polly-building-at-sunset-crp2Hello from the State of Arizona Research Library! We are delighted to help answer your research questions on a variety of topics including law, legislation and legislative history, genealogy, and state and federal government.  While we can help you locate information on legal issues, we cannot provide legal advice.  Some of our resources can be accessed only by visiting the Reading Room in the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building at 1901 W. Madison. Thousands of others can be accessed 24 x 7 x 365 through the Arizona Memory Project.

The resources on our blog may not be comprehensive, but will lead you to additional resources through our library. If there is a topic that is not addressed here you can contact us here. Happy researching!


Arizona Legislature Lingo and Abbreviations

3rd Read? Do pass? COW?

What’s really going on at the Legislature?

25th Territorial Legislature Council

The Arizona Legislature has its own lingo and abbreviations. Here is a flow chart we find helpful to track legislation and understand what’s going on during the legislative session and with the introduced bills.

Remember, we have a treasure trove of materials on legislation – including Session Laws from before Statehood, Journals of legislative action for both the House and Senate, introduced bills, and many years of bill files. Contact us for research help!

Arizona State Legislature in session

Legislative process and abbreviations

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

Box 5

Box 6

Box 7

Box 8

Box 9

Makes sense, right!? This flow chart is a little more advanced than the Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” clip we learned legislative process from as kids!

Here are a few more pictures of our State legislators and staff in action through the years, completing the process outlined above!

Secretaries or attaches for the Arizona State Legislature
Arizona State Legislature in session
Members of the 1912, First State Legislature
Legislature in session in the Arizona State Capitol


You’re Under Citizen’s Arrest!

Wait, is citizen’s arrest really a thing??

Well, yes. But be careful with that…

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) §13-3884 states:

13-3884. Arrest by private person

A private person may make an arrest:

  1. When the person to be arrested has in his presence committed a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace, or a felony.
  2. When a felony has been in fact committed and he has reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed it.

So it has to be a misdemeanor that breached the peace or a felony and you know who did it.

I.W.W. Deportations 1917 “Striker Resisting Arrest”

A.R.S. §3889 requires you to announce the arrest…unless you don’t have to:

13-3889. Method of arrest by private person

A private person when making an arrest shall inform the person to be arrested of the intention to arrest him and the cause of the arrest, unless he is then engaged in the commission of an offense, or is pursued immediately after its commission or after an escape, or flees or forcibly resists before the person making the arrest has opportunity so to inform him, or when the giving of such information will imperil the arrest.

Photograph of the fingerprints of Ernesto Miranda from his booking sheet, Phoenix Police, Phoenix (Ariz.)

Clear enough?
No. Not at all.

There’s more:

13-3900. Duty of private person after making arrest

A private person who has made an arrest shall without unnecessary delay take the person arrested before the nearest or most accessible magistrate in the county in which the arrest was made, or deliver him to a peace officer, who shall without unnecessary delay take him before such magistrate. The private person or officer so taking the person arrested before the magistrate shall make before the magistrate a complaint, which shall set forth the facts showing the offense for which the person was arrested. If, however, the officer cannot make the complaint, the private person who delivered the person arrested to the officer shall accompany the officer before the magistrate and shall make to the magistrate the complaint against the person arrested.

Photograph of a group of prisoners in striped uniforms at the Arizona State Prison in Florence (Ariz.)

So, next you need to take the person you arrested to an officer and explain what happened. Then, you need to explain it to the judge. Apparently you shouldn’t make a citizen’s arrest if you’re in a hurry.

Arizona Code 1939

Or angry.

The Arizona Attorney General interpreted the provisions in Attorney General Opinion I85-048. It concluded that a citizen making an arrest could be charged with a crime or be sued for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, negligence, and violation of civil rights. The opinion notes that the provisions have been applied to the actions of security guards and law enforcement outside their jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, the provisions remain a part of Arizona law, where they’ve been since 1939 (Arizona Code §44-125). It seems that this law isn’t going anywhere.




Christmas Through The Years in Arizona

How Arizona has celebrated Christmas tells us as much about our state history as it does the holiday’s more universal symbols. A quick tour through our historic newspapers finds stories of church, trees, masquerades, gifts, Santa Claus, and cheer happening in ways that could only take place in our state.


Christmas 1920
Bisbee Daily Review, 1920-12-15, CHRISTMAS EDITION

The Weekly Arizona Miner-Prescott-1878

140 years ago, Prescott chronicled a visit from Santa Clause, with gifts for between two and three hundred children. “Some of the older ones also received valuable presents and immediately forgot their childhood days were things of the past,” the Miner reported. The 12th Infantry Band provided music. Among these celebrations, the paper also noted a soldier “partaking of the good things generally yesterday , including egg-nog and perhaps something stronger in the line of ‘O be Joyful’”. He later mistook a private residence for Ft. Whipple and demanded entry.

