinary database of more than 2,800 journals, all indexed by Google Scholar and covering a myriad of subjects. Over the years, the database has further become a platform for scholarly impact analysis and author connection with HeinOnline’s introduction of author profile pages, author ranking through ScholarRank, and integration with ORCID.

2. The Federal Register is made available to all HeinOnline subscribers. (2002)

At its introduction in September of 2002, the Federal Register in HeinOnline covered the years 1970-1974. As time went on, we indexed the Federal Register to the section level, added a Citation Navigator, introduced linking to GPO-authenticated PDFs, and made the Code of Federal Regulations available as well. Today, HeinOnline’s Federal Register Library contains the entire Federal Register from inception (1936-present).

3. The U.S. Treaties & Agreements Library & U.S. Supreme Court Library are made available. (2003)

Since adding U.S. treaties in July of 2003, HeinOnline’s treaty coverage has become comprehensive, including those currently in-force, expired, or not-yet officially published. The U.S. Supreme Court Library now holds more than 900 titles and 1.4 million pages of full-text decisions, rulings, orders, case tables, and other proceedings, as well as unique features such as linking to Oyez, a complete and authoritative source for all available Supreme Court audio.

4. The Legal Classics Library is launched with 100 titles and 300,000 pages. (2005)

In the years following its introduction in 2005, full color PDFs were introduced to the Legal Classics Library and the George Wythe Collection was added. Today, the database contains more than 16,000 titles and 10 million pages, and continues to receive some of the largest updates with each monthly release.

5. The U.S. Federal Legislative History Library, U.S. Statutes at Large, and U.S. Attorney General & Department of Justice Collection are made available. (2006)

Since its launch in 2006, the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library has become the richest collection of legislative histories available with more than 2,500 titles. Our U.S. Statutes at Large now provides every law (public and private) ever enacted by Congress. Finally, U.S. Attorney General & Department of Justice Collection has undergone many improvements and was recently re-released as our must-have Criminal Justice & Criminology database with the addition of more than 2 million pages of additional content relating to these disciplines.

6. The Session Laws Library, New York Court of Appeals Records and Briefs Library, and English Reports (full reprint) are made available. (2007)

Thirteen years later, New York Court of Appeals Records and Briefs is comprehensive from inception. English Reports now contains more than 120,000 cases with multiple navigation tools. Finally, our Session Laws Library now covers all states from inception to current and includes a unique Session Laws Quick Locator tool.

7. The World Trials Library becomes available. (2007)

Since its debut in 2007, the World Trials Library has grown from many generous contributions to include nearly 5,000 titles. With trial transcripts, critical court documents, trial-related secondary resources, biographies, and hard-to-obtain historical content, the database has become the premier online trials resource.

8. The U.S. Congressional Documents Library and American Law Institute Library become available. (2007)

Following its introduction in 2007, HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents has grown to include the complete Congressional Record bound volume set (1873-present), as well as its three predecessor titles and the Congressional Record Dailies from 1980-present. The Daily to Bound Locator allows users to quickly find corresponding citations between the two publications.

Meanwhile, the American Law Institute Library now contains current and archival restatements and principles of the law, the model penal code, numerous ALI publications, and more.

9. Subject Compilations of State Laws is made available. At the same time, MyHein is launched! (2008)

Following its introduction in 2008, HeinOnline’s digital version of Cheryl Nyberg’s Subject Compilations of State Laws received AALL’s 2009 Best New Product Award. Since then, the database has become an essential resource for accessing more than 18,000 sources of 50-state surveys in a searchable digital format.

In the same month in 2008, we introduced MyHein, HeinOnline’s personal research management tool. Over the years, MyHein has been significantly enhanced, allowing users to create bookmarks, save search queries, and set up electronic table of contents (eTOC) alerts.

10. The U.S. Code and Israel Law Reports are both made available. (2008)

Since 2008, HeinOnline’s version of the United States Code has provided users with a single source for the entire archive, along with current U.S. Code content and an enhanced U.S. Code locator. Meanwhile, the Israel Law Reports database provides access to more than 220 cases in an online digital format, as well as the Israel Law Review from inception to current.

11. World Constitutions Illustrated is launched. (2010)

Named to Choice’s 2010 List of Outstanding Academic Titles after its launch, World Constitutions Illustrated has become a comprehensive resource for researching the constitutional and political development of every single country in the world. The database now includes the current constitution of every country, often in multiple languages, as well as substantial constitutional histories, books, and other related works.

12. Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals and American Indian Law Collection are made available. (2011)

In October 2011, HeinOnline introduced to its collection AALL’s Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) and a new database dedicated to the study of indigenous Americans—the American Indian Law Collection. Today, IFLP is the preeminent multilingual index to articles and book reviews appearing in over 600 legal journals published worldwide.

