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*Government Information: Federal

Finding Federal government information and resources, both current and historical, including Census and statistical resources.

Historical Congressional Research

When researching bills that passed or were originated before about 1995, it may be necessary to put aside online resources and crack a few books! Here is some information on where to find information on historic bills.

 

Debates

The Congressional Record and its predecessors contain a record of the proceedings of Congress. These are not verbatim transcripts, as members are allowed to edit their remarks and insert remarks not actually spoken.

Available in the Valley Library (print & microfilm/microfiche):

  • Congressional Record, 1873 - 1985 -- J11 .R5
  • The Congressional Globe, 1834 - 1873 -- J11 .G5
  • Register of Debates, 1824 - 1838 -- Microfilm J11 .D5
  • Annals of Congress, 1789 - 1824 -- J11 .A5

Online:

Finding aids: each volume contains an index

 

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set: Congressional Documents and Committee Reports, pre-1979 

The United States Congressional Serial Set is a compilation of Congressional Reports and Documents. It does not include hearings, debates and committee prints.

  • Reports - House and Senate Reports are committee reports on proposed legislation. Once a bill is "reported" it can be sent to the floor of the House or Senate for debate or voting.
  • Documents - House and Senate Documents are publications printed by order of Congress. They include reports of executive branch agencies, special studies done for Congress, and reports of some non-governmental groups

Database:

U.S. Congressional Serial Set from Readex has full text and excellent indexing and browsability.

In Paper:

The Serial Set is located on the 3rd floor of the Valley Library, in locked shelves. Access is provided through the Special Collections & Archives Research Center. Researchers are encouraged to contact them to make an appointment.

OSU has Serial Set volumes through the 96th Congress (1979) (with gaps).

Finding Aids:

 

Hearings

Published committee hearings include transcripts of testimony, question and answer sessions, and any supplementary material inserted into the record. Not all hearings are published. Since congressional committees do not have a statutory requirement to publish hearings, it is not certain that a hearing that is held has been or will ever be officially published.

OSU has hearings from about 1980 - 1999 on microfiche. We also have a collection of selected pre-1980 hearings. Most are not cataloged, but are kept in the Documents stacks arranged by committee name and title. A few have been added to the online catalog, so please check there as well.

Finding Aids:

  • CIS US Congressional Committee Hearings Index covers 1953-1969. KF40 .C56 1981
  • Hearings card file (in the Docs shelf list) indexes pre 1953 hearings that OSU Libraries has (requires staff assistance; please contact the Government Information librarian if you wish to access this resource).

 

Committee Prints

Congressional Committee Prints are publications issued by committees in Congress that include topics related to their legislative or research activities, as well as other matters such as memorial tributes. The prints are an excellent resource for statistical and historical information, and for legislative analysis. The subjects of the Committee Prints vary greatly due to the different concerns and actions of each committee. Some basic categories of Congressional Committee Prints are: draft reports and bills, directories, statistical materials, investigative reports, historical reports, situational studies, confidential staff reports, hearings, and legislative analyses.

Many committee prints are not widely distributed and are not made available to libraries.

Pre-1980 Prints: OSU has a collection of selected pre-1980 prints that are kept in the Documents stacks arranged by committee name and title. A few have been cataloged, so please check the online catalog as well.

1980-1999: OSU has some prints for these years on microfiche. Check the catalog for availability.

Finding Aids:

 

Bills

For years previous to 1987, text of bills may be included in the Congressional Record or in Senate and House reports, prints and hearings. (See under Debates for information on accessing Congressional Record.)

 

Statutes at Large

Permanent, official collection of all laws and resolutions (public and private) enacted during each session of Congress.

Online:

  • Library of Congress, vol.1 (1789) to 18 (1875)
  • Fill this gap between LC and FDsys with searchable PDFs of most of the volumes on the website of the Constitution Society. While these are PDFs of the published volumes, they are not regarded as "official." http://www.constitution.org/uslaw/sal/sal.htm
  • FDsys: vol.65 (1951) to vol.125 (2011).  Web-based access to official, digitally-signed versions in browsable and searchable PDFs. 

Microfilm:

  • KF50 .U5  vol. 1-27

In print:

  • KF50 .U5 vol. 28-49; vol. 50-present