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Federal Legislative History
To learn more about the purpose and methods for researching U.S. legislative history, talk to one of our reference librarians or consult this report (PDF download) from the Congressional Research Service, Legislative History Research: A Guide to Resources for Congressional Staff.
The Many Different Types of Legislative History
- Major pieces of legislation
- Normally multi-volume
- Resources such as ProQuest, Hein, Print resources
- Legislative Documents (What they are)
- The Bill Itself; voting records
- Committee Hearing
- Committee Report
- Committee Prints
- Congressional Research Service Reports
- Floor Debates - Congressional Record
- Signing Statements
- Legislative Documents (Where to find them)
- Print / Microfiche / Microfilm
- Digging Deeper
- Sutherland Statues and Statutory Construction (Print & Westlaw)
- Statutory Interpretation: The Search for Legislative Intent, Brown
Legislative Insight This link opens in a new window
Legislative Insight, a part of ProQuest Congressional, is a comprehensive database tool for researching United State Federal Legislative History.
U.S. Federal Legislative History Library - HeinOnline This link opens in a new window
In addition to the inclusion of comprehensive federal legislative histories published by the U.S. GPO and private publishers, this library also includes a unique finding aid based on Nancy Johnson's award-winning work, Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories. Researchers should begin their U.S. federal legislative history research with this finding aid, which often includes references to law review articles on-point to a particular legislative history.
Every CRS Report This link opens in a new window
Congressional Research Service reports are the best way for anyone to quickly get up to speed on major political issues without having to worry about spin — from the same source Congress uses. CRS is Congress’ think tank, and its reports are relied upon by academics, businesses, judges, policy advocates, students, librarians, journalists, and policymakers for accurate and timely analysis of important policy issues. The reports are not classified and do not contain individualized advice to any specific member of Congress. EveryCRSReport.com includes 8,277 CRS reports. The number changes regularly.
Proquest Congressional Resources This link opens in a new window
Proquest provides comprehensive access to United States legislative information which is available from the publisher, Congressional Information Service, Inc. (CIS). Congressional information, including hearings and reports, is available in full text; the Serial Set goes all the way back to 1789. This is an excellent resource for compiling federal legislative histories or for researching the changes and attempted changes in federal laws. If you need assistance in using Congressional, please ask a reference librarian. This Database was formerly known as CIS Congressional Universe.
U.S. Congressional Documents - HeinOnline This link opens in a new window
This collection features the complete Congressional Record Bound version, as well as the daily version back to 1980. It also includes the three predecessor titles: Annals of Congress (1789-1824), Register of Debates (1824-1837) Congressional Globe (1833-1873), and Congressional Hearings (1927-2015), as well as other important congressional material. Using the Daily-to-Bound Locator Tool, you can quickly find a page in the Bound volume from the Daily edition.
Committee information, bill tracking, treaty documents, Congressional Record, etc. "Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service."
You may also want to find this information for maritime treaties. Materials for treaties that typically include records of negotiations, discussions, and drafts are called travaux préparatoires. For a full discussion on finding these materials, see the Public International Law Guide - Treaties section. It includes a discussion on finding working documents and implementing legislation. As with the text of treaties, this discussion applies to all areas of the law (not just public international). A few examples of helpful resources are listed below, including some electronic and print materials.
All original content copyright 2022 Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Library. This guide may be used for educational purposes, as long as proper credit is given. This guide may not be sold. Requests to republish or adapt a guide should be directed to the Library Director. Proper credit includes the statement: Written by, or adapted from, Loyola University New Orleans Law Library.