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Finding U.S. Congressional Publications in the WSU Libraries

Updates:

(watch this space for updates as you work on this project)

9/30 - I've started doing the screencasts - you wil see "demo" links. I had hoped to have them done by the end of this week, but I think I won't get them all done until the end of day on 10/7.  They load slowly so give them a few minutes at the start!

Doing a Nineteenth Century Legislative History

19th Century Legislative Histories @ the WSU Libraries

This is a compilation from other pages  - it is a starting point, so you may want to look at other WSU Libraries government document library guides, including:

Note: If you think something from one of the other library guides (or from another source!) should be on this guide, please email me {Lorena] at oenglish @ wsu.edu

Locating a Law to Write About: Statutes at Large

******  Demo screencast (9/19; must sign in with WSU email account for now - if you are not WSU emal me and I can give you access for a week)

There are many access points for starting a legislative history, and you already may know what law you want to trace, but if you don't, you may want to start with the Statutes at Large, in order to identify a bill that definitely became law.

The Statutes at Large are available in print in the Terrell reference area (Terrell Reference Doc GS 4.111)  but please use the online version from the Library of Congress. Note that joint resolutions are not broken out, and to locate them you will have to open the full S@L PDF and search (they are located at the end of each session before the session index).

Using the Statutes at Large (Texas Tech University School of Law)

  • You may find it useful to use this Years-to-Congress chart, to know what years correspond to each Congress.

About the Statutes at Large:

"The United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large, is the official source for the laws and resolutions passed by Congress. Publication began in 1845 by the private firm of Little, Brown and Company under authority granted by a joint resolution of Congress. In 1874, Congress transferred the authority to publish the Statutes at Large to the Government Printing Office, which has been responsible for producing the set since that time.

Every law, public and private, ever enacted by the Congress is published in the Statutes at Large in order of the date of its passage. Until 1948, all treaties and international agreements approved by the Senate were also published in the set. In addition, the Statutes at Large includes the text of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, amendments to the Constitution, treaties with Indians and foreign nations, and presidential proclamations."

via The LoC American Memory Project "

Locating a Bill Number from the Statutes at large

This is a bit complicated, because bill numbers were not included in the Statutes until 1903. For those earlier laws, use the Legislative Reference Checklist: The Key to Legislative Histories from 1798 - 1903 by Eugene Nabors (Hol Ref KF 49 .L43 1982).

[This is also available online (at least for now) - you can use the ascii table found at https://github.com/unitedstates/nabors/blob/master/table.csv - you will have to view it carefully. The order of information is as below, separated by commas in the online version but asterisks here:

Nabors page * Congress * Chapter * Number * S@L volume * starting page * [ending page if it goes more than one page] * Date of enactment (year-month-day) * Bill type (S, HR, HJR, SJR) *  bill number.

So...if I have a S@L citation, I can find the associated bill number (of at least the final version) by searching the file. Example: I am interested in the bill number for a law about constructing an "underground railway" (subway!) in NYC that is located in S@L at 32 Stat 1232. (volume 32, page 1232, passed during the 57th Congress). The S@L entry (see picture) tells me it was approved 2/27/1903. So I search by date and find it on the webpage (its the very last entry, actually). It is: 428,56,10,10,32,1232,,1903-02-27,SJR,159

Which translates to:

Nabors page 428, Congress 56, Slip Chapter 10, Slip number 10, Statutes at Large vol. 32, p. 1232, signed on 2/27/1903, and it is Senate Joint Resolution 159. NOTE: the file has the *wrong Congress* for this entry and all others for the 57th Congress (starting at line 13357, Nabors page 416, and going to the end of the file) so ignore that and use the signing date and S@L starting page number! But watch out...its possible there were two or more bills that have the same approval date and S@L page number! This is where the "Slip Chapter" designation for each law becomes important. You will sometimes see a S@L citation with a chapter designation.

Another way to find the bill number is by searching for the long title (in quotation marks in a date-appropriate fulltext or index source such as a House or Senate Journal or its index.

