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Tip of the Week: Locating Treaties in HeinOnline


treaty is an agreement between two or more nations. Sometimes also called accordschartersconventionspacts, or protocols, treaties can either be bilateral (between two countries) or multilateral (between three or more countries). Watch the video below or keep reading this guide to learn a few different methods for efficient treaty research in HeinOnline.

Treaties between the United States and Other Nations

HeinOnline offers a comprehensive collection of all United States treaties in its U.S. Treaties & Agreements Library. This valuable database includes every treaty to which the U.S. has been a party, whether currently in force, expired, or not-yet-officially published.

U.S. Treaty Index Tool

Quickly pull up any U.S. treaty within this database by searching various metadata fields, including keyword, treaty number, party, relevant date, short title, and more. For example, let’s look for the Treaty of Ghent (signed Christmas Eve, 1814) which formally ended the War of 1812.

Enter the U.S. Treaties & Agreements Library. You will immediately be directed to the U.S. Treaty Index tool. From here, you’ll see that you can search a variety of metadata.

Screenshot of U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library Search Tools in HeinOnline

If we knew the treaty number or citation, we could just easily enter it and bring up the document directly. Without that information, let’s enter what we do know into the search tool (keyword, country involved, and the signing date). Note: The signing date should be in the following format: YYYY-MM-DD.

Screenshot of Search Tools in the U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library

We receive one result in our search.

Screenshot of Search Results in U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library in HeinOnline

Treaties between Nations Other Than the United States

Perhaps we’d like to locate a treaty between nations other than the United States. If so, we’d want to navigate to the World Treaty Library.

This monumental database brings together works from various treaty sources to create the richest collection of world treaties ever available, spanning from 1648 to the present and identifying more than 180,000 treaty records.

Navigate to the World Treaty Library collection. Right on the landing page, we are once again greeted with a treaty search tool.

World Treaty Index Tool

Screenshot of World Treaty Index Tool in HeinOnline

This time, let’s say we’re interested in searching world treaties from a particular time period that address a specific subject.

We’ll enter a search that will locate treaties relating to the subject of “nuclear weapons” and signed between the end of World War II and the early 1990s.

Screenshot of World Treaty Library Search by Date

We receive 165 results from this search. We can take a look at some of the treaty summaries to see if we find them interesting.

Screenshot of results from World Treaty Library Search by Date

These summary pages provide all of the metadata surrounding the treaty, including the treaty’s legislative history.

Screenshot of Summary Pages including all of the metadata surrounding the treaty

League of Nations/United Nations Treaties

HeinOnline also contains a dedicated database archive of major UN legal publications, including UN treaties—the United Nations Law Collection.

Navigate to the database. Note that we could enter a United Nations Treaty series citation or a League of Nations Treaty Series citation using the tools on the landing page, or we could perform an Advanced Search.

Screenshot of Search Tools in UN Law Collection

United Nations Law Collection Advanced Search

Let’s try out the Advanced Search to look for a specific human rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this database, we can type in the title of the treaty and select the “Treaty Publications” document type.

Screenshot of United Nations Law Collection Advanced Search

We receive two results—the original treaty which entered into force in 1990, and the related optional protocol.

Screenshot of United Nations Law Collection Advanced Search Result

Treaties with Indigenous Americans

Lastly, perhaps we would like to search for one of the many treaties between the United States and indigenous tribes of the Americas. One place where we could locate these treaties is within a HeinOnline database called Indigenous Peoples of the Americas: History, Culture & Law.

This database, formerly known as the American Indian Law Collection, provides an expansive archive of materials related to indigenous American life and law, including the full text of 416 treaties.

Navigate to the collection and select the Indigenous Peoples Treaties tab.

Screenshot of Indigenous Peoples Treaties tab

From here, users will notice that they can either perform a search using the Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search tool, or they could browse treaties by Tribe or Date. When browsing, you will see that each treaty includes a handful of metadata points, including treaty number, tribe name, subject(s), and more.

Screenshot of metadata points, including treaty number, tribe name, subject(s), and more

Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search Tool

Entering a search into the Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search Tool works in much the same way as we’ve seen in the other databases so far. Let’s try entering a tribe name and subject, for example, and see what treaties we can find.

Screenshot of Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search Tool

We receive one result, in which we can see all of the associated metadata as well, including the list of U.S. and tribe signatories.

Screenshot of Indigenous Peoples Treaty Search Results

Check Out More Tips

We’re often highlighting tips and tricks on the HeinOnline Blog, ranging from basic concepts to advanced HeinOnline tactics. Check out these recent guides:

Check back with us soon for the next tip, or subscribe to the HeinOnline Blog to have these guides sent right to your inbox.

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