General Instructions for using the state constitutions:

Each state has a source and note file which you can access. These files guide you through the structure of each constitution, identifies some problems or idiosyncracies that you may find, any problems that we have yet to fix but you need to know about, and the source documents that we used.

Constitutions are typically structured into articles and sections. We try to duplicate the naming conventions of each constitution as closely as possible, but there are several problems with that.

In the discussion that follows we discuss some basic issues with coding constitutions and tracking constitutional amendments. The coding instructions given to each research assistants contain a more technical discussion of coding techniques. To see the instructions click here:

Coding Instructions

Construction of Constitutions:

Unnumbered Articles:

States often include text that does not fall within a numbered article. For example, preambles to constitutions are rarely "Article I," although they sometimes are. Transition schedules are rarely given an article number. In order to maintain consistency throughout the constitutional series, we have given special article codes (numbers) to text that does not fall within an article. All of these codes are in the 9000 range, 9001 to 9099.

In some cases, large amounts of text is unnumbered articles. For example, the Alabama constitution of 1818 has several floating articles. Article 4 deals with the executive department and has 24 sections. The next article deals with Militia, but is unnumbered. The Militia article has 6 sections. The Militia article is followed by Article 5, dealing with the Judiciary.

We have given the Militia article of the Alabama constitution the article code 9008. This particular constitution also has unnumbered articles dealing with impeachment (9009), education (9007), banks (9010), slaves (9011), amendments to the constitution (9012), and a transition schedule (9003).

In order to maintain consistency, unnumbered articles are given a 9000 code that reflects the subject of the article (or text). These numbers are consistent across constitutions and are listed at the end of this file (click here to see list).

It is also the case in a few constitutions that there are no article numbers. For example, the Kentucky constitution of 1890 has no articles at all, only sections. The text of the constitution does indicate individual article topics, but no article numbers. We have included 9000 codes for each of the topical areas in the Kentucky constitution.

One should also be aware that some constitutions, e.g. the Alabama constitution of 1901, contain article numbers, but number the sections consecutively from section 1 to section 287. This constitution also has article numbers.

When you search for articles and sections, you need to know whether you are looking for text that may be included in an unnumbered article, or in a constitution that may have an odd numbering scheme. The Sources and Notes gives you that information.

Articles, Sections, and additional identifiers:

Although article and section numbers suffice for most constitutions, some states have taken the numbering of text to much more detailed levels.

We code individual pieces of text using five identifiers:

  1. Article
  2. Article.subnumber
  3. Section
  4. Section.subnumber
  5. Part

"Subnumbers" are used when article or section numbers are duplicated. For example, the Maryland constitution of 1867, now contains article 11, article 11-A, article 11-B, ... to article 11- J. These are all independent articles (they are not parts of article 11). We use subnumbers to identify each article: 11.A, 11.B. etc.

This also happens with sections.

Note that section 001.A is not a sub-section or part A of section 1. Section 1-A is a completely independent section.

We also include "part" numbers. The part number is a flexible notation. In New Jersey, individual sections include "paragraphs." In New Jersey, these paragraphs are coded as parts. In Maryland, the article on the Judiciary (Article 4), is broken up into parts dealing with different types of courts. We have identified those parts with part numbers.

You should check carefully the notes to each state to be clear what an article, section, part, and subnumbers mean in each individual state.


This section lists every article, its number, its subject, and its title. Soon these will be linked to the texts through an index of articles.


As you will see, state constitutions are complicated documents. States do not always maintain their constitutional records in a way that makes it easy to track the text of the constitution through time. In every state we have done our best to track down original texts and amendments, but problems still remain.

The problem section of each Source and Notes file identifies individual articles and sections which we have been unable to locate or with problems in the text. These are notes to ourselves as well as to you. We hope to resolve these problems, eventually. If you can help us, please let us know.


Each of the constitutions has been worked on by an individual research assistant, who is recognized in the source notes. The source notes provide several pieces of information:

The actual source of text that we used. Often this is Thorpe, verified by Swindler and/or Poore for 19th century constitutions.

A brief discussion of problems with Thorpe. We began our project with Thorpe's text. In many cases Thorpe had used an amended or other non-original constitution. The source files identify what Thorpe actually did, and how serious our revisions of Thorpe are.

As of January 2002, we have used the following 9000 codes:

  • 9001 Preambles
  • 9002 Bills of Rights
  • 9003 Transition Schedules
  • 9004 Executive Branch
  • 9005 Legislative Brach
  • 9006 Judicial Branch
  • 9007 Education
  • 9008 Militia
  • 9009 Impeachment
  • 9010 Banks
  • 9011 Slavery
  • 9012 Amending the Constitution
  • 9013 Secession
  • 9014
  • 9015 Suffrage and Elections
  • 9016 Certificate
  • 9017 Municipalities
  • 9018 Revenue and Taxation
  • 9019 Corporations
  • 9020 Railroads
  • 9021 Distribution of Powers
  • 9022 General Provisions
  • 9023 Ordinance
  • 9024 Local Officers
  • 9025 Amendments of Amendments that do not amend an existing section
  • 9026 Federal Constitution Adopted (Hawaii)
  • 9099 Miscellaneous material and amendments that do not amend an existing article.