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Law Library of Congress How do I Find....?
Law Librarian's Society of D.C. Questions and Answers in Legislative and Regulatory Research
The history of the United States and its government is richly documented in government publications from the earliest times to the present. The Washington State University Libraries were granted selective depository status in 1907 but have a government documents collection that reaches back to the beginning of the United States. Locating documents is not always straightforward but with improved online searching tools and electronic full-text availability it has become easier to find the documents you need.
Government documents received from 1976 forward were entered into the Libraries' catalog, Search It.
For pre-1976 documents try searching the catalog because many older documents are being digitized and cataloged. If the item for which you are searching is not in the catalog, 1) use a catalog, index, or finding aid (see the suggestions on this LibGuide) to get the title, authoring agency, year, and other pertinent information; 2) ask a reference librarian for help in finding the document(s) in our tangible collection, in electronic format, or through interlibrary loan.
For help finding Congressional documents such as bills, hearings, reports, and legislative histories use the guide, "United States Congressional Publications in WSU Libraries." See the lists and links below for detailed assistance.
Core Documents of United States Democracy The Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, and other fundamental documents of the country.
FDsys (dates vary) GPO's federal digital system, an archive and full-text source for publications from the 3 branches of government. Older materials are being added continuously.
ProQuest Congressional (dates vary) (WSU only) U.S. Congressional publications including hearings, bill text, legislative histories, voting records, calendars, and more. Congressional publications searchable from 1789- ; legislative histories, bills, laws searchable from 1980's-
1994- , 104th Cong.- Holland & Terrell Docs Y 1.1/3: FDsys
1789-1879, 1913-1921, 1st-45th Cong., 63rd-66th Cong. Holland Microforms (cabinet 21) "TSD Microfilm 1892" (House bills); "TSD Microfilm 1898" (Senate bills)
1979- , 96th Cong.- Holland Microfiche Y 1.4/1-9 Latest in Holland Reference Microfiche Collection, earlier in Holland Microforms. To locate bill use Finding Aid for Congressional Bills and Resolutions, located in Holland and Terrell Libraries Reference Docs GP 3.28. Ask for assistance from the Reference Desk.
1993- , 103rd Cong.- FDsy
Congressional Committee Hearings
1869-1934, 41st-73rd Cong. Holland Microforms "Pre-1935 Congressional Hearings" microfiche
Viewed as internal background information publications for Senate and House Committees on topics related to their legislative or research activities.
1830's-1969, -91st Cong. Incomplete collection of committee prints by SuDoc number, shelved in federal documents stacks, Holland Library stacks 800-824 on 3rd floor. To identify them use the CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Prints Index in Terrell Reference J74.C66x 1980
1970-1992, 91st-102nd Cong. Complete committee prints holdings on Congressional Information Service microfiche, Holland Microforms KF49.C62 C58x
1993- , 103rd Cong.- Committee prints on microfiche by SuDoc number, shelved in Holland Microforms; searchable in library catalog
1995- , 104th Cong.- FDsys
American State Papers and Serial Set (Senate and House Reports, Senate and House Documents)
1789-1838 American State Papers Congressional documents from the first 14 congresses (1789-1816) and some additional years are known as the American State Papers. Records are not complete due to the Capitol fire of 1814 and the lack of record-keeping. Holland and Terrell Libraries Locked Compact Storage: Serial nos. 01-038; Hol Doc Y [serial no.]; fill out a request card at the Circulation Desk (24-hour turnaround); 2 hr. checkout
1774-1789 Journals of the Continental Congress. Washington: Government Printing Office 1904-37. Holland and Terrell Libraries Locked Storage A1508, a reprint copy under Holland Doc LC 4.5:1968. Online copy in the American Memory Collection
1789- Congressional Record and predecessors. A record of what is said on the floor of Congress, published every day Congress is in session. The sections are Proceedings of the Senate and House, Extensions of Remarks, and Daily Digest. For a more detailed look at these titles and their history see Overview of the Congressional Record and Its Predecessor Publications.
