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Indiana Legislature proceedings from 19th century now available online

January 16, 2012

A joint project between the Indiana University Maurer School of Law Library and the IU Digital Library Program has digitized nearly 8,000 pages of General Assembly proceedings from the 1800s, creating an online repository that is accessible free of charge.

The Brevier Legislative Reports, published biennially from 1858 to 1887, offer a verbatim accounting of day-to-day activities in the Indiana Legislature. All sessions are covered, with the exception of the latter part of the 1875 Regular Session, the 1875 Special Session, and the 1877 Regular and Special Sessions.

The prosecution of the Civil War dominates discussion during the early years, but additional significant issues of the times were debated, including women’s suffrage, railroads, election of U.S. senators, temperance and prohibition, education and civil rights.

Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard said the reports offer a glimpse into periods of sweeping legal change that followed the Civil War.

“The Brevier Legislative Reports will provide scholars and legal practitioners with a more fulsome and reliable view of the social and political story in one of the nation’s largest industrializing states,” Shepard said. “The Maurer School’s librarians and the Digital Library Program have rescued from virtual oblivion a rich legal treasure of national proportions.”

The digitization project was made possible by a Library Services and Technology grant under the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for libraries and museums. The grant – awarded in 2008 – was administered by the Indiana State Library. The project received a grant-in-aid from the IU vice-provost for research.

Access to the reports is available online.

 

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