Salt River Herald-Salt River Valley-1878

Meanwhile, in Phoenix, the Salt River Herald reported on the Christmas tree at public schools, crowded church services, private parties, and turkey shoots and horse races. A ball took place at Smith & Stroud’s hall.

Christmas 1913
Arizona Republican 1913-12-25

Arizona Weekly Citizen-Tucson-1888

Ten years later, the Arizona Citizen in Tucson noted their city celebrated “appropriately”, detailing local church celebrations as well as a gathering of the Southern Pacific Library Association at the Masonic hall, with gas lamps dimmed to let the tree’s lit candles flicker.

The Argus-Holbrook-1898

120 years Holbrook saw a masquerade ball by both adults and children. The Argus reported on two masquerade balls. The children’s party lasted from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. “The little folks were attired in a variety of costumes, some beautiful, and some very ludicrous.”  The “fun ran high” until 9 p.m. Later, in the same hall, a party for the adults began at 11 and continued with dancing until 3 a.m.

Christmas 1915
Arizona Republican, 1915-12-25


Arizona Republican-Phoenix-1898

At the same time, if you wanted to do some shopping for the holidays in Phoenix, you could do so at the New York Store. If the name is unfamiliar, note that it was run by Sam Korrick and would be Korrick’s shortly thereafter.

Arizona Republican-Phoenix-1918

Overindulging in the holidays had not ceased when the Republican reported three men “wrapped in the arms of Bacchus” narrowly escaped a building burning in 1898. The fire, in the back of a shoe shop at 13 Wall Street, was probably caused by a lit cigarette. The men got rescued, the  fire put out, and the paper noted cause and consequence: “… their condition was due to potent libations they had consumed in an heroic endeavor to usher in the Yuletide in a fitting and proper manner. They will be arraigned in the city court this afternoon.”

Bisbee Daily Review, 1915-12-19, CHRISTMAS EDITION




Researching the Old Legal Stuff

YaleWe recently purchased The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History, a new resource to help you find historical legal information that is very specialized or pre-dates the information that is readily available online. Some of the resources are digitized, and some only in print. It is available to use in the Reading Room at the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building.

For example, if you are looking for the laws on witchcraft, this source tells you step-by-step how to find them. Witchcraft was originally designated as a felony in the United Kingdom and carried the death penalty. Later revisions passed by Queen Elizabeth I reduced the severity of the penalty if nobody got hurt. This change enabled herbalists to practice their craft. Maybe this was the origin of the No Harm, No Foul standard.

Yale TOC

Later chapters address later eras. Apparently practice manuals were widely used in the Colonial era by justices, officials, and educated citizens. Some states had constitutions that predated the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and this reference has information on both, as well information on how to access statutes and cases from the early days of the Republic. Later chapters explain how the Reporter system for publishing case law was a pioneering innovation, how to do archival research, searching administrative law, and the advent of legal forms.


DictionariesAnother chapter discusses how international law and treaties affect U.S. law. Another introduces the use of dictionaries and biographical sources. The book concludes with tips for researching newspapers, statistical resources, and public records.

If you don’t know where to find the historical legal topic you are researching, we may just look here first!

Become a Dentist, Avoid Jury Duty!

Well, not anymore. It was true in 1913, though. Section 4766 of the 1913 Civil Code stated:

dentist 1913


The exemption did not apply to medical doctors or optometrists, who were also regulated by the 1913 Code. However, Section 4810 made pharmacists exempt from jury Dentist 1duty too.

Although the provisions regulating dentistry were amended multiple times, the jury duty exemption didn’t appear again. The legislative practice at the time seems to have been to repeal entire articles and adopt new language rather than amend existing laws. That’s what happened at Laws 1929, Chapter 11 (pp. 23-32 {81-90}) and again at Laws 1935, Chapter 24 (pp. 42-57 {102-117}).

The pharmacists still had their exemption in 1935 (Laws 1935, Chapter 25, §23 {p. 87 [147]}), in 1951 (Laws 1951, Chapter 73 {pp. 172-195 [220-243]}), and in the 1952 Supplement to the 1939 Code (Section 67-1524), but it disappeared when the Arizona Revised Statutes was compiled in 1956 and the provisions governing pharmacists were renumbered to appear where they do now, starting at A.R.S. §§32-1901. You can read the Session Laws and the Journals that record legislative action here.

dentist 2Dentists are now regulated by the Board of Dental Examiners. The statutes start at Arizona Revised Statutes §§32-1201. In addition, regulatory rules add details to the licensing procedure and include other professions related to dentistry.

As you can see from these old ads from the 1955-1956 Arizona Dental Journal, dentistry has changed a lot. You can see some of those changes by viewing the regulations from 1974 in our collection, the Substantive Policy Statements from the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, and the Procedural Reviews from the Arizona Office of the Auditor General.


