I introduced the Historic Minnesota Statutes page in October. Back then it felt like I was off the hook a little, because the state’s revisor of statutes had a fantastic collection of old session laws online. I have changed my mind. What the state had up was not enough for the best law library experience.
Session laws are nice, but there is more out there. I added to the Historic Minnesota Statutes page, and it now includes links to compiled laws and books on specific topics, like railroad, school, and labor laws, and laws relating to wild animals. Compiled statutes and topical compilations help focus a search because they lump laws on a specific topic together. Those topics might be relevant to the life of your ancestor. For example, if your ancestor ran a Minnesota hotel in the early 1900s, the 1913 book Hotel Inspection Laws of Minnesota might add new perspective to your work. Have a librarian in the family? Try Minnesota Library Laws. You get the picture. There is a world of knowledge waiting.
There is a new page in the Minnesota library, Historic Minnesota Case Law Digests. Browse a digest’s table of cases for familiar surnames. If you find a case listed that you want to see, look for the case in a case reporter. Another way to use a digest is by looking up a topic of interest, and then reading what the courts decided on that topic. If you want to know what the courts decided on a railroad’s responsibility to its passengers, check out the digest topic Carriers.
When looking up the law, time and place is crucial. Laws are different from one place to another, and from one time to another in the same place.
I ditched the idea of marking law pages with a significant collection elsewhere with “external.” It was confusing to the reader and I was doing myself a disservice, because even those pages take a decent amount of my time. When I add content to pages previously marked external, I remove that notation. Right now it just serves as a signal to me that I have more work to do.
Enjoy the new Minnesota books!