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Researching Superseded Versions of the Utah Code

One of the most popular research requests we get at our library is for superseded Utah Codes - what the law looked like before the current version. The Utah State Law Library has a complete collection of superseded Utah Codes starting with Compiled Laws of Utah (1876), as well as Utah's session laws dating back to 1851.

Figuring Out the Life Story of a Statute
Every statute has a story to tell. To trace a statute's history you'll need an annotated Utah code, in print or online. Look for the history information provided after the text of the law. Note that the version of the Utah Code provided on the Legislature's website is unannotated, and only provides information about the most recent amendment to the law.

Code VersionHistory Information for §73-3-25
Utah Code AnnotatedHistory: R.S. 1933, 100-3-25, added by L. 1937, ch. 130, § 2; 1941, ch. 96, §1; C. 1943, 100-3-25; L. 1987, ch. 25, § 3; 1987, ch. 161, § 297, 2004 ch. 191, § 3; 2008, ch. 282, § 3; 2008, ch. 382 § 2144.
West’s Utah Code AnnotatedLaws 1937, c. 130, § 2; Laws 1941, c. 96, §1; Laws 1987, c. 25, § 3; 1987, c. 161, § 297; Laws 2004 c. 191 § 3, eff. May 3, 2004; Laws 2008, c. 282, § 3 eff. May 5, 2008; Laws 2008, c. 382 § 2144, eff. May 5, 2008.

Codifications: R.S. 1933, § 100-3-25; C. 1943, § 100-3-25.

Although the abbreviations and format used in the two annotated codes vary slightly, they both convey the same information:
  • This section was originally enacted in 1937 as chapter 130, section 2
  • The section previously appeared in the 1933 Revised Statutes as section 100-3-25
  • The section was amended in 1941
  • The section was amended in 1987 by two different session laws
  • The section was amended in 2004
  • The section was amended in 2008 by two different session laws

Annotations provide other useful information including a summary of the changes from the most recent amendment to the law, notes of Utah appellate court decisions which interpret the law, and cross-references.

Sometimes the History Notes Aren't Enough
In most cases the history line provides a complete history of the statute from its enactment to its current version. However, statutes can be renumbered, or repealed and re-enacted, and these actions are not always reflected in the history notes or other annotations. If you think the law existed before the stated enactment date, look at superseded code volumes older than the purported enactment date, or at the enacting session law to see if there's any mention of the legislature moving the chapter or section to a different part of the code.

Law library staff have other tricks up their sleeves too, so don't hesitate to ask for help!


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