Introduction to Legislative Histories

This guide focuses on legislative history research.

To see if a legislative history has already been compiled:

If you have: From: You can use:
Public Law Number

major legislation

only - any date

Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories
  1941 or later US Code Congressional of Administrative News
  1970-1983 CIS Annual Abstracts volumes (1970-1983), "Legislative Histories" section
  1983 or later CIS Legislative Histories volumes
  1970 or later Lexis-Nexis Congressional Universe "CIS Index" database
  1973 or later Thomas - "Public Laws by Law Number"

Statutes at Large

Citation

major legislation only - any date Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories
  1941 or later US Code Congressional and Administrative News
  1970 or later Lexis-Nexis Congressional Universe "CIS Index" database
Popular Name major legislation only - any date Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories
Year or Congress and Bill Number 1973 or later Thomas - "Bill Summary and Status"
  1970 or later Lexis-Nexis Congressional Universe "CIS Index" database

 

 

To find a Public Law Number:

 

If you have: From: You can use:
US Code citation   The credits/history citations at end of code section text in U.S.C., U.S.C.A., or U.S.C.S.
Popular Name   Shepard's Act and Cases by Popular Name; Popular Names Tableof the US Code, US Code Annotated, and US Code Service
  legislation enacted in 1983 or later CIS Index to Legislative Histories volumes - "Index to Subjects and Names" table
  legislation enacted in 1937 or later CCH Congressional Index - Enactments section; "Name of Law Amended/Enacted"
Year or Congress and Bill Number legislation enacted in 1983 or later CIS Index to Legislative Histories volumes - "Index to Bill Numbers"
  legislation enacted from 1970-1983 CIS Cumulative Index volumes - Supplementary Indexes section - "Index to Bill Numbers"
  legislation enacted in 1983 or later Congressional Record - "History of Bills and Resolutions" section
  legislation enacted in 1973 or later GPO Access - History of Bill and Resolutions database
  legislation enacted since 1941 Thomas - "Summary of Bills and Status"
  legislation enacted since 1937 US Code Congressional and Administrative News - "Bills and Joint Resolutions Enacted" table
    CCH Congressional Index - Enactments section; "Enactments by Bill/Resolution Number"

Types of Documents

Type of Document: In library (print or microfiche) On Thomas In CIS(Congressional Information Service) In Congressional Serial Set
Bills, resolutions Varies From 101st Congress (1989) onward in PDF (via the GPO) From January 1970 onward on microfiche From 1817 (15th Congress) to 1969 (91st Congress) on microfiche.  Documents between 1789-1817 must be ordered.
Roll call votes Contained in Congressional Record (available via the GPO and LexisNexis Congressional and from 1949 onward in microfiche) From 101st Congress (1989) onward (via the Senate andHouse websites) Not available Not available
Committee Reports Varies, the United States Government Publications Serial Set includes Senate and House reports (and the journals) from 1817 onward (on microfiche) From 104th Congress (1995) onward in PDF (via the GPO) From January 1970 onward on microfiche From 1817 (15th Congress) to 1969 (91st Congress) on microfiche.  Documents between 1789-1817 must be ordered.
Treaties From 1778-1949 in Statutes at Large (in print or online via HeinOnline or the American Memory Project), from 1946 onward on TIAS (on microfiche), from 1989 onward on Hein Treaty Series (on microfiche), in PDF format via Hein's US Treaties Collection, and a number of other sources may have treaties. From 90th Congress (1968) onward in HTML From January 1970 onward on microfiche From 1817 (15th Congress) to 1969 (91st Congress) on microfiche.  Documents between 1789-1817 must be ordered.
Presidential Nominations (ambassadors, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices) Contained in Congressional Recordalso available in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States from 1929 onward (on microfiche), and on Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents from 1965 onward (in print and microfiche). From 100th Congress (1987) onward in HTML Not available Not available
Congressional Record From 1949 onward on microfiche, from 1873 onward in PDF format on HeinOnline From 101st Congress (1989) onward in PDF (via the GPO) Not available Not available

Heafey Law Library Research Team