Locating Bill Texts at the WSU Libraries

******Demo Screencast (ACoL)     - requires WSU log-in; email me if you need access (9/19)                    


    1789-1879, 1913-1921                                                       Microfilm copy available under “TSD Microfilm 1892”
    (1st-45th Cong.; 63rd-66th Cong.)                                   (House) and "TSD Microfilm 1898"(Senate) in Holland &Terrell  Microforms (Microfiche Row 19, Cabinets 9 and 10)


                                                        
    1799-1873                                                                          A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation--Bills & Resolutions (provides all versions: introduced, amended, passed)
    (6th-42nd Cong.)                                                              
    House Bills and Resolutions, 1799-1873                
    Senate Bills and Resolutions, 1819-1873
    Senate Joint Resolutions, 1824-1873

** Important note - I found an example in the Senate where after the original bill was printed, as I kept clicking Next Image, it took me to successive versions of the bill, including amendments, So be sure to keep flipping the pages until you get to the next bill to make sure you are seeing everything you can potentially see.

    1874 - 1900 - not available at the WSU Libraries. Options:

  • See if the bill was entered into the Congressional Record when it was introduced (bills introduced prior to the publication of the Congressional Record are available in A Century of Lawmaking under Bills and Resolutions.)
  • ​Search the HathiTrust Digital Library (WSU is a member - you may be prompted to sign in with your WSU network ID) and Google Books (not likely, but worth a shot). Be sure to search by the official title as introduced (the "long title"), in quotation marks.. Note that if you find anything you will need to be very careful about checking whether it is the bill as introduced, amended, or passed.
  • ​Use Interlibrary Loan to request a copy of your bill from another library  
    • To do this, you must first have an Illiad account (based on your WSU Network ID). Once you have created one, then you can manually make your request. Note: the following is based on my understanding as of 9/27 based on conversations with ILL staff; it may change! Choose the Copy option from the left-margin "Make New Request" choices. Put everything in the Title box. Include: bill number, year, Congress, session, name of bill introducer (sponsor), and the date the bill was introduced. Note that you want the text of the bill/resolution/etc. as introduced, not the passed version! Put this in the Notes field as well! Be sure to review the rest of the boxes; note that the default is an electronic copy, which you want!

House and Senate Journals (and their Indexes)

What  are House Journals and Senate Journals (and their Indexes), and how can they be used?

Summaries of congressional floor action (including names, dates and CR/CG/etc. page numbers). Good for providing an outline for your legislative history, to be filled in and expanded with the actual text of debates and speeches etc from the CR/CG/etc, testimony and investigations from congressional publications, etc.

Note that the Congressional Record (1873 to current) also can be used for this (best to use both ;-) because many volume contains a “History of Bills and Joint Resolutions” or simiilar  table section, which includes citations to relevant floor debates as well as congressional reports and documents. You can find all the indexes at Sessional indexes 1789 - 1963 (HathiTrust) - includes indexes to all series - there will usually be some sort of History of Bills and Resolutions or History of Bills, but not always - there isn't a lot of consistancy really until we get to the CR. Note that volumes that include multiple Congresses do not have cumulative indexes; each session succeeds each other. Be sure to watch out for things like separate indexes to Appendices and Statements.

Locating House and Senate Journals ​(summaries of congressional floor action)

  • In the Serial Set 1817-1952 (see Finding Congressional Journals in the U.S. Serial Set  tp find what Serial Set volume(s) correspond with the Congress your bill was enacted in --- the Congress-to-Serial Set-Volume-Number table starts on p.41)
    • ******Demo video (9/19 ; WSU email required ; email me if you don't have one)
      • These are nice because they are the cumulative journals for each session, day-by-day, wth a cumulated index at the end.

      • House and Senate Journals are available in our subscription to the US Congressional Serial Set. They are located under the Publication Category tab as "Congressional Journals" and they are searchable (simple search, advanced search, publication search, and bill number search - each with its own peculiarities).

