Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A New Source for Superseded State Codes

HeinOnline has just added a new library of State Statutes: A Historical Archive to its collection. This library contains PDF scans of historic codes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, with some materials dating back to the early 18th century.

Why is this collection important? It provides easier online access to superseded state code sections, which researchers typically must access in print or microfiche at the Goodson Law Library or through limited online availability. Superseded codes allow you to view the text of the law in force, as amended, on a particular date in time, as opposed to session laws, which provide the text of the law as originally enacted by the legislature. A single code section may contain small pieces from many different session laws, so deducing the text of a code section on a particular date from only the session laws can be a difficult and frustrating process. But if you'd like to compare for yourself, State Statutes: A Historical Archive complements HeinOnline’s existing library of State Session Laws.

Current state codes are not a part of this online collection. In addition, some historic state codes are still being digitized for this project. Current state codes are available in print in the Goodson Law Library on level 3, and superseded editions of those codes can be located in the Superseded Codes collection and/or the Microforms Room on Level 1. Current and some superseded state codes can also be found online in LexisNexis and Westlaw, with historical editions generally dating back to the early 1990s. Many legislatures also post online versions of their current codes; free superseded editions are less common but may still be available through the state legislature's website.

To locate current state codes or more recent superseded codes which are not a part of this HeinOnline library, or for help using the new HeinOnline database, be sure to Ask a Librarian.