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On the Shelf: Hispanic Heritage Month at the Law Library

Seminario Judicial de la Federacion

Seminario Judicial de la Federacion (photo by Betty Lupinacci)

The following post is a joint effort by Betty Lupinacci (intro, photos) and Jennifer Davis (main text), both staff members in the Collection Services Division.

Earlier this month Jennifer wrote about some of our newest acquisitions on piracy law.  Following that post, the Global Legal Collection Directorate decided that we would regularly highlight not only new acquisitions, but interesting items in our collection that we run across in our day-to-day duties.  With this post, we are inaugurating a new series titled On the Shelf.

Much like the Global Legal Collection Highlights series our goal is not to endorse any particular titles, but merely to inform readers about the vast array of legal material we hold in our collection.

Unlike the Global Legal Collection Highlights series, these posts will not necessarily focus on content.  Sometimes we may stop to admire books based on their aesthetic qualities, or their sheer size, or maybe it will be a long-standing title that has moved into a new series (say for example, one of the National Reporter System titles).  We might also highlight newly digitized titles that we are working to preserve.  (So bear in mind that at times we may use the word “Shelf” a bit loosely here.)

The Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes said, “We have to assimilate the enormous weight of our past so we will not forget what gives us life. If you forget your past, you die.” Celebrating our heritage—our past, and the past of our families—is our chance to remember what gives us life. In the United States, we commemorate the heritage of Hispanic people during Hispanic Heritage Month.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. The date was chosen because September 15 is the anniversary of the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile and Belize also have independence days during the celebration period. The commemoration was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402. These laws are codified in the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. 126. You can find the public laws that designated a week, and then a month, for National Hispanic Heritage in the United States Statutes at Large which is widely available through federal depository libraries.

Another way legal researchers can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is to look over the resources available on the Law Library’s National Hispanic Heritage Month research page. Back in the Collection Services Division, Betty and I were talking about the best way we could celebrate the month. Although we could have picked any number of Hispanic heritage jurisdictions or majority Latino populations, we wanted to highlight some of our Mexican titles because we are excited about the recent arrival of a large number of official gazettes of the state of Coahuila.

Gazettes of the states of Coahuila, Baja California, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Sonora and Yucatan (photo by Betty Lupinacci)

Gazettes of the states of Coahuila, Baja California, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Sonora and Yucatan (photo by Betty Lupinacci)

We decided to show off some of our Mexican state gazette resources as well, calling attention in particular to Baja California, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Sonora and Yucatán, among our copies of gazettes for the rest of the 31 states, the Distrito Federal and the entire nation. Regular users of Mexican gazettes know that although all of them are available online, most of them are not official unless they’re in paper, and the online versions will print out with a watermark stating that it’s the unofficial version. We had also noted that the covers of the reports of the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación have gotten brighter—formerly a muddy light green, they’re now very shiny and sporting the colors of the Mexican flag, and you can see the results here:

Cover of the report of the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nacion (photo by Betty Lupinacci)

Cover of the report of the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nacion (photo by Betty Lupinacci)

Enjoy these shelfies of just a few of our rich holdings on the shelf here at the Law Library of Congress, and have a lovely Hispanic Heritage month!

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