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Laws of Illinois

Photo of a gavel with the text Laws of Illinois

The Western Illinois University Libraries is pleased to announce the development of the Laws of Illinois web site. WIU Libraries received an award from the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries of Illinois (CARLI) to digitize early volumes of the Laws of Illinois. The digital collection is nearly complete through 1869. The laws are permanently stored in the Internet Archive, this website enables users to easily access the volumes.

While a few of the volumes linked from the web site were digitized through Google´s books digitization project and the Hathi Trust Digital Library, most of the volumes were digitized from the Laws of Illinois collection at Western Illinois University and the Illinois State Library. The State Library digitized Laws of Illinois volumes from 1834 to 1841, while Abraham Lincoln served in the Illinois House of Representatives. An index to the Laws of Illinois through 1869 was digitized by the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. In most cases, the text of individual volumes can be searched. The collection includes auditor and treasurer’s reports, public laws, dealing with government structure, services and operations, and private laws, which were passed for the benefit of private individuals. For example, private laws were passed to allow wives to inherit property from their deceased husbands.

Linda Zellmer, Government Publications and Data Services Librarian at Western Illinois University compiled links to digitized volumes of the laws that governed Illinois from the passage of the Northwest Ordinance in 1787 through 1869. For ease of use, they are divided by territory and decade. According to Zellmer, "This was an interesting project to develop. By collecting these laws into one location, research into the early history of Illinois will be much easier for users. It also makes the information more accessible to a wider audience, from school children to genealogists and historians, and will help us preserve our fragile printed volumes."

Although this is not a complete collection, it is hoped that additional volumes will be added to the online collection over time. Any organization or person with volumes of the Laws of Illinois that are not included in the collection should contact Ms. Zellmer at LR-Zellmer@wiu.edu or by calling 309-298-2723.