      • You may still want to use the index, however, and you can find an index and appendices for each Journal volume in the drop-down tables of contents/page search box (upper left corner). Note the index includes a table with the status of all introduced legislation as of the end of the session interpolated into the A-Z structure of the index in the Bs (Bills from the House of Representatives and Bills from the Senate, in order by bill number),  and one for introduced Joint Resolutions under the Ss.

      • Other sources

House and Senate Journals are indexed, and you may find that very helpful to start to lessen the likelihood of missing something. Note: the instructions below will also help you find House and Senate Journals by date in A Century of Lawmaking.

Locating House and Senate Journal Indexes in A Century of Lawmaking:

******Demo screencast (WSU log-in required; email me if you need access). Note: I will be redoing this one, think.

Journals from 1789-1875 are also in A Century of Lawmaking (Library of Congress American Memory Project).

1789-1875: A Century of Lawmaking (How to Use)

1. Select link for either House Journal or Senate Journal (Maclay's Journal is a supplement for 1789-1791)

2. Browse to and select your Congress, then select your session. Remember that if it was not introduced and passed in the same session you may need to look at following sessions to see additional activity before passage. In some cases bills may have been introduced (but not signed into law) in earlier Congresses as well, and it may be useful to look up prior attempts to pass the same or a similar bill to get more information as you discuss the history of the bill's subject and its preformulation phase.

3. You will see a text transcription of the first page of the document. Look down at the bottom of the page, and click on Navigator (note - not on Next Section! Navigator is a separate link).

4. This will show you the Journals by date. If you already know your date(s), you can go to it and search it/them in your browser with your keyword or bill number using <control> F; if not, look at the bottom of the page and click on Index.

  • The index is organized alphabetically./ You can use <control> F to search for your  keyword(s) or bill number (better yet, both!), but you may want to skim it as well to see related information.
  • Remember, this index is not an index to the CR/CG/etc - it is an index to the House and Senate Journals, where you will find basic information that will give you a starting structure for your legislative history (including votes and major action).. There are separate indexes for action on the floor of the House and Senate that are published in the Congressional Record/Globe/etc.
  • Once you have page numbers, you can plug them in using the Turn to Image box [if you don't see a link to it click on any Page Image link to see it)  to go directly to the transcription of the page (you can view and download a TIFF image version of each page by clicking on the Page Image link.

You will also want to use the Search Function to make sure you are seeing everything. 

Congressional Action: Hearings

Upon introduction, a bill is sent to a committee, subcommittee, select committee,  or (especially in the case of the early years) the Committee of the Whole for the chamber. If you do not know where the bill was referred to, check its introduction in the Congressional Record​/Globe/etc. You will also find it in the relevant House or Senate Journal or Journal indexes.

Note that there were a lot fewer congressional/congressional committee hearings in the nineteenth century than there are today.

Index to Congressional Hearings (1824 - present ; 18th Cong.- ) ​​Use this to get a citation

Hearings (1869 - 1934 ;  41st-73th Cong. )

  • U.S. Congressional Hearings (Senate Library) 41st-73rd Congress. 1869-1934: Documented. Microfiche copy available under “Pre-1935 Congressional Hearings" in Holland and Terrell Microforms. Holland/Terrell Libraries Microfiche (rwo 16, cab. 214)
    • ​​Group 1(B) (Doc. Hrgs. (Sen. Lib.) 41st-73rd (1869-1934))  - not in Serial Set
    • Supplement
  • Search the HathiTrust Digital Library (WSU is a member) and Google Books to find online

Other Hearings

Note: Hearings may be topical or investigative, and not tied to a particular bill

Congressional Action: House and Senate Publications

About the American State Papers (1789-1816 online)

All 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. The ASP is available online at A Century of Lawmaking: American State Papers

 

About the U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1817-1994 online)

"The Serial Set is a somewhat changing composite of almost all House and Senate reports and documents published since 1817. It generally includes committee reports related to bills and other matters, presidential communications to Congress, treaty materials, certain executive department publications, and certain non-governmental publications.

