Research guides

Federal Legislative History

Already Compiled Histories

The following resources pull together documents related to particular legislation. They may be used as a way to begin research; however, these resources may or may not include every document related to the passage of a law and also may not include full-text documents. Some compiled legislative histories provide only citations or abstracts, so further research may be required to obtain the complete documents. For more information on where to find particular documents, see the Congressional Documents guide.

Free Online Resources

Legislative Histories of Select U.S. Laws on the Internet: Free Sources Law Librarians’ Society of Washington D.C.
Listed by Popular Name or Public Law number. Cites to legislative history documents available for free online, including those available through the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

Member Databases

U.S. Federal Legislative History Library
Available on HeinOnline. Under "Browse Databases by Name," select U.S. Federal Legislative History Library. From there, choose either U.S. Federal History Title Collection (Search or browse full-text legislative histories by Public Law number, Publication Title, or Popular Name) or Sources of Compiled Legislative History Database (Lists compilations for major laws, but the full text of documents may not be available through HeinOnline). For more information about these collections, please see the Jenkins Law Library Video Tip: HeinOnline's Federal Legislative History Library for a detailed tutorial on YouTube.

ProQuest Congressional
Already compiled legislative histories from 1970 - present. Available only for bills enacted into law. Legislative histories may span across several Congressional sessions. "Replica of the Original" (PDF) and full text coverage for items in the history depends on Jenkins' coverage of the specific document type. See the Using ProQuest Congressional page of this guide for more information.

Onsite Lexis & Westlaw

CIS/Historical Index
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Content Type tab, select Statutes & Legislation > Legislative Histories > CIS/Historical Index.
Legislative histories by Congressional Information Service (CIS). Provides access to bibliographic records for six major bodies of congressional documents: U.S. Serial Set, including Reported Bill Numbers (1789-1969), Senate Executive Documents and Reports (1817-1969), U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings (1833-1969), Unpublished U.S. Senate Committee Hearings (1823-1972), Unpublished U.S. House Committee Hearings (1833-1958), and U.S. Congressional Committee Prints (1830-1969). Due to vendor restrictions some materials may be unavailable.

US - CIS/Index
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Content Type tab, select Statutes & Legislation > Legislative Histories > US - CIS/Index.
Legislative histories by Congressional Information Service (CIS) from 1970-present. May include abstracts of hearings, reports, prints, and documents, but does not include full-text. See the other tabs of this guide to find resources for full-text documents. Due to changes in publisher, check currency of file before use. See database scope note for update on coverage.

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the All Content tab, select Legislative History  > U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News.
USCCAN includes public laws, House and Senate reports, executive orders, and more. Also includes Legislative History Tables as printed in U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News. Coverage varies by type. See Scope Notes for more information.

US GAO Federal Legislative Histories
Librarians at Jenkins can search for a fee. Please contact Research Services at 215.574.1505 or research@jenkinslaw.org for more information.
From the All Content tab, select Legislative History > U.S. GAO Federal Legislative Histories.
Coverage includes most public laws enacted between 1921 and 1995 and PL 104-191 (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Legislative histories compiled by U.S. Government Accountability Office include the text of laws, bills, committee reports, Congressional Record documents, transcripts of hearings, and other documents. 

Arnold & Porter Legislative Histories
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the All Content tab, select Legislative History > Arnold & Porter Legislative Histories (located in the Tools & Resources box on the right). Select legislative histories on various acts, such as Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 and 1990.

Print

U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.) West/Thomson Reuters
Separate catalog records for U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News (1952-current), U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative Service (1951), and U.S. Code Congressional Service (1941-1950). Also available on the library's Westlaw computers. References select documents associated with an act. Does not provide complete lists of all legislative history materials. Includes select reports.

Research Tip

Legislative histories may be available in printed volumes organized by call number or subject matter throughout the library, i.e. Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income and Excess Profits Tax Laws (on HeinOnline) or Collier on Bankruptcy (Legislative History - Appendix volumes in print or on the library's Lexis computers). Search our catalog or check with a reference librarian.