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Locating a State Constitution: A Beginner's Guide

Historic State Constitutions

Sometimes our researchers would prefer to see superseded or historical versions of state constitutions.  The following links will display bibliographic information about the volumes in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Collections of Historic State Constitutions

There are two primary print collections that contain historical state constitutions.

In addition to these print collections, researchers might be interested in the following online resource:

Search Strategies

More information about state historical constitutional documents, including pre-prepared bibliographies, can be found by searching the subject headings Constitutions–United States–States and Constitutions–United States–States–Bibliography.

You can locate later constitutions in print by searching for your state name and the word “constitution” in our catalog. You can also use the Library of Congress Online Catalog to browse subject headings. Click “search options,” “browse,” and use the drop-down to select “SUBJECTS beginning with” or “SUBJECTS containing,” and then input a subject heading using one of the examples shown below. Finally, click on a result and you can browse the materials classified under that subject heading.

Researchers might consider using the following subject headings to find more resources:

  • Constitutional law–[State Name]
  • Constitutions–[State Name]
  • Constitution–[State Name]
  • Session Laws–[State Name]

Please note: Session laws are the laws enacted by a legislature in any specific session, arranged chronologically. These session law collections are usually similar in setup to the federal United States Statutes at Large publication, which is described further in Federal Statutes: A Beginner’s Guide. Historical constitutions or constitutional provisions are typically available in the state’s session law collection.

Subject-based Indexes

Finally, for patrons attempting to determine how different state constitutions have historically approached different topics, legal researchers have collected different subject-based indexes, including: