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Georgetown Law Library

Free and Low Cost Legal Research Guide

Think beyond Lexis, Westlaw & Bloomberg Law. This guides identifies resources for free or low cost legal research.

Free Sources of Legislative History

Several types of legislative history documents are available for free online, although mostly only for recent Congresses. Like other free online legal materials, legislative history documents are not usually annotated or linked to cases or enacted statutes. Researchers typically have to rely on document numbers or keyword searching to find relevant documents. Please also note that many of these sources only provide selected documents, meaning they do not contain all documents for a particular time period.

For information about the significance of legislative history and the different types of documents involved, please see our Legislative History Research Guide.

Congressional Bills

Source Dates Notes
American Memory House bills from 1799-1873 (6th - 42nd Congresses) with the exception of the 12th Congress and Senaate Bills from 1819-1873 (16th - 42nd Congresses) Library of Congress, browseable by Congressional session and type of legislation. Searchable by keyword (full text).
GovInfo From 103rd Congress (1993 - present) Browseable by Congressional session and type of legislation. Searchable by bill number or keyword (full text). To search the full text of bills, use the advanced search interface.
Congress.gov Bills from 101st Congress (1989 - present) Library of Congress, searchable by bill number of keyword (full text).

Congressional Hearings

Source Dates Notes
GovInfo Select hearings 99th, 100th & 102nd Congresses (1995 - present) (none from the 101st) Browseable by Congressional session and searchable by keyword (full text). To search the full text of hearings, use the advanced search interface.
Rutgers School of Law Selected hearings from 1970s to 1998 (approx. 9350 hearings available) Searchable by keyword (full text).

The Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. provides a list of links to the hearing pages of Congressional committees, which contains transcripts of selected hearings.

Congressional Committee Reports

Source Dates Notes
American Memory Select reports from 23rd - 64th Congress (1833 - 1917) Browseable by Congressional session and searchable by keyword (full text).
GovInfo 104th Congress (1995 - present) Browseable by Congressional session and searchable by keyword (full text). To search the full text of reports, use the advanced search interface.
Congress.gov 104th Congress 91995 - present) Browseable and searchable by report number and keyword (full text)

Congressional Debates (Congressional Record)

Source Dates Notes
American Memory

Annals of Congress (1789 - 1824, 1st - 18th Congresses), Bound Edition

Register of Debates (1824 - 1837, 18th - 25th Congresses), Bound Edition

Congressional Globe (1833 - 1873, 23rd - 42d Congresses), Bound Edition

Browseable by Congressional session and searchable by key word (full text).
GovInfo

Bound Edition (Dec. 1988 - 2000)

Daily Edition (1994 - present)

Congressional Record Index (1983 - present)

Browseable by Congressional session and search by keyword (full text). To search the full text of the Congressional Record, use the advanced search interface.
Congress.gov 104th Congress - present (1995 - present), Daily Edition Browseable and searchable by keyword, date, and member of Congress.

State Legislative History

Online access to state materials varies widely. Please consult our state research guides for information about individual jurisdictions.