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Georgetown Law Library

Legislative History Research Guide

This guide collects major sources for conducting legislative history research, including committee reports, hearings, bills, debates and more.

Contents

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Introduction

The rest of this research guide discusses the legislative process and all of the documents created during the process in more depth and identifies the most useful resources for locating the documents, including compiled legislative histories. For more detail and context, refer to the other pages of this guide.

The purpose of this chart is to provide a quick reference to library resources (and free web sources) available for locating specific Congressional documents.

Bills

Electronic
Congress.gov (free web) Full text of Bills from 1989 to the present; summaries and metadata from 1973 to the present.
Govinfo.gov (free web) From 103rd Congress (1993) to present
House & Senate Bills & Resolutions (free web) House Bills & Resolutions: from 1799 through 1873 (6th to 42nd Congresses), with the exception of the 12th Congress.

Senate Bills & Resolutions: from 1819 through 1873 (16th to 42nd Congresses).
GovTrack.us (free web--independent project) Complete information back to 1973, plus limited information about enacted laws from 1951-1972 and bills from 1799-1873.
ProQuest Congressional From 101st Congress (1989) to present
CQ.com Bill Comparison tool (bottom left under "Create a Report") allows you to compare two different versions of the same bill, or any version of two different bills. (Some browser security settings may interfere with the use of this tool.)

From 104th Congress (1995) to present.
Lexis
Current Congress: Browse Sources > Congressional Full Text of Bills - Current Congress
 
Previous Congresses beginning with the 101st (1989): Browse Sources > Congressional Full Text of Bills - xx Congress
Westlaw Federal > Federal Proposed & Enacted Legislation 

Current session's bills are under "Congressional Bills."  Otherwise, use Historical Federal Bills, which begin with 1995.
Bloomberg Law Browse All Content > Laws & Regulations > Legislative Resources > Legislative Materials > "[current] Congress Bill Search" or "Search All U.S. House & Senate Bills"
Microform
From the 73rd Congress (1933) to present Williams Media, Cabinets A9 & B1
Finding Aids - Alphabetical Lists by Topic
Congressional Record Index (free web) Choose a Year, then browse the list of topics and link to a list of bills for the topic. From 98th Congress (1983) to present. [Also available in print and on HeinOnline from 1873 to present.]
Congressional Index Williams KF49 .C6. Choose volume for correct Congress and see Subject Index for listing of bills
Congressional Bills Glossary (free web) Definitions for bill and resolution types (enrolled, engrossed, etc.)

Hearings

Electronic
Congress.gov (free web) Selected hearings from 104th Congress (1995) to present, organized by committee.  Not comprehensive.
House and Senate Committees (free web) Links to the hearings pages of Congressional committees from the Law Librarians' Society of Washington DC's Legislative Source Book.
ProQuest Congressional Full text digital hearings from 1824 to present. Use the Advanced Search and select the "Hearings" button only, and restrict by selecting the appropriate year or Congress at the bottom of the page.
Lexis Browse Sources > CQ Congressional Testimony: (Selected transcripts from 104th Congress (1995) to present.)
Westlaw Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Tools: Legislative History > U.S. Congressional Testimony (Agendas and witness lists for U.S. congressional committee hearings, transcripts of oral statements, and written statements submitted to committees of Congress. Coverage begins with 1993.)
Bloomberg Law Browse All Content > Laws & Regulations > Legislative Resources > Legislative Materials > Official U.S. House & Senate Committee Transcripts.
Govinfo.gov (free) From 99th Congress (1985) to the present.
CQ Transcriptions (Nexus Uni) This collection includes select hearing transcripts, 1994 to the present. Useful for very recent hearings that may not be available yet elsewhere. (This link may not work if you are logged in to Lexis Advance. Try a different browser.)
Federal News Service Transcripts (Westlaw) Hearings from 2010 to the present. Provided by NewsRoom. Useful for very recent hearings that may not be available yet elsewhere.
Paper
Individual Hearing Transcripts Use GULLiver's keyword search to locate a specific hearing. Individual hearing transcripts published before 1998 have been sent to off-site storage and must be requested at the Circulation Desk. (Paper copies no longer collected after 7/2013)
Microform
From the 23rd Congress (1833-1969) Williams Media, Cabinets A4 through A7
1970-2004 Williams Media, Cabinets B3 through B11
Finding Aids - Indexes
ProQuest Congressional Hearings are indexed from the 18th Congress (1824) to present. Select the "Hearings" button only, and make sure to select the appropriate year or Congress at the bottom of the page.
Lexis Browse Sources > CIS/Historical Index