Laws and Legislative Histories
1789- Statutes at Large. Laws and treaties approved by Congress and signed by the President. Statutes at Large are published in the order of the date of passage and include text of amendments to the Constitution. Treaties and proclamations were included until 1948. Terrell Reference Doc GS 4.111
1951- Digitized Statutes at Large FDsys
1973- Public Laws Thomas
1994- United States Code FDsys
1995- Public and Private Laws FDsys
Legislative Histories As a bill moves through Congress various documents are created such as committee reports and hearings, the bill and amendments to it, and sponsor remarks. The compilation of these documents are the bill's legislative history. The following are sources of legislative histories.
1970-2003 CIS Annual Terrell Reference Z1223.Z7 C6
1968-2001 United States Code Congressional and Administrative News Holland and Terrell KF5402.U55x
1969- ProQuest Congressional (WSU only)
Search library catalog by keyword, e.g., "voting rights" and "legislative history"
1774-1881 Poore, Benjamin Perley Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States, Sept. 5, 1774-March 4, 1881. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1885. Continued by Ames' Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government, 1881-1893 and by the Catalogue of Public Documents, 53d- Congress, 1893- . Holland Ref Doc Y 4.P93/1:G74/1
1789-1909 Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909. 3rd ed., New York: Kraus Reprint Corp., 1962 (Reprint of 3rd ed., GPO 1911). 1st-60th Congress. complete checklist (in SuDoc number order) of judicial, executive, and legislative public documents issues by the U.S. Government. Terrell Reference Z1223.A11 1962
1789- CIS U.S. Serial Set Index Beginning with the American State Papers in 1789 and including the index and carto-bibliography of maps, 1789-1969. Terrell Reference Z1223.Z7 U55 Online: U.S. Congressional Serial Set (WSU only)
1830-1969 CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Prints Index. Washington: Congressional Information Service, Inc., 1980. 21st-91st Congress. Terrell Reference J74.C66x 1980
1833-1969 CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings Index. Washington: Congressional Information Service, Inc., 1981-85. 23rd-91st Congress. "Congressional committee hearings proceedings were first heald early in the 19th century and became a major component in the deliverative work of Congress during the years following the Civil War." --Introduction. Terrell Reference KF49.C62 U5
1875-1990 Congressional Record Index. Washington: GPO, 1874. 43rd-101st Congress. The proceedings of Congress. Terrell Reference Doc X
1881-93 Ames, John G. Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government, 1881-1893. Washington: GPO, 1905, 2 vol. Terrell Reference Doc Y4745, Y4746
1893-1940 Catalogue of the Public Documents of the (53rd-76th) Congress and of All Departments of the Government of the United States for the Period from Mr. 4, 1893 to Dec. 31, 1940. Washington: GPO. 25 vol. Terrell Reference Doc GP 3.6
1900- Monthly Catalog of the United States Government Publications. Washington: GPO, 1895- . An index to Congressional publications, judiciary materials, and documents issued by executive agencies. Terrell Reference Doc GP 3.8 (1900-1998); Online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
1900-1971 Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, 1900-1971. Arlington, VA: Carrollton Press, Inc., 1973-95. Terrell Reference Z1223.Z7 B9
1941-1970 United States Government Publications Monthly Catalog: Quinquennial Cumulative Personal Author Index. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian Press, 1971-79. Terrell Reference Doc GP 3.8/a
1951-2002 Congressional Index. Chicago: Commerce Clearing House, 1937- . (1951-2002, 82nd-107th Congress). Terrell Reference J69.C6
1970- CIS Index to Publications of the United States Congress. Washington: Congressional Information Service, 1970- . 91st Congress. Terrell Reference Z1223.Z7 C6; Online ProQuest Congressional (WSU only)
ProQuest Congressional (dates vary) U.S. Congressional publications including hearings, bill text, legislative histories, voting records, calendars, and more. Congressional publications searchable from 1789- ; legislative histories, bills, laws searchable from 1980's-