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On the Shelf: Minnesota Session Laws

This installment of On the Shelf features the Session Laws of the State of Minnesota.

The title caught my attention when technicians inventorying and reviewing it brought up several questions (leading to one incorrect answer on my part).

The initial question was in reference to the first three volumes which had a different title than the other books.

These turned out to be three years of the Session Laws of the Territory of Minnesota.

When we come across items such as this, we immediately hand them over to our Rare Book Curator Nathan Dorn, as all pre-state material is considered to be, if not rare in terms of date of publication, then at least part of a special collection. Before I allowed the three volumes to be transferred, I decided to sneak a couple photos.




The next question that arose involved several volumes titled Special Laws. Based on years of looking at various sets of state session laws, I assumed these were laws passed during special sessions of the Minnesota legislature. Upon further examination, I was proved wrong.

The Minnesota Constitution, article XII, section 2 defines a special law as

Every law which upon its effective date applies to a single local government unit or to a group of such units in a single county or a number of contiguous counties is a special law and shall name the unit or, in the latter case, the counties to which it applies…

Article 645.021 of the Minnesota Statutes, further establishes name, local approval and filing requirements that apply to special laws in Minnesota.

Special Laws, thus, are an item unto themselves and need to have their own bibliographic record.

[I knew I should have gone to Pimsleur’s!]

Around the turn of the century (c. 1900) the state merged the two and incorporated these special laws into their general session laws.


All photos by Betty Lupinacci



So, much like the South African gazettes in my earlier post, something that on first blush seems to be a single title that would be tied to a single bibliographic record proves to be anything but.

For the millennials reading this post, and others who prefer digital versions, the State has provided an online resource for all three sets: the Territory laws, the general Session Laws and the Special Laws.

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