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Legislative History: Compiled Legislative Histories

Legislative history details and resources at Paley Library

No need to reinvent the wheel

When doing legislative history research, there's often no need to start from scratch. Prepared legislative histories range from a list of documents associated with a law, to gathered reprints of those documents, to narrative commentary on the ratification process. Check first for compiled legislative histories (gathered documents) in these resources.


Library Search

Print and electronic compiled legislative histories in Paley Library are found via the Diamond catalog.

Print histories (often multi-volume) are found in Library of Congress call number order in the open stacks. Here's an example.


ProQuest Congressional, including the U.S. Serial Set digital collection
ProQuest Legislative Insight

This integrated electronic and microfiche collection provides extensive legislative history resources. Search for materials by keyword, Public Law number, document number, and SuDoc number. Legislative Insight provides compiled histories. The CIS microfiche set provides many documents not included in the online collection. In addition to hearings and reports, these resources contain citations to discussion in the Congressional Record and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.


Serial Set, Third Floor, J66
Serial set, ground floor, U547

Finding Aids

These finding aids point you toward compiled legislative histories or lists of documents associated with bills and laws.

Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories

by Nancy P. Johnson (1979, suppl. 2007)

Congressional Record History of House and Senate Bills

This finding aid in the Congressional Record provides references to discussions and citations to the House or Senate Reports associated with a particular bill. Each session has this index.
Ground floor, C6547
Ground floor, Per. 18

CCH Congressional Index

This looseleaf service is useful in providing up-to-date information on the status of current bills. For past Congresses, this index provides bill status and calendar and action information that will aid in finding full documents. There are two volumes for each Congress, one for action in the Senate and one for the House. Bills are indexed by subject, summarized and linked to associated reports.

Digest of Public General Bills and Resolutions

A historical index following the legislation status. Printed each year; two parts per Congress.

Narrative histories

Law review articles may trace the development of a specific law.  Search the standard legal literature databases in HeinOnline (Law Journal Library), LexisNexis Academic: Law Reviews to find such articles. 


Narrative accounts may also be included as chapters in books.  Use the Diamond catalog to find books on your topic.


Over the years the U.S. Department of Justice staff compiled legislative histories. The very select list of histories available is at the DOJ website