more historical NC Session Laws online soon

October 21, 2011

The North Carolina General Assembly website contains searchable and downloadable  Session Laws (enactments of the General Assembly in chronological order) at

From 1959 through 1982 only LOCAL laws are included (those applicable in less than 15 counties), because they had be manually typed in and proofread when we buolt our electronic database in 1987. Most public laws are eventually codified in our General Statutes and available in a subject matter database and local laws were a higher priority online need for legislative drafters, researchers and municipal and county attorneys and staff. From 1983 forward we have ALL Session Laws, public and local in our Session Laws database.

In 2008 after we added the 1959 local acts we stopped the manual process of adding older laws as digitzation of old books seemed on the horizon. Now, we’ve gotten to the horizon as a library digitization projects conclude.

Between now and July of 2012 we’ll start processing the  digitized 1008 public laws from 1981  and 1982 to add to the 392 local acts from that biennium in the database. While we will not be adding any large group of local acts pre-1959 until we get all the public laws online back to then, we are exploring adding several old city charters from Raleigh, Winston-Salem, and Asheville for historical reference purposes.

see  the 25 largest municipalities all have charters enacted since 1958 which means they are already in our database. Missing? Three big ones:

Raleigh: Chapter 1184, Session Laws of 1949, April 23, 1949.

Winston-Salem: Chapter 232, Private Laws of 1927, March 3, 1927.

Asheville: Chapter 16, Private Laws of 1923, January 26, 1923, and Chapter 121, Private Laws of 1931, March 30, 1931.  The 1931 charter revisal was not a complete consolidation, it enacted new material as well as repealing parts and reenacting parts of the 1923 charter simply by referring to section numbers of the 1923 act, so both documents must still be consulted.


North Carolina laws from 1817 to 1871 now online

October 12, 2010

A year ago I posted about the big joint ECU/UNC/State/Legislative libraries project to digitize and publish 750,000+ pages of NC historical records.

We’ve got a batch of old laws online now — laws, public laws and private laws volumes from 1817 through 1871-72 are now up. In most cases you can get at them in multiple formats (Read Online, PDF, B/W PDF, EPUB, Kindle, Daisy, Full Text, and DjVu) at the link below. I’ll see if we can get these in some form to search across all the volumes.  For now, enjoy.

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1817)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1818)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1819)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1820)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1821)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1822)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1823)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1824)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1825)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1826)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1827)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1828)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1829)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1830/31)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1831/32)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1832/33)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1833/34)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1834/35)

The laws of North-Carolina  (Volume 1835)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,  (Volume 1836/37)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,  (Volume 1838/1839)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,  (Volume 1840/41)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,  (Volume 1842/43)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,   (Volume 1844/45)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,   (Volume 1846/47)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,   (Volume 1848/49)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,   (Volume 1850/51)

Laws of the State of North Carolina,   (Volume 1852)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1854/55)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1854/55)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1856/57)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1856/57)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1858/59)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1858/59)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1860/61)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1860/61)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1861)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1862/63)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1862/63)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1863)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1864/65)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1864/65)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1865/66)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1865/66)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1866/67)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1866/67)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1868)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1868/69)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1868/69)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1869/70)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1869/70)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1870/71)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1870/71)

Public laws of the State of North-Carolina,   (Volume 1871/72)

Private laws of the State of North-Carolina,  (Volume 1871/72)

My 33rd year at NCGA starts today

November 14, 2009

I started working at the North Carolina General Assembly November 14, 1977, so my 33rd year starts today!

first scans – NC public records digitization project

September 10, 2009

I posted this past weekend about the big joint ECU/UNC/State/Legislative libraries project to digitize and publish 750,000+ pages of NC historical records.

I’ve learned from the North Carolina Legislative Library: “UNC has begun scanning materials on the Scribe, and ECU will begin testing data extracts from the Internet Archive in the next three weeks, with the hope that we get the first sample set of data sometime in October. UNC is starting at the top of the alphabetized priority one list and scanning until they are done.”

