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Legislative Histories: 1789-1816

Researching Public Laws Enacted in 1789-1816

Identify the Public Law number and the bill number

To determine the number of the Public Law, use one of the following:

  • Shepard's Acts and Cases By Popular Names, Federal & State...
    Reference KF 80 .S5
    provides the citation, including Public Law number.
  • The title and synopsis of laws in U.S. Statutes at Large back to 1789 can be searched by keyword or citation at ProQuest Congressional.
  • U.S.C.S. - United States Code Service
    Reference KF 62 1972 .L38
    provides the full text of laws currently in effect, arranged by subject. The Public Law numbers for a specific section appear in a history note following the text of the law.

Two other listings of federal laws by name are

Retrieve the list of reports, documents, and hearings by subject

ProQuest Congressional, Historical Indexes, 1789-1969

This online index can be used to identify Congressional publications prior to 1969.

The UCF Library has the full text of the Serial Set and published committee hearings available on microfiche, with much of the Serial Set also available online.

The unpublished hearings and pre-1969 committee prints are not currently available at UCF.

NOTE: The indexing by keyword and bill number is not comprehensive, so be creative in your search strategy.

Retrieve articles from journals and newspapers

If you haven't already done so, consider reviewing your topic in a specialized encyclopedia, e.g.,

Search for articles discussing the legislation in journals and newspapers. These articles may help in your analysis of the legislative history documents gathered in the previous steps.

Other articles

Continue your research by looking for articles in other journals and newspapers.

Research Guides

Databases -- Some of the databases and indexes available at UCF can be used to locate professional journals in political science or in the discipline of the legislative topic. Note that you may find articles in more recent journal issues looking back at laws enacted much earlier than the publication date of the journal. Examples of some databases to consider include: