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Legislative Histories: 03 - List of bills, hearings, etc

Step-by-Step Research about a Federal Law

Begin Step-by-Step Research -- Research Tips

  1. Identify the Public Law number
  2. Locate and read overviews of the bill's history
    - Congressional Quarterly Almanac
    - U.S. Code Congressional & Administrative News
  3. Retrieve a compiled legislative history list of bills, hearings, reports, debate, etc.
    - CIS Index: Legislative Histories
  4. Retrieve the Bill Tracking Report
    - ProQuest Congressional
  5. Retrieve the brief "Guide to Legislative History" list of bills, reports and debate
    - U.S. Statutes at Large
  6. Retrieve the list of reports and documents by bill number(s)
    - CIS U.S. Serial Set Index, Part XIII, Index by Reported Bill Numbers, 1817-1969
  7. Retrieve the list of reports, documents, and hearings by subject
    - ProQuest Congressional, Historical Indexes, 1789-1969
    - CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings Index, 1833-1969
  8. Retrieve articles from journals & newspapers
  9. Search for information from organizations concerned with the issue
    - Gale Directory Library
  10. Check other resources for information
    - Thomas
    - GPO Access
    - Other sites

Retrieve a compiled legislative history list of bills, hearings, reports, debate, etc.

You might find the following useful as part of your research:

CIS Index: Legislative Histories -- U.S. Documents Reference KF 49 .C62 (1969+)

(1984+) provides very helpful summaries of legislative histories for Public Laws passed since 1984. The same information is available online using ProQuest Congressional, but a photocopy of the print version usually provides a descriptive checklist more concisely than printouts of the descriptions behind each of the links in the online version.

(1969-1983) Basic checklists for legislative histories of Public Laws passed between 1969 and 1983 are available online and in the back of the Abstract volumes of the print version.

See also CCH Congressional Index -- Reference J 69 .C6 (1969+).

The UCF Library has the full text available on microfiche for almost all of the publications cited in this index.

Online access to committee reports and Congressional Record debates is common, but retrieving the full text of most hearings will require using the microfiche.

ProQuest Congressional often includes a link within the hearing description to "Retrieve the full text of testimony", but it usually doesn't include the testimony of all witnesses. It also doesn't include the supplementary materials from the hearing, which often can be the most helpful material available in the hearing.

Although ProQuest Congressional does not have the full text of hearings, the full text of some (NOT ALL) hearings published since 1997 might be available through other sources.

TIP #7: Read carefully through the descriptive notes in the Legislative History from CIS/ProQuest for your Public Law

The bill became a law, so support for it obviously existed. It is sometimes more difficult to determine what, if any, opposition existed.

  • In the text describing committee reports, look for clues near the end of the report description listing "dissenting" or "minority" views.
  • In the text describing committee hearings, the "Statements and Discussion" section following each group of witnesses might help identify "concerns", "opposition", "implementation issues", etc.
  • If it is not clear whether or not a witness fully supported all aspects of the proposed legislation, the organizational affiliation of the witness might help you guess whether the individual was likely to support particular issues.

TIP #8: See the information about Potential Research Problems regarding incomplete citations

See the information about Potential Research Problems regarding incomplete citations.

Is the Public Law earlier than P.L. 101-1 (1989)?