Meet Rosa McKay: Champion of Women’s Rights & Minimum Wage

Rosa McKay.jpgBorn in Colorado in 1880/1881 and a resident of Arizona beginning in 1904, Mrs. McKay (as she was known to her colleagues and in legislative records of the time) served 3 terms as a member in the Arizona House of Representatives. In those years, the Legislature customarily met in alternating years, and McKay represented Cochise County in 1917 and Gila County in 1919 and 1923.

Rosa McKay is best known for securing the passage of a minimum wage act for women. She introduced it for the first time as a new legislator in 1917. House Bill 3 provided that women must be paid a weekly wage of at least $10. It was signed into law by Governor Thomas E Campbell on March 8, 1917.

The enactment of the legislation was celebrated with sandwiches. As noted in the Journal of the House, p. 542 (pp. 1165-1166 of PDF):


The law was published in the Session Laws as Laws 1917, Chapter 38 (pp. 51-52) but was challenged and struck down.

Rosa McKay was undeterred. She introduced it again in 1919, revising the minimum wage to $20 per week. H. B. 5 failed in the House. She tried again in 1923. House Bill 36, setting a wage of $16 per week, was adopted and published as Laws 1923, Chapter 3 (pp. 6-7). Violations were punishable by a fine of not less than $50 or imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 10 days. However, in April 1923, the United State Supreme Court ruled that minimum wage laws were unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Rosa McKay was fondly remembered in Arizona, credited for the minimum wage law and other measures championing social issues.

Rosa McKay ObituaryIn 1923 she was a candidate for Speaker of the House, but withdrew in favor of Dan Jones of Maricopa County “in the best interests of Democracy and the State of Arizona”. In addition, she served for 8 years on the Board of Visitors of Tempe Normal School (which later became Arizona State University), as a member of the Child Welfare Board, and as a delegate to the national convention in New York City. She was awarded an honorary membership of the Boy Scouts of America.

She died at age 53 in 1934. The state flag was lowered to half-staff in her honor.

Murderous Weaver, Arizona

Weaver 11-30-1898 (2)

On November 30, 1898, the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner reported on the murder and robbery of William Segna, an Austrian saloonkeeper in Weaver, a mining town by then notorious for crime and murders. Approximately $440 of gold and cash were stolen, which translates to over $11,000 in today’s dollars. This particular murder caused several newspapers, even the Arizona Republican in Phoenix, to call for the town’s dissolution!

Weaver Arizona Republican 12-1898 (2)

Other papers carrying the story noted a list of murders that took place in the town’s bloody history: “The murders of the Martin family, Stanton, Gribble, Verdier, and many others, the numerous stage hold ups, robbery and a general chapter of criminal lawlessness, has given Weaver a stain that time cannot wipe away.”

weaver proclamation


Five months later, no one had been arrested for the murder. Territorial Governor Nathan Oakes Murphy offered a $300 reward (roughly $8000 in today’s dollars) for the arrest of the perpetrator(s), which was published in the April 19, 1899 Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner.





Weaver- Lucero image


Vicento Lucero would stand trial in Prescott for Segna’s murder in June of 1899, and was sentenced to natural life in Yuma Territorial Prison and later transferred to Florence. Petitions for his pardon began circulating in Maricopa and Yavapai counties in 1911 and he would eventually be pardoned in 1915.  He possibly shows up in the 1930 census, living in Congress, having outlasted prison and Weaver.


weaver parole


Despite the demands to close up Weaver, a post office would still be established in 1899, but that lasted only 11 months until moving south to Octave. The town was originally known as Weaverville, but was later shortened. It was named for scout Pauline Weaver, and was east of Stanton and north of Octave, around Rich Hill. The ghost town of Weaver is located about 18 miles north of Wickenburg, Arizona. Weaver was deserted by 1900, and is one of several Arizona ghost towns.  A few crumbling buildings remain unwiped by time today.

For more information Weaver and the surrounding towns, we have several books in our Arizona Collection.



Anderson, P. (2013) Cemeteries of Yavapai County. Charleston, South Carolina : Arcadia.

The Weaver Murder. (1898, November 30). Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner. Retrieved from the Arizona Memory Project:  http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/sn85032938/id/3337

To Wipe out Weaver. (1898, December 2). The Arizona Republican. Retrieved from the Arizona Memory Project:   http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/sn84020558/id/60569

Moving for Parole of Vicente Lucero. (1911, July 20). Arizona Republican. Retrieved from the Arizona Memory Project:   http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/sn84020558/id/15572/rec/1

Ter-Nedden, D. (n.a.). Weaver, Arizona Ghost Town [Website] . Retrieved from: http://www.ghosttowngallery.com/htme/weaver.htm

Proclamation of Reward. (1899, April 19). Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner. Retrieved from the Arizona Memory Project:   http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/sn85032938/id/3438/rec/11

Seeking a Pardon for Vicente Lucero. (1911, May 28) The Arizona Republican. Retrieved from the Arizona Memory Project:   http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/digital/collection/sn84020558/id/14754