you know that Thanksgiving Day is designated as a public holiday by federal
law? Under 5 U.S.C. §6103, there are ten days recognized as legal public holidays by the federal
government. For those of us who love our turkey with all the fixins, it is
certainly good news that Thanksgiving Day is protected by federal statute!
you were likely already familiar with the list of federal holidays, you might
not know that most states also have their own statutes recognizing state legal holidays.
These statutes tend to include the major federal public holidays, but they also
include unique days in honor of important individuals in each state’s history.
One way to quickly locate these holiday statutes is by utilizing a fifty-state
survey. This blog post will walk you through using a variety of databases to
locate fifty-state surveys.
is a fifty-state survey, and why is it useful?
surveys are surveys of state law, usually of statutes or regulations, on
specific legal topics. If you are tasked with researching the law in multiple
jurisdictions, or if you are working on comparative legal research, a
fifty-state survey is an efficient way to locate relevant law.
UNC Law students have access to a variety of different databases that all
provide fifty-state surveys. In today’s blog post, I will be using the surveys
in HeinOnline, Lexis Plus, and Westlaw Edge to search for a fifty-state survey
that outlines state holiday statutes.
offers two databases containing fifty-state surveys. The National
Survey of State Laws, provides an overview of “sought-after and
controversial legal topics in the United States.” This collection can be
navigated either by legal practice area or topic. Each topic is connected to a
fifty-state survey that lists the relevant state statutes and typically
provides summaries of the law.
for me, this collection offers a handy fifty-state survey on “Legal Holidays,” which includes the relevant statutory code citations and lists of recognized
second database of fifty-state surveys, Subject Compilations of State Laws, is for those researchers looking for more abstract
or not-so-easily classified surveys. This collection allows you to either browse
a large index of terms or to search using your own key terms. It then runs your
search against thousands of articles, books, government documents, loose-leaf
services, court opinions, and websites for any fifty-state surveys on your area
of interest. This database identifies fifty-state surveys completed as a part
of larger projects, so it is a powerful catch-all tool for locating these
this blog post, I ran a basic keyword search for “holidays”
and received nearly sixty survey sources from resources as different as tax
treatises and human resource manuals. I can see that legal holidays surveys are
included in my search results.
Edge & Lexis Plus
Edge has a dedicated space for fifty-state statutory and regulatory surveys, located in the left-hand sidebar of its Statutes
& Court Rules content page and in its Secondary Sources content page. You can also access fifty-state surveys by searching "50 state surveys" in the main search bar. (Search Tip: Using the number "50" is important! If you try to search by spelling out "fifty," you will not have access to the keyword search bar to build your own searches!)
surveys available through Westlaw Edge are curated for complex legal
research issues, and I was unable to find one specifically outlining state
holidays. However, you can run advanced keyword searches or use their topic structure to browse through available surveys.
Plus also offers users access to fifty-state surveys on statutes and regulations. The surveys are organized topically, and Lexis allows
you to search within the surveys using the main keyword search box. I ran a search for “holidays” and received fourteen search results highlighting
possible surveys from banking, employment, and healthcare law. This was a broad
search that returned some unrelated content, but my most relevant search result
- “Legal and Bank Holidays” survey - was on point.
Finally, Lexis and Westlaw also both offer tools that allow you to construct your own fifty state surveys. Be sure to try out Lexis's State Law Comparison Tool or Westlaw's State Q&A Comparison Toolto create your own targeted surveys.
Conference of State Legislators
it would not be a survey of fifty-state survey databases if I didn’t mention a
free resource. The National
Conference of State Legislators is one of the best free outlets for fifty-state surveys. In addition to
offering fifty-state surveys on a variety of topical areas of interest, the
NCSL also offers fifty-state searchable bill tracking. This feature allows you to monitor the progress of
pending legislation on specific topics across the United States.
quick review of fifty-state surveys on legal holidays reassured me that, yes,
Thanksgiving Day is statutorily recognized as a legal holiday in all fifty
states. So fear not, UNC law students! No matter where you practice in the
United States, you will likely always enjoy a holiday on Thanksgiving Day!
Posted by Melissa M. Hyland on Tue. November 17, 2020 10:00 AM