The Serial Set does not normally include the text of congressional debates, bills, resolutions, hearings, committee prints, and publications from support agencies of Congress such as the General Accounting Office and the Congressional Budget Office. However, by special order (usually in the Senate) some 300 selected hearings and many bill texts were included, especially in the 19th century and early 20th century.​" http://www.llsdc.org/serial-set-volumes-guide#overview

Item information

"The serial number is a unique number applied to each book in the series of congressional publications running consecutively from the 15th Congress [1817-1819] [to current]. 

Note: "Documents and reports can be located using the volume or serial number but should be cited using the publication number and Congress and session number.​" - from ACoL:SS

Locating House and Senate Reports and Documents (included in the Serial Set)

Reports - "usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation"

Documents - "all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate. Documents cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set."

U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1817 - 1994 via Readex)

  • Note: You may find it easier to use ProQuest Congressional as an index to find locating information as it will give you detailed citation information that can make it easier to search the Serial Set versus starting your search in the Serial Set. its up to you, and both methods work.  However, if you do, be aware that Serial Set titles may be different from ProQuest Congressional document titles, so use it to find specific Serial Set volumes, pages, etc information only and not as a title search..

Committee Reports may also be found via the Congressional Record Index (1873 -)

********

Locating Committee Prints  (Usually not included in the Serial Set)

"Congressional Committee Prints are publications issued by Congressional Committees that include topics related to their legislative or research activities, as well as other matters such as memorial tributes. The prints are an excellent resource for statistical and historical information, and for legislative analysis. The subjects of the Committee Prints vary greatly due to the different concerns and actions of each committee. Some basic categories of Congressional Committee Prints are: draft reports and bills, directories, statistical materials, investigative reports, historical reports, situational studies, confidential staff reports, hearings, and legislative analyses."(via and more: GPO: About Congressional Committee Prints)

  • In general, not included in the Serial Set.
  • Index: ProQuest Congressional (use this to locate titles and bibliographic data that you can use to find in fulltext)
  • Full-text:
    • 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 ProQuest Congressional [Lorena note: ???]
    • Summit - search by title
    • ​Interlibrary Loan

Floor Action Publications for the House and Senate: The Congressional Record and its Predessors

The Congressional Record and its Predecessors

Note: A Century of Lawmaking is great, but it can be hard to use and sometimes links don't work (I have reported this!). You may find the PDF versions available through the HathiTrust Digital Library (WSU is a member, but these items are all out of copyright anyway) to be easier to work with as they are standard PDFs.

Note: Sessions of Congress with Corresponding Debate Record Volume Numbers (1789 - Current) will give you the appropriate volume numbers in the Aof/CG/CR etc by Congress

Note: You can find indexes to all of these in one place at Sessional indexes 1789 - 1963 (HathiTrust) 

