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New HeinOnline Databases: Nominative Reports (English, Irish, and American)

Nearly Three Million Pages of Rare and Hard-to-Find Reports

June 13, 2024

June 2024. HeinOnline, a product of William S. Hein & Co., Inc., is pleased to announce the release of its newest databases, Nominative Reports (English, Irish, and American), which bring together, for the first time ever, the most comprehensive collection of rare nominative reports available online from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States. Together, these collections contain nearly three million pages of rare and hard-to-find reports.

With these databases, HeinOnline has created for researchers a modern link to legal history—contributing to the preservation of case law while adding current natural language and artificial intelligence tools to allow researchers to search and explore these documents like they’ve never been able to before. Travel back in time and understand the materials and resources that legal professionals had to reference and gain an understanding of how and why case decisions that helped to shape the course of legal history were made.

These newest databases will offered to all institutions and organizations both individually and as a package for added savings. For more information, visit https://home.heinonline.org/content/nominative-reports-english-irish-american/

Or, review our dedicated blog post: https://home.heinonline.org/blog/2024/06/new-databases-nominative-reports-english-irish-and-american/


About the Nominative Reports

Nominative reports are the reports that documented the decisions of the court until the establishment of a formalized method of court reporting. These reports, which emerged in 16th-century England, were initially published by studying lawyers who would take notes on arguments at the Inns of Court in London. However, there was no regulation of these reports, and therefore there was no consistency as to the organization, structure, or content. Sometimes, multiple differing reports would be produced from the same court case, or reports wouldn’t be published until years after the case was decided. Many barristers would publish their court notes as a way to make extra money. Nominative reports are called such because they are named after the reporter.

Many of these reports were previously only available in a handful of libraries around the world. Now, they’re available in HeinOnline’s full-text searchable platform, where researchers can access true-to-print digital reproductions of these reports anytime, anywhere, without worrying about having to locate, handle, or scan the fragile hard copies.

Database 1: English Nominative Reports

Until now, the English Reports was the go-to source for researching English case law from the Middle Ages to 1865. These reports were a consolidation of law reports on a variety of cases—often, multiple reports would be written on a single case, and multiple editions would be published of each of these reports. In the English Reports, one edition—frequently, a later edition—of each nominative was selected for inclusion.

However, HeinOnline’s English Nominatives brings together a far more comprehensive and complete compendium of English case law by identifying for the first time every edition of every printing of the nominatives that comprise the English Reports. HeinOnline’s collection of English Nominatives contains millions of pages, making it the most comprehensive collection of these reports available in a digital platform. However, the database is not yet complete—our editors will be continuing to locate and add to the collection until it contains every identified report, creating the first and only complete collection of English nominative reports.

HeinOnline’s collection of reports spans more than 250 reporters across a more than 300-year timespan, from 1585 to 1899. Among these reporters are those most acclaimed—Plowden, Coke, Dyer, etc.—as well as those lesser known. Additionally, it includes a variety of other materials that provide both historical and modern context, such as:

  • More than 250 other nominatives and law reports outside of those included in the English Reports
  • Editions of the nominative reports published in the United States and Ireland, which often contain notes or commentaries by authors in those countries
  • Year Books, which are volumes of court reports that preceded the nominatives and date back to 1220
  • Books, digests, and other related works, including indexes, law compilations, handbooks, and more
  • Legal newspapers, often containing much more timely reports of cases as compared to the nominatives, which frequently took years or decades to be printed
  • A collection of relevant scholarly articles
Chart View

To make it easier to view all of the reports identified in this collection, we’ve created a chart that allows searchers to view a comprehensive list of reports by each reporter. Citation abbreviations, series, and time periods are listed for further context.

Simply click on a reporter to view all of their work, or click on a title to view all of its editions:

screenshot of English Nominative Reporters chart browse by reporter

Database 2: Irish Nominative Reports

Most Irish court reports were published between 1766 and 1859. Unlike in England and America, Irish reporters were mainly only focused on one court at a time. Between 1866 and 1894, the Irish reports were published into two series: the Irish Reports, Common Law Series, and the Irish Reports, Equity Series. These reports were then merged into one publication following the Supreme Court of Judicature (Ireland) Act of 1877, which eliminated the separation between common law and equity. The reports became the Irish Reports in 1894 and have been publishing as such since.

HeinOnline’s collection of Irish Law Reports consists of nominatives covering cases dating pre-1894, as well as:

  • A subcollection of law reports, which are compilations of notes on cases
  • A subcollection of books, digests, and other related works, such as notes, periodicals, treatises, and more

Key titles within this collection include:

  • Irish Chancery Reports: These reports focus on cases heard in the Court of Chancery in Ireland, which dealt with equity and trust matters. The decisions of the Court of Chancery had a significant impact on property law and equitable remedies in Ireland.
  • Irish Common Law Reports: These reports helped establish precedents and principles within the Irish common law system and cover a wide range of topics, including criminal law, property law, contract law, and more. Reports cover cases from the Courts of the Queen’s Bench, the Court of Common Pleas, the Court of Exchequer, and the Court of Criminal Appeal
  • Irish Law Reports: Containing cases from the Courts of the Queen’s Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer of Pleas from 1839 to 1852, these cases shed light on social, political, and economic issues of the time and provide an enlightening overview of common law decisions
  • Irish Equity Reports: These reports, from the High Court of Chancery, the Rolls Court, and the Equity Exchequer, pertain to matters of equity and trust. Equity was a branch of law that developed alongside the common law system and focused on fairness, justice, and the application of principles in conscience

Database 3: American Nominative Reports

During America’s colonial days, its early court decisions relied upon the precedent set by England, the mother country. The first volume of American decisions was published after the American Revolution and closely followed the example set by English reporters.

Nominative reports were the standard for state and federal court reporting in the United States until the U.S. Supreme Court hired an official reporter in 1817, and official reporters were hired at the state and federal level over the following years.

Nominatives in this collection span from 1789 to 1907. Key reporters featured in this collection include:

  • John Cadwaladar
  • William Cranch
  • J. Dallas
  • Richard Peters
  • Benjamin C. Howard
  • John William Wallace
  • And many more
Chart View

This database includes the entire set of Federal Cases, a compilation of decisions from the United States circuit and district courts spanning from the nation’s first court cases in 1789 until the publication of the Federal Reporter in 1880, which was to become the repository of all U.S. federal court decisions.

These decisions, compiled by various reporters and compiled into a single set, are arranged alphabetically by case title and numbered consecutively from books one through 30. The Federal Cases include more than 20,000 cases, including all available lower federal case law. Also included is the Index to Books 1-30, with tables that cross-reference the citation of the original report to the federal case number assigned to each, allowing researchers to easily access each case.


Each database is available or can be bundled together for additional savings. Payment plans are available. Contact us for more details.

About HeinOnline & William S. Hein & Co., Inc.

HeinOnline is a product of William S. Hein & Co., Inc., a leading publishing company that has been serving the law library community for 100 years. HeinOnline is a premier online research database that provides comprehensive coverage from inception of more than 3,300 multidisciplinary periodicals, essential government documents, international treaties and trials, case law, and much more. Composed of image-based PDFs and available at an affordable price, the wealth of material allows academic institutions, government agencies, law firms, court systems, corporations, and other organizations access to authoritative, true-to-print digital material without the hassle or cost of using multiple research databases. Furthermore, subscriptions to HeinOnline consistently increase in value without added cost as HeinOnline adds daily, weekly, and monthly content while continuously incorporating new artificial intelligence tools for easier research. More information about HeinOnline and William S. Hein & Co., Inc. is available here: https://home.heinonline.org/.

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