Linked is the initial subject list of the 1,307 volumes containing 581,736 pages that are being scanned. Some of the 56 different types of publications include:

Read the rest of this entry »

Law Writer blog premieres

September 5, 2009

While cover on this North Carolina legislative news and research tips, Phyllis Pickett of our North Carolina drafting staff has started a new blog entitled “Law Writer: Legislative Drafting and Analysis in the Real World” covering the more technical aspects of law writing. Drop by, won’t you? Looks like it will give a good treatment to the science of law writing, while I continue to cover the arts.

Phyllis even has a twitter feed on drafting linked to her blog.  I have trouble figuring out twitter.  Seems to be like CB radio on a keyboard. Breaker, breaker.

Her great quote from her Twitter feed today appropos of drafting: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. – Mark Twain’

Huge NC public records digitization underway

September 5, 2009

In late July, 2008, I posted on why we were stopping our internal legislative digitization project at 1959:

We’ve been going back one legislative session (two years) each year and scanning local acts.  We’ve to date not posted public laws from 1959 through 1982 to reduce the expense of the project (all laws since 1983 are online because that was the year we began saving all acts in an electronic format at the time of enactment).  With a half-century of laws now online, we’ll be exploring a different way of adding to our digital holdings — we might try to fill in the missing public acts or go back farther in time — or both. Here’s an abstract of a session I attended at the National Conference of State Legislature’s Annual Summit in New Orleans that gave us an idea of a potentially cheaper and faster way to add more laws:

“How can researchers get access to old and fragile legislative books and records without jeopardizing venerable materials? Learn about the collaborative project between the Internet Archive and the Ontario Legislative Assembly, in which journals are scanned and made available to the public through the Internet Archive.”

Good news for those desiring better public access to public records: The North Carolina State Library recently announced a $124,693 grant to the ECU library under the Library Services and Technology Act program for year one of two for an “Ensuring Democracy Through Digital Access” project that will digitize and publish an enormous volume of North Carolina public records. ECU will partner with UNC libraries, the State Library, and the Legislative Library in this important project.  This will include all North Carolina public, private, and session laws from the eighteenth century through 2000, as well as House and Senate journals, all in text searchable format.

Joyner Library at ECU publicized the grant approval last month:

A two-year grant will fund the creation of a digital collection of core North Carolina governmental documents by J.Y. Joyner Library at East Carolina University and two other state libraries. The “Ensuring Democracy through Digital Access” grant will allow Joyner Library, the State Library of North Carolina (SLNC), and the University of North Carolina Library at Chapel Hill to digitize state documents along with printed volumes from the three partner libraries, the N.C. Supreme Court Library and the N.C. Legislative Library. When the project is completed, computer users worldwide will have access to complete runs of session laws, legislative journals, and reports of such important agencies as the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Department of Public Instruction.

A total of 775,000 pages (approximately 2,300 volumes) will be digitized over the course of two years by UNC-CH in cooperation with the Open Content Alliance, a collaborative digital library of more than 1.2 million digitized volumes and other multimedia from around the world, all freely available through the Internet Archive. In the second year, J.Y. Joyner Library will lead a workshop in which area educators will use the North Carolina Standard Course of Study to develop educational activities that will further enhance classroom learning.  These materials will then be added to the collection website in a special educator portal. In addition, ECU will promote the finished product at several conferences …  The grant, “Ensuring Democracy through Digital Access,”is made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. For more information about the grant or JY Joyner Library, please contact Dawn Wainwright at (252) 328-4090.

A draft narrative I obtained of the project adds:

