Published on January 17, 2022  
On Monday, Jan. 17, 2022, Samford University will be closed in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The federal holiday, which was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, is celebrated every third Monday in January (to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King, who was born on Jan. 15, 1929). The bill to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday as a national holiday was first introduced just days after his death in 1968.  HeinOnline  is one of the many law library resources that can be explored to gain a better understanding of the 15-year journey that the bill took in order to become law.
HeinOnline is an online database service that contains approximately 270,000 titles that cover historical and government information. The documents found within the database are image-based and fully searchable. A small sample of the many collections that are found within HeinOnline include the Law Journal Library, the John F. Kennedy Assassination Collection, the Code of Federal Regulations, the U.S. Presidential Library, and the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library. The collections can be searched one at a time, or they can be searched all at once.  The U.S. Congressional Documents collection is a good place to start for information that relates to the legislative history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents collection includes the Congressional Record, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, Committee Prints, Congressional Hearings, and other Congressional documents. Performing a search for “Martin Luther King Jr. holiday” within the collection produces results that include hearings, proclamations, remarks, and explanations of votes (both against the holiday and in favor of the holiday). Exploring the documents provides interesting insight into how the work of Dr. King was viewed by elected officials.  Also, the documents provide insight into how Congress decided who was worthy of a national holiday. Cumberland students and faculty can gain access to this information within HeinOnline by using their Samford-assigned usernames and passwords.
In addition to HeinOnline,, the official website for United States federal legislative information, can be a good resource for locating legislative history that is relevant to Martin Luther King Jr. Day (coverage dates vary by information type). Also, the website provides useful videos that explain the legislative process.
It is important to note that, for the last 25 years, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been celebrated as a national day of service.  Additional resources about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. can be found by searching the law library’s online catalog and collection of databases.
(Note: The original version of this post was first published on Jan. 19, 2020.)