Posted by: bluesyemre | September 19, 2014

Archived Legal Materials from Official Gazettes (Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) Now Available Through

An index card created for a 1970 Guatemalan decree and its file drawer

  • The Law Library of Congress has always relied on primary sources of law wherever possible to respond to requests from the U.S. Congress and its other patrons. For foreign countries, the fundamental source of law is generally the official gazette and the Law Library has amassed a voluminous collection of gazettes since acquiring its first one, from Mexico, in the mid-nineteenth century.  Although many countries now make their official gazettes available online, making use of these sources over the years has proved challenging since many of them lack indexes. To solve this problem, beginning in the 1950s in what was then the Hispanic Law Division of the Law Library, foreign law specialists began to create their own indexes to the content of the gazettes for twenty Spanish-and Portuguese-speaking countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. (One French-speaking Caribbean nation, Haiti, was also included.) Attorneys created brief descriptive summaries of the legal instruments that were typed up on 3″ X 5″ index cards along with basic information about the publication source. To access this information quickly, the indexers also included subject terms on the cards which were then filed alphabetically by subject.

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