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Pennsylvania Statutory Research: Short Explanation

This guide reviews the history and current status of the Pennsylvania statutory codification project, and lists electronic and print options for Pennsylvania statutory research.

Short Explanation of Pennsylvania Statutory Codification Project

1. Until 1970, there was no official legal code in Pennsylvania, meaning that the government did not publish an organized listing of the laws currently in force. Instead, legal researchers used an unofficial statutory compilation called Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated (also known as Purdon's or Pennsylvania Statutes).

2. In 1970, the Pennsylvania General Assembly started creating a new statutory code: the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

3. The Pennsylvania statutory codification project is ongoing. Some statutes remain in the Pennsylvania Statutes, and some have been transferred to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The project will continue indefinitely.

4. Individuals researching Pennsylvania statutory law must search both the Pennsylvania Statutes and the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. This can be accomplished by searching both databases simultaneously. Researchers can also use the index provided in Westlaw's Pennsylvania Statutes Annotated database and the print versions of the Purdon’s Pennsylvania Statutes and Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Annotated.

5. It is important for researchers to note whether the statute is codified in the Pennsylvania Statutes or the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. The citations are not interchangeable. Example: 3 P.S. § 2104 is not the same as 3 Pa.C.S. § 2104. For guidance on citing Pennsylvania statutes, see the Pennsylvania section in Table T1 of the Bluebook (U.S. Jurisdictions).