“This collection includes a broad sampling of state publications with a focus on the 19th and early 20th centuries. These publications, which range from reports from the tax research department to reports of public charities to the Public Documents of the State of North Carolina, offer a rich historical perspective of the development of state government, especially when they are combined with their digital counterpart, recent session laws, vital statistics, and House & Senate Journals already available on the internet. … Because legislative material is so important in understanding North Carolina history, many historical legal titles from as early as the mid-eighteenth century were included in this project and the Session Laws and the House & Senate Journals were included in their entire runs and brought up to the point where they are currently available on the internet. In addition, annual/biennial reports to the general assembly from various state agencies were included in extended runs from their beginnings in the Public Documents set up until the mid-to-late twentieth century which gives an interesting picture of how these agencies have evolved over time. … Other types of publications included in this project are statistical works, public papers of the governors, publications of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, railroad reports, and commission/board reports …To help users contextualize this information, the partners will develop a collection website at a neutral domain name that will provide a gateway to the materials within the … repository. This website will use a suite of Web 2.0 tools to offer users a means to interact with the data in the repository in powerful and creative ways. For example, one tool may take subject headings assigned to records for these books and display them in a “tag cloud” style configuration, where terms that are used more frequently appear larger than terms used less frequently… The Ensuring Democracy collection will consist of the fully digitized collection of approximately 2,500 volumes available through the project website with the suite of tools and other contextual elements described above. The project will also include an educational/promotional component with the goal of creating classroom activities related to the materials for the use of educators and exposing the new collection to this audience. … In addition, 40-50 classroom activities created by master teachers will be available.

 The project partners will purchase a neutral domain name for the website so as to avoid confusion about the scope or ownership of the collection …  In addition, a small number of non-governmental resources will be digitized to add context and scope to the collection. The documents have been chosen from across all branches of government and offer a well-rounded picture of the development of the state through this crucial period. …Of the approximately 2,500 volumes selected for digitization, 37% are in the public domain because they were published before 1923. The remaining 63% of the volumes selected for digitization are state agency publications that were published after 1923. There is a lot more information in a July 2009 post on  the UNC libraries digital collections blog:

“The UNC University Library is honored to serve as a partner on the recently awarded Ensuring Democracy through Digital Access NC ECHO grant. We look forward to working with the lead institution, East Carolina University, and the State Library of North Carolina, on this project. In addition, the North Carolina Supreme Court Library and the Legislative Library (State Agency Libraries) will participate as contributing partners. In addition to the existing UNC Scribe digitization program, this project will produce the most comprehensive digital collection to date of core North Carolina state government documents, offering researchers a historical view of the development of the state’s government and infrastructure in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It will enrich the lives of citizens of the State of North Carolina by providing online, 24/7 access to vast offerings of historical, geographic, social, and political information using digitization technology developed by the Internet Archive. Housed in the Digital Production Center of the Carolina Digital Library and Archives, the UNC Library’s Scribe digitization program has contributed over 4,000 titles to the Internet Archive since December 2007. As a result of the Ensuring Democracy through Digital Accessgrant, a second Scribe scanning station will be added to the Library’s digitization program in July 2009.”

Do counties have charters? (no and yes)

September 4, 2009

 After I posted earlier this week about city charters I got an inquiry about whether counties have charters. I would view the initial act creating a county as its charter, but no county that I know of has ever sought an enactment to codify its local acts into one document as municipalities do from time to time.  Even the initial “act” creating a county has many sources — Lords Proprietors, Governor and Council, colonial assembly, or the General Assembly.  County “charters” were also apparently repealed by the Governor on instructions from the Board of Trade and/or the Crown in London, and then the crown consented to the colonial assembly reenacting them.

 The best compilation of these initial enactments and boundary amendments is Corbitt’s “Formation of the North Carolina Counties 1663-1943“, second printing with corrections 1969, which excerpts boundary descriptions and contains citations to the acts, orders, and colonial records establishing each county.

 There is a compilation of local acts relating to counties:

North Carolina County Legislation Index: A Complete Listing of the Local or Special Acts Passed by the General Assembly for Each County 1669-1961“, ed. by Clyde L. Ball and “North Carolina County Legislation Index: Supplement 1966”  — which covers the 1963 and 1965 sessions. Both of those indices are in the Legislative Library and the School of Government Library. They contain citations only and not the texts of any acts. New Hanover County apparently used these documents in preparing what became Chapter 354 of the 1979 Session Laws, AN ACT TO REPEAL ACTS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY RELATING TO NEW HANOVER COUNTY which repealed almost 200 local acts dating back to 1777.

The North Carolina State Library recently received a grant to digitize and publish  text searchable versions of many original North Carolina documents. Among the first to be done will be Session Law (including private acts, public acts, etc) volumes from the 1700s forward to 2000.  I will post as this project moves forward (I do not know any timeline yet)