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Law: QuickStart Guide

This guide is intended to serve as a starting point for finding legal information and is intended for public library users and librarians.

Legal Blogs & Podcasts

Legal Feeds & Blogs from LOC

Links from the Law Library Division of The Library of Congress to RSS feeds and Email Subscriptions.

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Legal News Websites - Keyword or Topic

Jurist is one source for keeping up with national legal news of interest.

Search for news by topic or keyword using the links below.

Massachusetts Laws in the News

For recent legislation, search the Session Laws which are arranged in chronological order.  For current bills before the Massachusetts General Court (legislature), click on Bills Search.  Sign up to receive a free State House newsletter called MASSterList.

For a specific day's legislative information, search the Senate and House Journals.

Cases in the News

Federal News

USA.gov

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Historical News

The main index generally covers the years 1878-1937, although there are selected entries for earlier and later dates. Entries include obituaries, coverage of political events, speeches, dedications, visits of foreign dignitaries and general news events. The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Journal, and Boston Transcript were indexed most consistently, although there are entries for other newspapers as well. A later index, covering the years 1960 to 1983, includes articles from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald which are primarily political or governmental in nature.

Legal Periodicals Searching

Use the advanced search feature in Gale's Academic OneFile database to limit search to legal journals.  Also try Google Advanced Scholar Search for searching legal journals. If you have a Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries library card, search HeinOnline.

What's New or Timely

Reserve a museum pass!

Bradford's Manuscript "Of Plimouth Plantation"

at the Massachusetts State Library.  The Chronology begins in 1630:

  Bradford begins writing “Of Plimoth Plantation,” a detailed history of the founding of Plymouth Colony and the lives of the colonists from 1621 to 1647. Bradford writes his last notes in the volume in 1650. 

Bradford's Manuscript "Of Plimoth Plantation" | Mass.gov

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Thanksgiving Resolutions

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Congress Establishes Thanksgiving

On September 28, 1789, just before leaving for recess, the first Federal Congress passed a resolution asking that the President of the United States recommend to the nation a day of thanksgiving. A few days later, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a "Day of Publick Thanksgivin" - the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution. Subsequent presidents issued Thanksgiving Proclamations, but the dates and even months of the celebrations varied. It wasn't until President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation that Thanksgiving was regularly commemorated each year on the last Thursday of November.

In 1939, however, the last Thursday in November fell on the last day of the month. Concerned that the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen the economic recovery, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a Presidential Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November. As a result of the proclamation, 32 states issued similar proclamations while 16 states refused to accept the change and proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November. For two years two days were celebrated as Thanksgiving - the President and part of the nation celebrated it on the second to last Thursday in November, while the rest of the country celebrated it the following week.

To end the confusion, Congress decided to set a fixed-date for the holiday. On October 6, 1941, the House passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal Thanksgiving Day. The Senate, however, amended the resolution establishing the holiday as the fourth Thursday, which would take into account those years when November has five Thursdays. The House agreed to the amendment, and President Roosevelt signed the resolution on December 26, 1941, thus establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the Federal Thanksgiving Day holiday.

CDC Guidelines for Thanksgiving

Massachusetts Travel Form

What Happens After the Voting Ends? Steps (Plus a Map) to Complete an Election

City of Newton Unofficial Results 

Massachusetts Statewide Office Elections Schedule, 2020-2028.  Get a head start!  Chart showing which years Massachusetts and national election cycles fall.

United States Senate Elections, 2020

About the Electoral College The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)  and a fun look at the process from The National Geographic Society's History & Culture / Explainer

HELP WITH LEGAL ISSUES

 

DialALawyer

Massachusetts Bar Association's Dial-A-Lawyer

Call (617) 338-0610 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Dial-A-Lawyer is monthly on the first Wednesday

2020: November 4 ; December 2

2021:  January 6 ; February 3 ; March 3

Massachusetts Law About COVID-19 from the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

MassLegalHelp.org for  help with Massachusetts legal issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic

Massachusetts Court System.  Emergency Guidance regarding Virtual Court Hearings

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Update

Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC): MLAC Statement on Confirmation of Kimberly Budd as SJC Chief Justice

Need Legal Help?  Try MLAC's List of Legal Resources During the Pandemic  Quick links for legal help during the pandemic.

New! Trial Court Help Line The Help Line will be staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Call 833-91COURT (912-6878)

If you need to hire a lawyer:

  1. Get an instant online referral here
  2. Call us to speak to a trained LRS representative*
  3. (Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.) at (617) 654-0400 or (866) 627-7577

Mass Legal Services

Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder

The Legal Resource Finder search results will give you contact information for legal aid programs, nonprofits, government agencies and court programs that may be able to help you with your legal issue for free or at a low cost. It will also give you links to legal information and self-help materials.  Click a tab for English, Portuguese (Português), or Spanish (Español)

 

Massachusetts: Virtual Court Services court users can receive face-to-face virtual assistance from court staff while remaining in the safety of their own homes.  Help with Housing, Land, Middlesex  Juvenile, Probate & Family Courts and much more.

Expiration of Moratorium on Evictions & Foreclosures.  Helpful links for renters, homeowners, & landlords.

AALL Logo

American Association of Law Libraries.  Public Library Toolkit. Beginning with a section on general legal research, scroll down for STATE-SPECIFIC PUBLIC LIBRARY TOOLKITS.  Click on the state you need, example: Massachusetts

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If you would like to use Ask a Law Librarian a question, you may chat, send an email, or request a document.

Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries Document Delivery Service 

Locations and Contact Information for Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

Social Law Library

New! Ask  your Massachusetts public librarian to search Social Law Library databases

Massachusetts Public Libraries: LIBRARIANS LOGIN ONLY.

 

MASSterList - your go-to source for Massachusetts political news and commentary. Every day.

MASSterList.  News stories from Beacon Hill.  ALSO: Job Seekers: On Mondays, check the Job Board Listings!

In Your Opinion

Want to write an op ed or letter to the editor?  Try this box for guidelines and contact information.

Massachusetts Legal Newspaper

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly ONLINE is available on Newton Free Library online with our e-journal logon, and through Gales's Massachusetts History Online (Gale)

  Date restrictions apply for accessing full text.  Allow 6 weeks for current issues.  Database begins with 2001.

HeinOnline is available with a Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries library card.  You must apply in person for a library card.

Look for IMPORTANT OPINIONS OF THE WEEK on the front page column on Monday's print format.

THOMAS (Library of Congress) Daily Digest

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