Vicki’s Note – Diane Hadad article from Family Tree Magazine 9-1-2016:
Knowing Old Laws Helps With Genealogy!
“To understand the records, we must understand the law,” says Judy G. Russell, a board-certified genealogist with a legal degree who’s also a blogger and a sought-after genealogy presenter. (I’ve seen her speak. Uh. Maze. Ing.)
For example, could your great-great-grandmother legally file for divorce? On what grounds? Where would she file? Would she retain custody of the children? Understanding laws can help you determine what records may exist, locate them, and discern what they reveal about your ancestor’s situation.
One of Judy’s search tips for finding the laws governing your ancestors’ records: the Library of Congress’ online collection A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. It gives you access to acts of US Congress from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention through the 43rd Congress in 1873-75.