Committee Reports (House, Senate, Conference)

Electronic
Congress.gov (free web) From 104th Congress (1995) to present
Govinfo.gov (free web) From 104th Congress (1995) to present
U.S. Serial Set (free web) Selected reports from 23rd to 64th Congresses (1833-1917)
ProQuest Congressional Select Advanced, Search in "Serial Set" for full-text from 1789 - present. Select the appropriate year and Congress.
Lexis Browse Sources > Committee Reports (From 101st Congress, 2d Session (1990) to present, although the coverage of the 101st and 102nd Congresses is only selective.)
Westlaw Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Tools: Legislative History
Bloomberg Law Browse All Content > Laws & Regulations > Legislative Resources > Legislative Materials > Official U.S. House & Senate Committee Reports.
Paper
United States Congressional Serial Set House Reports and Senate Reports volumes, Williams KF29 .U5, from 97th Congress (1981) to present.
USCCAN (United States Code Congressional and Administrative News) Legislative History volumes, Williams KF48 .U54. Selected reports from 78th Congress, 2d Session (1944).
Microform
From the 1st Congress (1789-1969) Williams Media, Cabinets A1 through A4
(1970-2004) Williams Media, Cabinets B3 through B11
Finding Aids
Congressional Serial Set Catalog (free web) Choose Advanced Search and click on Congressional Serial Set. Search Committee Reports from the 95th Congress (1977) to present.
ProQuest Congressional Search Committee Report listings from 1789 to present. First "Clear All", then choose "Serial Set" and "House and Senate Reports." Make sure to choose the correct year or Congress at the bottom of the page.
U.S. Congressional Serial Set: Numerical Lists of Documents and Reports (free web) 85th to 109th Congress (1957-2006)
CIS U.S. Serial Set Index Williams Media, Z1223.Z9 C65 (1789-1998)

 

Congressional Debates (Congressional Record and Predecessors)

Electronic
Congress.gov (free web) From 101st Congress (1989) to present. Daily Edition.
Govinfo.gov (free web)  Daily Edition, 1994 to present.
 Bound Edition, 1873 to 2001, 2005 to 2008
 Congressional Record Index (Daily), 1983 to Present
HeinOnline Bound Editions of Congressional Record, 1873 to 2011. 
Daily Edition of Congressional Record, 1980 to present.
Includes a Daily to Bound Locator.
Also includes Annals of Congress, Register of Debates & Congressional Globe (see below).
ProQuest Congressional All bound editions, 1789- present.
Daily Edition, 1985 to present. From 99th Congress (1985) to present.
Includes Annals of Congress, Register of Debates & Congressional Globe.
Lexis Browse Sources > Congressional Record.(From 99th Congress (1985) to present. Daily Edition.)
Westlaw Proposed & Enacted Legislation > Tools: Legislative History > Congressional Record
LLMC Bound Edition from v. 1 (1873) - v. 4 (1876) and v. 136 (1990) - v. 152 (2006)
HeinOnline (Predecessors)
Annals of Congress (1789-1825), 1st through 18th Congress, Bound Volumes
Register of Debates (1824-1839), 18th through 25th Congress, Bound Volumes
The Congressional Globe (1833-1873) 22nd through 42nd Congress, Bound Voolumes
Paper
Congressional Record Williams KF35 .A26. Daily edition issues are discarded when the bound edition arrives. From 43rd Congress (1873). Bound Editions to 2003; Daily Editions 2003-7/2013.
Congressional Globe Williams KF35 .A25. From 23rd to 42nd Congress (1833 to 1873). Bound Edition.
Annals of Congress Williams KF35. A2 1834. Bound Edition. From 1st to 18th Congress (1789 to 1824). Bound Edition.
Microform
Congressional Record Williams Media, Cabinet B16 & B17. From 1873. Bound Edition to 2003. Daily Edition 2003-present.
Congressional Globe Williams Media, Cabinet A1. From 1868 to 1873. Bound Edition.
Finding Aids
Congressional Record Williams KF35 .A26. There is an index for each volume
Sessions & Years of Congress with Corresponding Congressional Record Volume Numbers
(free web)
Table comparing years, Congressional Record volumes and Congresses (useful when using LLMC database, which lists debates by volume only).
Govinfo.gov (free web) Congressional Record Index (Daily), 1983 to Present
HeinOnline Includes a Daily to Bound Locator tool.