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Federal Legislative History Research: Database Content Coverage

The legislative process, the documents generated by each step, and resources for finding Congressional documents.

Sources for Finding Legislative History Documents

 ProQuest Congressional  

Congressional publications database, provides indexing, abstracts, and full-text for legislative documents dating back to 1789. Indexing is available for all documents from 1789 to current

Full Text Collections with searchable PDF:

  • U.S. Bills and Resolutions (1789 to present)
  • Congressional Committee Reports (U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American State Papers, 1789-present)
  • Congressional Committee Prints (1830 to present)
  • Congressional Committee Hearings (1824 to present)
  • Statutes at Large (1789 to currently published)
  • Congressional Record (permanent edition 1873 to currently published) (Predecessor publications, 1789-1873)

GovInfo (open access, Government Publishing Office)

  • Congressional Bills (1993 to present)
  • Congressional Hearings (1995 to present, plus select reports from prior Congresses) 
  • Congressional Record (Daily ed.) (1994 to present)
  • Congressional Record (Permanent bound ed.) (1873 - 2016)
  • Congressional Record Index (Daily ed.) (1983 to present)
  • Congressional Reports (1995 to present, plus select reports from prior Congresses)
  • Congressional Serial Set (select volumes from the 69th Congress, the 82nd Congress, and prior Congresses) 
  • History of Bills from the Congressional Record (1983 to present)
  • Public and Private Laws (1995 to present)

HeinOnline > U.S. Congressional Documents Library

  • Congressional Record 
    • Congressional Record (permanent edition), Vols. 1 (1873) to most currently published 
    • Congressional Record (daily edition), Vols. 126 (1980) to most currently published
    • Congressional Record Daily to Bound pagination locator
    • Includes predecessor publications (Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, Congressional Globe)
  • Congressional Hearings (almost 80,000 hearings from 1849 to present)
  • Committee Prints (almost 9,000 committee prints from 1865 to present)
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set (ongoing project, released in phases and will soon contain complete coverage) (open access, Law Library of Congress)

  • Legislation - Actions Overview, 93rd Congress (1973) to present
  • Legislation - Full Text, 103rd Congress (1993) to present
  • Congressional Record (Daily ed.), 104th Congress (1995) to present
  • Congressional Record (Bound ed.), 52nd to 103rd Congress (1891 to 1994)
  • Congressional Record Index, 104th Congress (1995) to present 
  • Committee Hearing Transcripts, 103rd Congress (1993) to present  
  • Committee Prints, 103rd Congress (1993) to present  
  • Committee Reports, 104th Congress (1995) to present
  • Laws, 82nd Congress (1951) to present 
  • Coverage Dates for Collections 
  • The Legislative Process: contains educational videos that provide a basic outline of the steps involved in the legislative process

American Memory: A Century of Lawmaking (open access, Library of Congress)

  • House Bills and Resolutions, (1799 - 1811, 1813-1873)
  • Senate Bills and Resolutions, (1819 - 1873)
  • Senate Joint Resolutions, (1824 - 1826, 1829 - 1835, 1837 - 1873)
  • Statutes at Large, (1789 - 1875)
  • American State Papers, (1789 - 1838)
  • U.S. Serial Set, (selected documents and reports, 1833 - 1917)
  • House Journal, (1789 - 1875)
  • Senate Journal, (1789 - 1875)
  • Senate Executive Journal, (1789 - 1875)
  • Annals of Congress, (1789 - 1824)
  • Register of Debates, (1824 - 1837)
  • Congressional Globe, (1833 - 1873)
  • Congressional Record, (1873 - 1875)

Jerome Hall Law Library Government Documents Collection

Official U.S. government documents are published by the Government Publishing Office in print and electronic formats. The Jerome Hall Law Library receives U.S. Congressional documents through the Federal Depository Library Program

Search for U.S. government documents in IUCAT to find catalog records that include information about format, holdings, locations, and electronic availability. The main collection of government documents is shelved on the fourth floor of the Law Library, and is organized by the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system

The Law Library provides access to government documents through official government online sources ( and GovInfo), and also purchases or subscribes to commercial databases which enhance the value and usage of the documents collection. Databases such as HeinOnline, ProQuest Congressional, ProQuest Legislative Insight and LLMC Digital provide indexing, abstracts, and full-text collections of historic and current government documents. The library also purchases other guides or finding aids for government documents from commercial publishers.

Sources for Collections of Compiled Legislative Histories


Compiled legislative histories can be found in these HeinOnline libraries:

  • U.S. Federal Legislative History Library 
  • Civil Rights and Social Justice
  • Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S.
  • Intellectual Property Law Collection  
  • Taxation & Economic Reform in America: Parts I & II (Tax Legislative Histories and Legislative History of U.S. Tax Conventions)
  • History of Bankruptcy: Taxation & Economic Reform in America Part III

ProQuest Congressional

  • "Legislative Histories" collection indexes compiled legislative documents for Public Laws enacted since 1969
  • CRS Reports – advanced search, “legislative history” in Anywhere except full text

ProQuest Legislative Insight

  • A Federal legislative history service that provides compilations of digital full text publications created by Congress during the process leading up to the enactment of U.S. Public Laws.
  • Coverage includes professionally researched legislative histories from 1789 to current.  (See: Guide).

Print or Electronic Publications in Law Libraries 

  • Search a library catalog (IUCAT or WorldCat) to find print or electronic sources of compiled legislative histories.  
    • In IUCAT search for the phrase "legislative history" AND the name of an act ("clean water act") or a descriptive word or phrase (copyright or "copyright revision")
      • For example, results for the search "legislative history" AND "copyright revision" include compiled legislative histories published as committee prints and monographs as well as documents and compiled legislative histories published in HeinOnline, ProQuest Congressional, and ProQuest Legislative Insight.  


Westlaw and Lexis


Access legislative history content through the “Content types” tab > under the Specialty areas category > select Legislative History

  • Under the Federal category you can select: Congressional Record, U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (contains public laws & select committee reports), U.S. Congressional Testimony (transcripts from Congressional committee hearings)
  • Westlaw’s two compiled legislative history collections are:
    • U.S. GAO Federal Legislative Histories: contains compiled histories of most U.S. public laws enacted between 1921 and 1995.
    • Arnold & Porter Legislative Histories: thirty-two legislative histories of well-known acts, 1972 to current.  


Access legislative history content through Explore: “Content” tab:

  • From Content tab > choose Statutes & Legislation > under the “Content Type” category you can select Bill Text, Bill Tracking, Congressional Record, “Legislative Histories,” Public Laws/ALS

  • Under the Content Type category, choose “Legislative Histories” to access a collection of compiled legislative histories, plus research tools (indexes) and the full text of Congressional documents