About Gammel's The Laws of Texas

About Gammel's Laws of Texas  |  Acknowledgements

About Gammel's Laws of Texas

H.P.N. Gammel's The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 has long been one of the most important primary resources for the study of Texas' complex history during the Nineteenth Century. His monumental compilation charts Texas from the time of colonization through to statehood and reveals Texas' legal history during crucial times in its development. The Laws consist of documents not only covering each congressional and legislative session but comprise other documents of significance, including the constitutions, select journals from the constitutional conventions, and early colonization laws. Texas state librarian, C.W. Raines, introduced the 1898 set as "the essential connecting links of our legal and political history . . . Not a heterogeneous mass, but a related whole, this compilation is the ethical expression of the period covered, or more plainly speaking, the prevailing idea of right and wrong as applied to social compact."

Although Gammel's editions of The Laws of Texas were published over one hundred years ago, they are still one of the main sources for researchers of early Texas law. Renowned Texas bibliographer John H. Jenkins calls the set "the most valuable compilation of early laws of Texas, and still the most useful" (Basic Texas Books 69). At the time this project was begun, The Laws' had never been reprinted and the set in its entirety had become quite rare and virtually impossible to obtain.  Furthermore, the existing sets are now often found in poor condition. They were printed on unstable paper, which is now brittle. When the original bindings are still found on the volumes, they often have boards separating, leather rotting, and pages loose and torn. And, because of the brittle paper, the volumes cannot be easily rebound. Due to these factors, access to the physical volumes is sometimes difficult; therefore, historians, legal professionals, students, and other researchers in the state and elsewhere will benefit from the electronic access offered in the proposed project.

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The initial Gammel project, completed in 2001, was made possible by a grant from the Texas State Library & Archives Commission TexTreasures Grant Program. The grant of $16,162 covered the cost of digitizing more than 16,500 pages of primary documents charting Texas' early development and for providing researchers free online access to the documents.

Thanks to Texas Christian University, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Government Documents Department for their kind loan of volumes V and VI so that we could scan the two sections missing from our volumes. Thanks also to the Austin History Center at the Austin Public Library for permission to publish photographs from their archives.

Cathy Hartman, Government Documents Librarian, University of North Texas Libraries, directed the Gammel Project. Christina Biles worked with Jane Himmel and Daniel Gelaw Alemneh to design the website and put the files online.

Northern Micrographics scanned the volumes, providing the UNT Libraries with archival TIFFs and corresponding PDF image-plus-text files on CD-ROMS. They also printed on acid-free paper and bound new copies of the volumes for use within the UNT Libraries.

Catherine Sassen, Ph.D., Cataloger, University of North Texas Libraries, created the original cataloging record (OCLC # 47235818) for the electronic version of Gammel's Laws of Texas.

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University of North Texas Libraries
Government Documents Dept.
P.O. Box 305190
Denton, TX 76203-5190
Phone: (940) 565-2870
Fax: (940) 565-2599

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This page is maintained by Starr Hoffman, and was last updated on November 08, 2006.