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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
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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