Monday, July 1, 2013

ProQuest Legislative Insight: A Window into History

The Goodson Law Library is pleased to announce campus-wide access to the database ProQuest Legislative Insight, a collection of nearly 20,000 compiled legislative histories for federal laws. Coverage is strongest from 1929-present, but the database also includes selected compilations dating back to 1897.

Like its sister database ProQuest Congressional, Legislative Insight provides a handy list of congressional documents (bills, reports, debates, and hearings) which are associated with a particular law. However, Legislative Insight provides the full text of all associated documents in the compiled legislative history – even those document types which are not available in the Congressional interface (such as reports and debates, which Duke researchers previously had to access through other resources).

To view the difference in action, compare search results in each database for Public Law 78-110. On this day in 1943, Congress established the Women's Army Corps, which formally incorporated the previous civilian Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (created in 1942) to be a full part of the U.S. Army. The change allowed WAC's volunteer forces to be eligible for the same benefits which were available to male members of the Army.

ProQuest Congressional returns 6 results for this Public Law. Three are available in full text: the session law from the U.S. Statutes at Large and two congressional hearings. The other three results are committee reports, which are unavailable in full text at Duke through ProQuest Congressional, but could be obtained by visiting the separate database U.S. Congressional Serial Set Digital Collection. Debates from the Congressional Record are not available at Duke through ProQuest Congressional, but could be obtained from HeinOnline's U.S. Congressional Documents library.

ProQuest Legislative Insight's result page for Public Law 78-110, however, includes 18 publications related to this act, all of which are available as full-text PDFs. It includes the reports and debates which are missing from ProQuest Congressional at Duke, as well as alternate versions of the bill which became the enacted law.

ProQuest Legislative Insight does not include materials which are unrelated to an enacted law, so ProQuest Congressional is still a very useful resource for locating information about legislative history documents related to unenacted legislation. But if you are researching a federal law which was enacted during the time period of coverage, Legislative Insight is a very convenient starting point to access the relevant documents from the U.S. Congress.

ProQuest Legislative Insight has been added to the Goodson Law Library's Legal Databases & Links page as well as its extensive research guide to Federal Legislative History. For help using Legislative Insight, or any other federal legislative history research resource, be sure to Ask a Librarian.