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The Executive Branch includes the White House and most government agencies.
The Legislative Branch includes Congress and its related offices and departments. Look there for bills and laws.
Congress.gov (formerly Thomas) 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.
The Judicial Branch is the U.S. courts (at the federal level; the state and local courts are not included except when their rulings are appealed)
Federal Judicial Center -- Education and research agency for the federal courts, this site contains the results of Center research on federal court operations and procedures and court history, as well as selected educational materials produced for judges and court employees. Find here Biographies of federal judges since 1789.
Primary sources are the original, first-hand accounts of a subject or event. They can include letters, diaries, manuscripts, autobiographies, interviews, opinions, surveys, investigations, court testimony and depositions, government documents, and more.
Primary sources are characterized by their content, regardless of whether they are available in original format, in microfilm/microfiche, in digital format, or in published format.
For a more detailed explanation on how to locate and use primary sources, you should look at the guide, Using Primary Sources in Your Research
Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register (generally abbreviated FR) is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.
It is updated daily by 6 a.m. and is published Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The rules and regulations included are regulatory documents having general applicability and legal effect. Most rules are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). All new regulations must be published in the Register before they can go into effect. Many people also search the Federal Register for announcements of grants in the Notices section.
More information about the history of the Federal Register and what is contained in it can be found at http://www.llsdc.org/fr-cfr-research-guide.
Valley Library: has copies of the Federal Register in paper and in microfiche (J1 .A2) as far back as the 1980s. See catalog record for details.
There are several sources of the Federal Register available online.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) annual edition is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. The 50 subject matter titles contain one or more individual volumes, which are updated once each calendar year, on a staggered basis.
There are several ways to access the CFR:
Official version, in print: KF70 .A3. Only the latest edition is kept.
Online version of the print edition, updated on the same schedule as the print version (annually on a quarterly basis). This online collection contains editions dating back to 1996. Available through FDsys in PDF
eCFR: continuously updated, current CFR. It is NOT the official legal edition of the CFR, but it is the most up-to-date. www.ecfr.gov.
The CFR can also be searched in LexisNexis Academic in the Federal Statutes, Codes & Regulations section (along with the Annotated U.S. Code (USCS), the US Constitution, Public Laws, and the Federal Register)
The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. The Congressional Record began publication in 1873 and is still published today.
At the end of each session of Congress, all of the daily editions are collected, re-paginated, and re-indexed into a permanent, bound edition. This permanent edition, referred to as the Congressional Record (Bound Edition), is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts, each part containing approximately 10 to 20 days of Congressional proceedings. The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination; somewhat edited, revised, and rearranged text; and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers.
When searching over the Congressional Record (Bound Edition) on govinfo, you will be searching over the official business for each day's proceedings of Congress. This includes the House, Senate, and Extensions of remarks sections.
Searches in govinfo over Congressional Record (Bound Edition) from 1999 forward will not search over other sections which are part of the official printed edition. These include the History of Bills, the compilation of Daily Digests, the resume of all business transacted during the entire Congress, and the subject index to the Bound Edition.
Volumes 144 (1998) and prior are made available as digitized versions of the Congressional Record (Bound Edition) created as a result of a partnership between GPO and the Library of Congress. These volumes include all parts of the official printed edition.
Legislative history refers to the progress of a bill through the legislative process and to the documents that are created during that process. Attorneys, judges, and others often turn to these documents to learn why Congress enacted a particular law or to aid in the interpretation of a law.
The components of legislative history for a bill (in order of their importance) are:
Because compiling legislative histories takes a lot of time, consider looking for already-compiled histories first. Here are some places to look. They may lead you to sources that reprint or identify legislative history documents:
The Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (LLSDC) has Legislative Histories of Selected U.S. Laws in Electronic Format. Selected laws are organized in alphabetical and public law number order and primarily come from (and are linked to) the Department of Commerce Law Library online catalog. The site also contains many explanatory notes while each law contains links to related bill information on the Library of Congress THOMAS site, to a current related U.S. Code site, and to a current related C.F.R. site. The site is part of the LLSDC's Legislative Source Book (http://www.llsdc.org/sourcebook/).
Print works in the Valley Library:
United States Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCAAN). KF48 .W45. Library owns 1952-2006. Selectively reprints committee reports for enacted legislation.
Federal legislative histories : an annotated bibliography and index to officially published sources / compiled by Bernard D. Reams, Jr. KF42.2 R41 1994. Covers histories published by Congressional committee staff, the Congressional Research Service, or executive agencies. Includes popular name, public law, and bill number indexes. Includes legislative histories for laws passed between 1796 (4th Congress, 1st Session) and 1990 (101st Congress, 2d Session).
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