University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution Project

David Fields News

Each year on Constitution Day (September 17), David Fields (UW-Madison Department of History, Ph.D., 2017) and the Center for the Study of the American Constitution (CSAC) likes to call attention to the fact that the entire corpus (to date) of the monumental Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution (DHRC) is available online for free. At more than 15,000 pages, the DHRC volumes offer the most complete record of how the Constitution was understood, debated, and ultimately ratified by the American people. These volumes are essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the Constitution in its historical context. The DHRC volumes are regularly cited by scholars and also by the United States Supreme Court, including this past June in the Husted v. Randolph Institute decision.

For those interested in the Constitution, but looking for something a bit more concise than a 15,000 page documentary history, CSAC’s webpage contains dozens of highly curated document collections on various topics, such as this one on metaphors used to describe the Constitution. These collections were created with classroom use in mind and are an excellent resource for educators.