The American Indian Law Collection, meanwhile, has grown to include more than 418 Native American treaties and a unique Native American Treaty Search tool.

13. A new partnership is announced with Fastcase. At the same time, HeinOnline becomes discoverable through EBSCO Discovery Service. (2013)

July of 2013 brought federal and state case law to the platform following HeinOnline’s partnership with Fastcase, a leading next-generation legal research service. In the same month, HeinOnline partnered with EBSCO to make select HeinOnline resources discoverable through their service.

Since receiving AALL’s 2014 Best New Product Award, our Fastcase partnership has grown to include the full text of cases, case-to-case linking, negative treatment indicators, ScholarCheck integrations, and more.

14. The World Treaty Library is made available. (2014)

A year after partnering with Fastcase, HeinOnline introduced the World Treaty Library. Since that time, the database has become the richest collection of world treaties ever available, providing in-depth treaty indexing, cross-citation linking, and spanning from 1648 to the present.

15. HeinOnline’s Author Profile Pages make their debut. At the same time, ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals become available. (2015)

In January of 2015, HeinOnline introduced author profile pages to showcase and promote its authors’ scholarly work. In the same month, we partnered with the American Bar Association to include digitized ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals.

Numerous enhancements have been made to our author profiles over the years, including the incorporation of ScholarRank (a citation analysis tool to determine an author’s HeinOnline rank), author profile email alertsintegration with ORCID, an Explore This Author tool, and the ability for authors to edit their own profiles. HeinOnline’s efforts to provide accurate and insightful author data have since been recognized by U.S. News & World Report.

16. HeinOnline’s first free resource, Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law, becomes available. (2016)

To provide anyone with an interest in the subject easy access, HeinOnline made its Slavery in America and the World database free to all in October 2016. A comprehensive collection of essential legal materials on slavery, the database was named to RUSA’s annual list of Best Historical Materials in the same year.

17. Machine learning and natural language processing tools become available in the Law Journal Library. (2017)

The following year, HeinOnline introduced its first natural language processing and machine learning tools into the Law Journal Library, ABA Law Library Collection Periodicals, Bar Journals Library, and Kluwer Law International Journal Library. HeinOnline continues to develop other machine learning tools for future release.

18. HeinOnline begins digitizing the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. (2018)

In October 2018, HeinOnline released the first phase of its much-anticipated online U.S. Congressional Serial Set. HeinOnline continues to digitize this enormous historical resource with the goal of adding four million pages each year until the project is complete.

In the meantime, we’ve created Secrets of the Serial Set, a monthly blog series dedicated to revealing the historical gems within. Other recent updates include new citation lookup tools and an improved landing page for the user’s convenience.

19. Business and Legal Aspects of Sports and Entertainment is made available. (2019)

This past fall, HeinOnline released a new and exciting resource for researching two important areas of popular culture—Business and Legal Aspects of Sports and Entertainment. This never-before-seen digital compilation of sports and entertainment law resources enhanced by in-depth topic-coding and editorialization earned this new database the 2020 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award from AALL.

20. Hein acquires the Current Index to Legal Periodicals! (2020)

In a more recent milestone, we announced this spring that the Hein Company had acquired the rights to University of Washington Gallagher Law Library’s Current Index to Legal Periodicals (CILP). This long-running publication has provided legal researchers timely topical access to more than 650 legal publications organized within 104 subject headings. We’re very excited to reinstate and improve upon this essential product!

The Hein Company and HeinOnline Today

A hundred years later, William S. Hein & Co., Inc. has become a highly respected publisher of original legal publications, a major reprinter of legal classics and out-of-print GPO documents, and the world’s largest distributor of legal periodicals.

Over the past few years, the company has expanded its services into academic, public, government, and corporate libraries, and is on its way to becoming one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary publishers.

HeinOnline building

Twenty years later, HeinOnline is a premier online research database that provides comprehensive coverage from inception of more than 2,800 multidisciplinary periodicals, essential government documents, international treaties and trials, case law, and much more throughout more than 183 million pages. Composed of image-based PDFs, the wealth of material allows libraries, governments, corporations, and other organizations to access authoritative, true-to-print digital material without the hassle or cost of using multiple research databases. What’s more, HeinOnline subscriptions consistently increase in value with the addition of new content, features, and tools and the platform has even recently become a vehicle for analyzing and measuring scholarly impact.

We are tremendously grateful to our customers for enabling our incredible growth over the past century, and particularly the past 20 years. We can’t wait to see what the future will bring!

For a more detailed history of William S. Hein & Co., Inc. and HeinOnline, check out this recent article published in the special 50th anniversary edition of the Australian Law Librarian.

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