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More Texas laws

The Legal Genealogist is in Dallas today as the 2016 Texas State Genealogical Societry conference gets underway.

Three full days of great genealogy. More than 75 separate sessions from more than 35 speakers. And just about every topic under the sun, from DNA testing to the law and court records.

It’s going to be a blast.

And, of course, the law will be one thing I’m going to be emphasizing since — as I’ve said, oh, not more than roughly a kazillion times — we can’t understand the records unless we understand the law.

But Texas legal research can be … um … challenging. It’s got the pre-republic laws of old Mexico. It’s got laws from the Republic of Texas. It’s got early statehood laws and late statehood laws. And the key to understanding the record we’re looking at is finding the right law from the right time.

So yesterday we talked about Gammel’s Laws1 — volumes covering Texas law from the very earliest days. The University of North Texas Libraries have this amazing website called The Portal to Texas History, and Gammel’s Laws are explained there: “H.P.N. Gammel’s The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 has long been one of the most important primary resources for the study of Texas’ complex history during the Nineteenth Century. … The complete set, volumes 1 – 33 are available.”2

pthVolumes 1-10 cover the years 1822 to 1897;3 those were the volumes published in 1898 with the documents salvaged from the Capitol fire.

Volume 11 picks up with the laws of 1897-1902;4 volume 12 has the laws of 1903-1905;5 volume 13 the laws of 19076 and so forth.

But… but… but…

Gammel’s Laws only has 33 volumes. The last numbered volume includes the laws of 1937-1939.

What about after Gammel’s Laws come to end?

Then what? Where are the laws after 1939?

Fear not.

Because that amazing website for Texas research, The Portal to Texas History, has more.

A lot more.

Starting with General and Special Laws of The State of Texas Passed By The Regular Session of the Forty-Seventh Legislature, the Portal to Texas History has a collection called the General and Special Laws of Texas.

And it’s got just about everything you might need to trace Texas laws after Gammel’s Laws come to end.

With two exceptions — the 48th legislative session (1943) and the 49th legislative session (1945) — all of the session laws passed by the Texas Legislature from the end of Gammel’s Laws to the 81st session of the Legislature in 2009 are available on the website.

So you can follow every single solitary meeting of the Texas legislature during those years and review what was passed. The general laws (laws of general application to everyone), like the law passed in 1941 making it a misdemeanor to trap or kill muskrats on private property without the consent of the property owner.7 And the special laws (laws passed for the benefit of a single individual or family), like the law passed that same term allowing Dr. J. R. Nichols of Hunt County to sue the state for damage from the construction of a state highway.8

Oh, and if that’s not enough, check out the collection of Republic of Texas Session Laws and the separate collection, the Texas Laws and Resolutions Archive.

Chances are pretty good one of these collections has what you need.


SOURCES

  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Law for the Lone Star State,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 27 Oct 2016 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 28 Oct 2016).
  2. Collection Description, H.P.N. Gammel’s The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 26 Oct 2016).
  3. H.P.N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897, 10 vols. (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1898), 4:716; digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 26 Oct 2016).
  4. H.P. N. Gammel, The Laws of Texas: Supplement Volume to the Original Ten Volumes, 1822-1897 (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1902); digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 26 Oct 2016).
  5. H.P. N. Gammel, General Laws of the State of Texas … 1903-1905 (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1906); digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 5 Mar 2015).
  6. H.P. N. Gammel, General Laws of the State of Texas … 1907 (Austin : Gammell Book Co., 1907); digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 26 Oct 2016).
  7. General and Special Laws of The State of Texas Passed By The Regular Session of the Forty-Seventh Legislature (Austin : Legislature, 1941), 174; digital images, University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History (http://texashistory.unt.edu : accessed 26 Oct 2016).
  8. Ibid., at 1497.
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