Each state has a source and note file that you can
access. These files guide you through the structure of each constitution, any
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.
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
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
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.
Although article and section numbers suffice for most constitutions, some
states have taken the numbering of text to much more detailed levels.
"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.
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
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.