Historical Texas Statutes

The State Law Library's digitization efforts have brought online over 100 years of historical Texas statutes. We provide free public access to digitized copies of Texas statutes from 1879 through 1984.

Availability

Years Source
Codes of 1856 — Legislative Reference Library
1879 – 1984 State Law Library
1985 – 2004 Not online* — see note below
2004 – present Statutes by Date — Texas Legislature Online

*There is no free, public online source for codified Texas statutes in effect between the last volume on this page and 2004. For these intervening years, see the session laws available on the Legislative Archive system from the Legislative Reference Library.

The State Law Library has an extensive print collection of historical Texas statutes, and we make these available to the public during our normal business hours. If you cannot visit the library in person, Ask a Librarian for assistance.

About the Printed Statutes

In 1854, the state legislature authorized a commission to codify existing laws. The Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure were completed in 1856. The civil statutes followed in 1879. Subsequent revisions and recodifications followed in 1895 and 1911. In 1925, there was a reorganization of the statutes, which still serves as the basis for our current statutes.

Between the years of 1911 and 1925, there was not an “official” publication of Texas statutes even though the legislature continued to meet every other year to write and amend laws.

To fill in the gaps in the official statutes, publisher John Sayles and his son Henry Sayles compiled and published unofficial volumes of Texas statutes in 1914. Called “Vernon’s Sayles’” after the publisher, these volumes contain the text of statutes, valuable annotations, and indexes from 1911 through 1921.

After 1925, the evolution of the Texas statutes is more complicated. The statutes are not reprinted in their entirety after each legislative session. Instead, the few complete reprintings of the statutes are updated with supplemental volumes after regular legislative sessions, which occur every 2 years.

Learn More

Texas Statutes
Information about legislative history and intent, bills, and session laws.

Drafting Manual — Texas Legislative Council
Contains a discussion of the continuing statutory revision project.

Historical Texas statutes research guide
A comprehensive guide to print sources of Texas statutes, both official and unofficial.

Tips

  • To see how a statute read on a particular date, you may need to consult both a base volume from one of the complete reprintings alongside one or more supplemental volumes.
  • We recommend the PDFs for advanced research. Each file is bookmarked with a table of contents for navigation.
  • To search or print from a volume, use the PDF version in your web browser or with PDF software — e.g., Adobe Reader .

Ask a Librarian for assistance navigating historical Texas statutes.

The library thanks Thomson Reuters, current copyright holders of the printed Texas statutes, for allowing us to provide access to the statutes from 1928 onward.

page last updated: 27 Jul 2021 9:12 AM