  • Annals of Congress  online via A Century of Lawmaking (1789-1824 ; 1st - 18th Cong., 1st sess.) - note, this is an after-the-fact summary, not a contemporary transcript/record.
    • ​​Online at HathiTrust (PDFs; better searching, but does not include all volumes)
    • Online at the U of N. Texas - use the Date sort in left hand nav menu ; may not include all volumes
    • Also on microfilm - call no. X, shelf 12, cabinet no. 168
    • Index and Appendix: ACoL (scroll down the AoC page above and you will see at top of each Congress) ; HathiTrust (use Section Jump box at top of record)
    •  
  • Register of Debates  online via A Century of Lawmaking (1824 - 1837 ; 18th Cong., 2nd sess. - 25th Cong., 1st sess.)
    • Online at HathiTrust (PDFs, better searching)
    • Online at U of N. Texas (online viewer, can download; may not be comprehensive) - use the Dates sort in the left nav bar!
    • Also on microfilm - call no. X, shelf 12, cabinet no. 168
    •  
  • Congressional Globe  online via A Century of Lawmaking (1833 - 1873 ; 23rd Congress - 42nd Congress)
    • Online at HathiTrust (PDFs, better searching, not all volumes are available and the bibliographic description is sometimes terrible)
    • Online at the U of N. Texas - use the Dates sort in the left nav bar!
    • Also on microfilm - call no. X, shelf 12, cabinet no. 168
    •  
  • Congressional Record (1873 - current ; 43rd Congress - )
    • 1873- 2015 Bound edition (via govInfo) - Use this version!
    • 1873-1877 (A Century of Lawmaking
    • HathiTrust - not complete; bad descriptions - keep scrolling!)
    •  
    • 1873-1976 on microfilm - call no. X, shelf 12, cabinet no. 168
    • Note: From 1873 to the present, each volume contains a “History of Bills and Resolutions” section, which includes citations to relevant floor debates as well as congressional reports and documents.
    •  
  • Sessional indexes 1789 - 1963 (HathiTrust) - includes indexes to all series
  • Note: An abridged version of the Annals etc. covering 1789 - 1856, An Abridgement of the Debates of Congress from 1789 to 1856 (16 volumes)  is also available in HathiTrust . I'm not sure how "abridged" it is...and I would stay clear of it.

More information on Congressional Record access, with fuller citations to the various series titles.

1789-     Congressional Record and predecessors.    

For a more detailed look at these titles and their history see Overview of the Congressional Record and Its Predecessor Publications.

  • 1789 - 1824: The debates and proceedings in the Congress of the United States (also known as the Annals of Congress). Washington, D.C. : Gales and Seaton, 1834-1856. 1st cong.-18th cong. 1st sess. (1789-1824)  Holland Microfilm US Doc
  •  
  • 1789 - 1856 abridged: Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives / by the author of the Thirty years' view. New York : D. Appleton, 1857-1861. 1st cong.- 35th cong. 1st sess. (1789-1856) Holland J15 .B4 (dupe)
  •  
  • 1825 - 1837: Register of Debates in Congress. Washington, [D.C.] : Gales & Seaton, 1825-1837. 18th cong. 2d sess.-25th cong. 1st sess. (1824-1838) Holland Microfilm US Doc X
  •  
  • 1834 - 1873: Congressional Globe. Washington : Blair & Rives, 1834-1873. 23d cong.-42d cong. (1833/1834-1872/1873)  Holland Microfilm US Doc X
  •  
  • 1874 -- : Congressional Record: proceedings and debates of the ... Congress. Washington : Govt. Print. Off., 1874- Washington : U.S. G.P.O., 43rd cong. - (1873- );  43rd-94th cong., 1873-1976 Holland Microfilm US Doc X ; 95th-100th cong.;  1977-1988 Holland Microfiche US Doc X ;  101st cong. -, 1989- Holland Microfiche US Doc X 1.1;   101st cong. - , 1989-- Congress.gov ;   47th cong.- 154th Congress (1911-2008)  govinfo
    • 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

Presidential Messages

Ending Back at the Statutes at Large

After (maybe) starting at the Statutes at Law to find a law to trace, we return to find the law as passed, concluding your legislative history (unless you want to discuss any amendments that went into effect after passage, or new laws that replaced your original law).

The Statutes at large are also available in print in the Terrell reference area, but please use the online versions!

Using the Statutes at Large (Texas Tech University School of Law)

About the Statutes at Large:

"The United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large, is the official source for the laws and resolutions passed by Congress. Publication began in 1845 by the private firm of Little, Brown and Company under authority granted by a joint resolution of Congress. In 1874, Congress transferred the authority to publish the Statutes at Large to the Government Printing Office, which has been responsible for producing the set since that time.

Every law, public and private, ever enacted by the Congress is published in the Statutes at Large in order of the date of its passage. Until 1948, all treaties and international agreements approved by the Senate were also published in the set. In addition, the Statutes at Large includes the text of the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, amendments to the Constitution, treaties with Indians and foreign nations, and presidential proclamations." via The LoC American Memory Project

 

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