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about the archives
Originals of legislative petitions, bills, resolves, messages, and reports since 1820 are maintained in this collection.
Legislative materials exist in a variety of forms: bills, acts, resolves, and legislative records. The Archives retains both the "original papers" and the printed "legislative documents." In addition, various reports, messages and studies may be found among the legislative business papers.
The Legislature publishes a verbatim record of the proceedings of both House and Senate, which provides an excellent source of information on the debates in each branch during the regular and special sessions of the Legislature. The Legislative Record was first published in 1897. There are no official publications of the State which fully report the debates of the Legislature prior to that date.
Records of Legislative Proceedings
The proceedings of the Senate and House of Representatives are recorded in the Journals of the respective branches of the Legislature. The journals were produced annually from 1820-1880; biennially, from 1881-1975; and annually from 1977. The journals were produced annually from 1820-1880; biennially, from 1881-1975; and annually from 1977. The journals of both houses were published and distributed from time to time by legislative authority; but this policy was neither consistent nor continuous, and finally abandoned in 1925. The earliest published journal is that of the Senate in 1854; of the House, 1855.
Legislative Papers and Documents
The Legislative Document series consists primarily of the bills and resolves introduced during a particular session; but also may include such materials as reports, amendments and redrafts of legislation. The Legislative Documents for the sessions from 1833 to 1867 are included in the collected public documents of the State. References to the Legislative Documents collected in the Maine Public Documents will be found in the Index to Maine Public Documents, 1834-1867, printed in the Thirty-Second Report of the Librarian of the Maine State Library, for the Years 1905 and 1906, and in Hasse's Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States. The Legislative Documents for each Legislature were separately collected and indexed from 1868 to 1929. Those collected in the Legislative Documents series from 1947 to date will be found indexed in the Register of All Bills and Resolves published by legislative authority. Typed indexes to the Legislative Documents for 1933-1945 are available at the State Law Library.
The so-called " original papers" are the original drafts of the acts and resolves which were passed by the Legislature, together with related papers and documents. The papers themselves are an invaluable source of information, and are well worth examining if the subject of research involves a particular act or resolve passed by the Legislature.
The so-called " Legislative Graveyard" consists of bills that failed of enactment and various reports and communications. Part of these records were indexed by the Secretary of the Senate when they were originally filed; and copies of the indexes to the files were printed in the Senate Journals for various sessions between 1865-1876. At one time Sprague's Journal of Maine History published exerpts from the files under the title Maine's Legislative Graveyard - From Bills, Acts, Resolves, and Memorials, Discarded by Maine Legislatures since 1820. The files of individual legislators accumulated by the Office of Legislative Research which contain the drafts of legislation prepared by that office are routinely transferred to the Maine State Archives at the end of each biennium for research use. The confidentiality of individual legislator files in the Office of Legislative Research is protected by statute during the biennium in which they are created; and information from the files may not be disclosed by the Office except with the express authorization of the particular legislator.
Reports, Communications, Messages
Another important source which should not be overlooked are the various reports, communications and messages, both of the Governors and otherwise, published in the session laws from 1840 on, and between 1820-1840 in the printed pamphlets of resolves. The published revisions also include such informative material as the Note by the Commissioner on the Sources of Land Titles in Maine in the Revised Statutes of 1883, and the brief history of the first five revisions contained in the Commissioner's Prefatory Note to the 1903 revision. The reports of the various Commissioners to revise the general and public laws of the State should be consulted if there is difficulty in tracing the source of some particular statute, since the earlier revisions were, in fact, a great deal more substantive, and various changes were enacted by the revisions generally upon the basis of the recommendations made in these reports. Bibliographies which list Maine Session laws and revisions are noted in the History of Statutory Law in the State of Maine appearing in Volume 1 of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated (1964).
Opinion of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General
The Senate, House of Representatives and Governor are empowered under the Constitution to ask the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court "to give their opinion upon solemn occasions." A reference set is maintained by the Attorney General of all opinions issued by that office which includes copies of those opinions not published in the biennial reports or which have been rendered since the discontinuance of the biennial report in 1972. Copies of the opinions are also available for consultation at the State Law Library.
Legislative Studies and Research
Research into the diverse problems undertaken by the Legislature or by its authority are generally made available in the form of written reports made available to the public through the State Law Library, Joint Standing Committees or Legislative Staff Offices. These reports and other non-current records are generally transferred to the Maine State Archives by the legislative service agencies as part of the records of the Legislature and are available for research use.
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