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Corpus Juris Secundum: A Legal Encyclopedia

Corpus Juris Secundum is an encyclopedia that uses American case law (federal and state) to provide an overview of almost all areas of law. The encyclopedia is available in print in Andersen Library's Reference Law Collection, on the south side of the 2nd (main) floor at Ref KF65 .M3. The encyclopedia's articles may include references to statutory law and definitions of legal terms in addition to references to court cases.

Another legal encyclopedia is available online: American Jurisprudence 2d (Campus Research [Westlaw]) - UWW access only
Click on the "Law" tab. Type search term(s) into the "Search:" box, then select American Jurisprudence 2d under "Encyclopedias and Law Reviews."

Table of Contents:

Find encyclopedia articles | Find cited cases | Check the current status of cited cases | Find other cited materials

cjs flowchart

Numbered stages in the following flowchart correspond to the steps listed below:

Find encyclopedia articles on a legal topic

  1. Look up a subject in the General Index volumes to find relevant legal topics and subtopics under which articles are found in the subject volumes. Topics are broad areas of law which are broken down into numbered subtopics (sections ?) that deal with specific aspects of the broader topic, e.g.,

    CRIMINAL LAW ? 1 Alibi

  2. Find the legal topics and numbered subtopics in the subject volumes. Other relevant subtopics may be found by scanning the outline at the beginning of each broad topic. When reading the article(s), note any pertinent court cases (or other legal authorities) cited in the footnotes of the article, e.g.,
    80 L.Ed. 1160 (U.S. Supreme Court)
    40 F. SUPP. 654 (District Court)
    92 P. 2d 470 (State Court)

Find cited cases on the legal topic

  1. Look up the cited cases in the National Reporter System, or in one of the online legal research databases:
  2. Find citations to related cases within the text or footnotes. Also, note the topic and subtopic (section) number from the headnotes of a case, e.g.,


  3. Look up the topic and subtopic number (called the "key number" in digests) in the General Digest or digest for the desired level of court and select related cases from the listing. The same topic and key number can be looked up in any digest series.
    Note: Andersen Library has discontinued most digest subscriptions in paper. For more recent cases, use keyword searches in either of the online legal research databases (LexisNexis Academic or Westlaw's Campus Research).
  4. Copy citations to pertinent cases from the digest, and look them up in the National Reporter System, or in one of the online legal research databases:

Check the current status of cases

  1. Find cases which cite, affirm, modify, or overturn a known case or law by finding the known citation in the appropriate Shepard citator or by using KeyCite in the Westlaw Campus Research database.
    • Shepard's: Each Shepard citator entry cites later cases in the National Reporter System. Legal Research in a Nutshell (Ref KF240 .C54) has instructions for Shepardizing. Shepard citators also list citations to American Law Reports and American Jurisprudence, available in the Campus Research database.
      Note: Andersen Library has discontinued all Shepard's subscriptions in paper. use Shepard's via the LexisNexis Academic database for court cases - UWW access only
    • KeyCite: KeyCite is available through the Westlaw Campus Research database, covering all federal and state cases in the National Reporter System as well as statutes. For cases it provides a history of the case and notes negative treatment, e.g., a red flag indicates that on at least one point the case has been overturned or overruled. KeyCite also lists citing materials such as law review articles.


Law books are shelved by the south wall of the reference room. Classification numbers for law books referred to in this guide are listed below. Remember that no digests, reporters, or Shepard's sets are received in paper format by Andersen Library anymore. All print volumes of regional reporters except for Northwestern have been withdrawn; their titles are listed below without call numbers.

Corpus Juris Secundum Ref KF65 .M3

West's General Digest and Decennial Digest Ref KF141 (indexes to cases in other West's National Reporters)

All federal courts:

West's Federal Practice Digest Ref KF105 .W4

Supreme Court level:

U.S. Supreme Court Reports Ref KF101 .U5; Digest Ref KF101.1 .U5; Shepard's U.S. Citations Ref KF101.2 S57x

Circuit and District Court level:

West's Federal Reporter Ref KF105.F4

West's Federal Supplement Ref KF105 .F42

Shepard's Federal Citations Ref KF105.2 .S42

State Appellate Courts:

West's Atlantic Reporter (contains CT,DE,ME,MD,NH,NJ,PA,RI,VT)

West's North Eastern Reporter (contains IL,IN,MA,NY,OH)

West's North Western Reporter 1st & 2d (contains IA,MI,MN,NE,ND,SD,WI) Ref KF135 .N7N12; Digest Ref KF135 .N72W4; Shepard's North Western Reporter Citations Ref KF135 .N721S5 -- Andersen Library's holdings of print volumes ends with volume 600 N.W.2d, 2001

West's Pacific Reporter (contains AK,AZ,CA,CO,HI,ID,KS,MT,NV,NM,OK,OR,UT,WA,WY)

West's South Eastern Reporter (contains GA,NC,SC,VA,WV)

West's South Western Reporter (contains AR,KY,MO,TN,TX)

West's Southern Reporter (contains AL,FL,LA,MS)

Last revised: BRB - August 10, 2007


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Whitewater, WI 53190-1790

Contact the Library

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Reference Desk: 262-472-1032