301.5 The Basics of Texas Superseded Statutory Research

301.5 The Basics of Texas Superseded Statutory Research

Introduction: The Basics of Texas Superseded Statutory Research

It will assist in your research to achieve a basic understanding of the Texas statutory system in its past and current forms. In its oldest forms (i.e., pre-Republic, Republic, and early statehood), Texas statutes were typically organized in a one- or two-volume set that was not specifically ordered or annotated, but merely arranged by various article numbers. Eventually, better systems evolved for the ordering of statutes, and by the early decades of the twentieth century, the famous (or infamous) Vernon’s statutes (a.k.a. the black books) were born. Vernon’s statutes are typically annotated and arranged by subject. The early versions of Vernon’s (Vernon’s Annotated Revised Civil Statutes of the State of Texas [hereinafter Revised Civil Statutes]) are organized by article number, and usually these article numbers correspond to a specific subject (e.g., blue sky law, elections). Over the years, the Texas Legislature revised and organized these statutes by subject matter into discrete codes.

Getting Started

By looking in the Historical Notes section at the end of your statute, you can see what year your statute was passed and/or amended, as well as its former citation(s), if any.(1) Unfortunately, many times a current law found in a codified section has its roots in the Revised Civil Statutes and the historical note usually does not provide the Civil Statutes citation. Luckily, there are conversion tables at the front of the codified statutes that cross-reference code provisions with their former article numbers in the Revised Civil Statutes.

Where to Look

Start your research with the earliest version of the statute that interests you, as printed in the Historical Notes. The superseded Texas statute volumes and pocket-parts are in the Law Library's Central Basement. The codified statutes are in alphabetical and chronological order by code, and the specific code’s supplements begin after the last volume of that code. Examine all editions of your codified statute and then examine the supplements for each subseqent year to ensure that you have viewed all of our holdings regarding your specific statute. (Note: See Bound Supplements below for very important exceptions.)


  • Note: The Revised Civil Statues exist to this day, as the codification process is not yet complete. Therefore, at the very end of the Revised Civil Statutes are various supplements, organized chronologically and by subject matter and article number. Make sure you check these supplements as well. In sum, you should start at the earliest version of your law in every edition of the Revised Civil Statutes or beforehand, and then year by year through the supplements.

A Note Regarding Exceptions

  1. Independent Codes: The Revised Civil Statutes also include four independent codes that have not yet been included in the subject matter codification. These independent codes are the Texas Business Corporations Act, The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the Texas Insurance Code (partial), and the Texas Probate Code. According to the Texas Rules of Form, these independent codes are to be replaced by revised versions that will form part of the present subject matter codification. All are to be found in the Revised Civil Statutes alphabetically, with the exception of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which is to be found at the very end of the codified section with the Penal Code.
  2. Texas Constitution: The Texas Constitution is included in Vernon’s, although it is essentially a separate entity. All of our Texas Constitution holdings and their supplements are contained with our codified statutes.
  3. Auxiliary Laws: Auxiliary Laws are yet another exception to the codification process. According to the Texas Rules of Form, auxiliary laws are special and local laws that were neither repealed nor incorporated into the codification system, but were merely printed in separate publications that accompany the code. Examples are Education Auxiliary Laws and Water Auxiliary Laws. They are to be found alphabetically with the codified statutes.
  4. Bound Supplements: Finally, some supplements in the codified section have been bound together alphabetically by year (e.g., Education to Natural Resources 1992), while some have not and sit at the end of that particular codified provision. To ensure that you have looked through all of our holdings, we recommend that you check the end of your particular code for any individual supplements that might be there, and then at the end of the codified section, by year and by subject matter.


(1)You will also be provided with the statute’s chapter number and section from the General and Special Laws of Texas, which are located in Bay 2-A of the library. The General and Special Laws of Texas citation contains the original text of the law as signed by the governor, but before placement in Vernon’s. As an example, a typical House or Senate bill will be about a number of subjects, some having absolutely nothing to do with each other. The bill is then cut and pasted and included in the current Vernon’s by corresponding subject matter. Therefore, if the bill had to do with establishing a new statute of limitations for contractual disputes, it would be placed in the Civil Practice and Remedies Code (or if pre-Civil Practice and Remedies Code, then in that section of the Revised Civil Statutes having to do with the statute of limitations). If another part of the bill had to do with the criminal offense of kidnapping (i.e., nothing to do with the statute of limitations for contractual disputes), then that section would be cut and pasted into the Penal Code.