May 19, 2022

New Online From the Law Library of Congress: Historical Supreme Court Cases in Page Image Format Now Publicly Available Online For First Time (Free)

From a Library of Congress Announcement:

More than 225 years of Supreme Court decisions acquired by the Library of Congress are now publicly available online – free to access in a page image format for the first time. The Library has made available more than 35,000 cases that were published in the printed bound editions of United States Reports (U.S. Reports).

United States Reports is a series of bound case reporters that are the official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court dating to the court’s first decision in 1791 and to earlier courts that preceded the Supreme Court in the colonial era.

The Library’s new online collection offers access to individual cases published in volumes 1-542 of the bound edition.

This collection of Supreme Court cases is fully searchable. Filters allow users to narrow their searches by date, name of the justice authoring the opinion, subject and by the main legal concepts at issue in each case. PDF versions of individual cases can be viewed and downloaded.

Landmark cases such as Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education and Miranda v. Arizona are all part of the collection, in addition to thousands of other cases that have an impact on the lives of U.S. citizens.


Early reports were compiled by private individuals who served as court reporters, a practice that continued until 1874 when publication was assumed by the court itself.  These older court reports, which had been cited by the name of the court reporter who compiled them, were reassigned volume numbers 1-90 in 1874 to produce the current, continuous numbering system of the U.S. Reports. The first volume and a substantial portion of the second volume of the U.S. Reports do not contain decisions of the Supreme Court, but instead include cases heard in various courts of Pennsylvania during the colonial period until 1791.


Example of a U.S. Reports Entry Page From

The digital versions of the U.S. Reports in the new collection were acquired by the Law Library of Congress through a purchase agreement with William S. Hein & Co. Inc.

More recent editions of the U.S. Reports from 1987 to the present are available online from the U.S. Supreme Court.

A Bit More From the Collection Info Page:

United States Reports is a series of bound case reporters that are the official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court. A citation to a United States Supreme Court decisions includes three elements that are needed to retrieve a case. For example, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). 467 indicates the volume in which the case is reported, U.S. indicates the abbreviation for U.S. Reports, 837 indicates the initial page number of the case, and 1984 indicates the year the case was decided. Early reports of U.S. Supreme Court decisions were named for the clerk who compiled them. U.S. Reports includes the content from these nominative reporters. You can translate a citation from a nominative reporter to a volume of the U.S. Reports by using this chart.


About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.