This article is republished with permission by W.S. Hein. View the original article here.
The much-anticipated release of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set in HeinOnline (Phase I) is here! The Serial Set is an enormous undertaking, which is why it’s being released in phases.
Included in Phase I:
- Complete indexing of the more than 17,000 volumes of the Serial Set
- Full 40-year (1978-2018) content archive in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format
- Complete coverage of the American State Papers
- 86% of the Serial Set in HeinOnline or via HathiTrust Digital Library
- 27% of the volumes in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format
Moving forward, we will add newly released material, as well as fill in any missing volumes between 1817 and 1977.
The Phase I launch also includes custom features not available in any other resource.
- Volume Quick Locator, which enables users to simply enter a Serial Set volume number to retrieve the content
- Citation Quick Locator, which provides users the ability to enter a House or Senate document/report citation for quick document retrieval
- Multiple browse options to accommodate different research methods
- Color-coded H indicators to help users determine volume and document availability
- HeinOnline’s user-friendly advanced search tool, which makes it easy to use the extensive metadata indexing or choose specific section types for quick and detailed searches
HeinOnline would like to give a special thanks to Wayne State University and the University of Utah for their generous contributions which resulted in the initial release of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set. We will continue to need help from the library community to complete this project. We are constantly updating the list of volumes available in HeinOnline, as well as the volumes needed. Stay updated with this ever-changing list.
About the Collection
U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1817-Date)
The United States Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as the Serial Set, is considered an essential publication for unveiling American history. Spanning more than two centuries and with more than 17,000 bound volumes, the records in this series include House and Senate Documents, as well as House and Senate Reports, and much more. The reports are usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. The documents include all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate. Documents cover a wide variety of topics, including reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set.
American State Papers (1789-1838)
U.S. Congressional Documents from the period 1789 to 1817 are published under the title American State Papers, which consists of 38 volumes. The two series overlap, as American State Papers covers through 1838. Full coverage of the American State Papers is available within this collection inside HeinOnline.
Researching in the Serial Set
Select the U.S. Congressional Serial Set from the HeinOnline welcome page to access all content in the database. The default landing page of the Serial Set directs users to the full list of Congress numbers available within the collection.
Located on separate tabs users will also notice Congressional Documents and Congressional Reports from the 114th-115th Congresses which are available in HeinOnline, but have not yet been assigned a Serial Set citation. The American State Papers, which encompass the 1st-25th Congresses, are also available.
Let’s browse the content. Select the 27th Congress.
Users are directed to the complete list of volumes for the 27th Congress.
While searching or browsing the Serial Set in HeinOnline, colored icons appear next to various records. These icons indicate whether full-text coverage or indexing only is currently available for the material. Let’s select volume 403. This brings users to a complete list of titles within the volume. Availability is indicated by “H” icons.
Volume & Citation Quick Locator tools are provided, which enable users to simply enter a Serial Set volume number or citation to retrieve the content.
Using the Volume Quick Locator, let’s search for volume 403. Enter the number into the search box and click Go. Similar to the browsing example above, users are provided a list of titles for volume 403. However, using the Volume Quick Locator allows users to quickly retrieve the titles, rather than finding the Congress and volume number first.
Now, let’s locate House Report 106-243. Using the Citation Quick Locator, enter H. Rept. 106-243 into the search back and click Go.
Next, users are directed to the description of the House Report. Access the title by clicking on the blue hyperlink.
If uncertain about which citation to use, simply plug in the document numbers. Using the same example above, type in 106-243 into the Citation Quick Locator.
Users are provided a list of results which match the citation numbers. From here, choose the desired document.
Searching the Metadata
The Serial Set contains information on a wide range of topics, including history, anthropology, science and technology, Native American studies, slavery, and many more. For example, using the Full Text tab in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set database, enter “Lewis and Clark” and click the search button.
Results include relevant documents such as:
- Consideration of bill to provide for Lewis and Clark Exposition: House Report No. 58-2327
- United States to Participate in Lewis and Clark Exposition: House Report No. 58-1965
- Medal in Commemoration of Lewis and Clark Expedition: House report No. 71-1378
Selecting the Advanced Search link located beneath the main search bar allows users to search particular fields within the metadata (indexing) for more precise results. Users can also choose the method in which to sort search results from the Advanced Search area by relevance, volume date (oldest or newest first), or by document title.
Interpreting the Icons
Blue and Orange Icon: This icon indicates that this Serial Set volume has been digitized and is available within the HeinOnline database as well as the HathiTrust Digital Library.
Blue Icon: This icon indicates that this Serial Set volume has been digitized and is available within the HeinOnline database.
Partially Blue Icon: This icon indicates that this Serial Set volume is partially available within the HeinOnline database.
Orange Icon: This icon indicates that this Serial Set volume is available in HathiTrust Digital Library and will link to the specific Serial Set volume within the collection.
Red Icon: This icon indicates that this volume/document was assigned a serial number but it was not distributed or used.
Gray Icon: This icon indicates that this Serial Set volume is not yet available in HeinOnline or the HathiTrust Digital Library.
The number of full-text volumes of the Serial Set in HeinOnline will continue to grow monthly by nearly 350,000 pages, or four million pages each year. Moving forward, we will add newly released material, as well as fill in any missing volumes between 1817 and 1977.
Phase I of this project will not include oversized foldouts or maps; we plan to include this content in future releases. Users will be notified on the status of the Serial Set project via email, the monthly HeinOnline Newsletter, and the HeinOnline blog.