Historic Codes of Mississippi

Early codes of Mississippi were local efforts by extraordinary judges and attorneys talented in the art of organizing law into practical subjects. This huge undertaking required a systematic mind, great attention to detail, and a broad understanding of law.

The present Mississippi Code Annotated (1972) is the seventeenth official code starting with the territorial period (1798 to 1817) and continuing into statehood (since 1817). What follows is a gallery of title pages from early codes kept in the Special Collections Room of the State Law Library. Although the codes do not circulate outside the Gartin Justice Building, these significant books are available for research purposes within the Special Collections Room.

Historical information is provided for most of the codes. These brief histories were extracted verbatim from a speech in 1926 by Judge Robert Harvey Thompson presented to the annual meeting of the Mississippi State Bar Association. Judge Thompson helped in the compiling of the Annotated Code of 1892, and his important comments reflect the insight and sensitivity of a person who had experienced such an enormous task.

Also, enjoy Judge Thompson's accounts of revision efforts that never reached the adoption stage. These are found in separate articles entitled A Code that Died Aborning, 1833 and A Proposed Code that Did Not Materialize, 1865.

View Mississippi Codes from 1799 until 1839
View Mississippi Codes from 1840 until 1880
View Mississippi Codes from 1892 until 1942
View all Mississippi Codes from 1799 until 1942 [Slow to load without a fast connection.]

View Robert Harvey Thompson's histories only.

View individual codes by date: 1799, 1807, 1816, 1823, 1833, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1848, 1857, 1865, 1871, 1880, 1892, 1906, 1917, 1921, 1927, 1930, 1942.

Many of the State Library's old codes were used in the chambers of former justices of the Supreme Court, and the inscriptions and marginal notes are just as interesting as the actual contents. For example, on the inside cover of Poindexter's Code, the State Librarian in 1888, Mary Morancy, noted that the book was purchased from Mrs. H. H. Chalmers and only one other copy of Poindexter's Code existed in the State Library. Justice Hamilton Henderson Chalmers served as a justice on the Court from 1876 until his death on January 3, 1885. He is buried across the street from the State Law Library in Greenwood Cemetery. Fortunately both copies of Poindexter's Code remain in the Library today. Also, Justice George H. Ethridge recorded the following red-letter date in his Hemingway's Code of 1917: "The first Court held in the New Capitol was on Oct. 12, 1903."