Friday, May 13, 2016

Expanded Legislative History Access

The Goodson Law Library has added a few new legislative history search options to its collection of electronic resources.

ProQuest Congressional now contains the library of Digital U.S. Bills and Resolutions, 1789-2013. This module includes the full text of all federal bills and resolutions since the 1st Congress, including PDF images of handwritten early bills (see example below).

An Act Making an Alteration in the Flag of the United States (1789). Senate bill from 1st Congress; accessed in ProQuest Congressional.

Use the "Bills & Laws" search option, or choose "Legislative & Executive Publications > Search by number" to retrieve known citations. Results include a "Bill profile" which compiles information about the bill's progress within Congress and subsequent or variant versions. This resource will be particularly valuable for researchers working with bills related to unenacted laws, since many full-text legislative history resources focus only on enacted statutes.

Also within ProQuest Congressional, access to the full-text committee reports in the U.S. Serial Set has expanded up to 1989. Congressional committee reports are considered the most persuasive evidence of legislative intent. Duke University researchers also have electronic access to committee reports within the U.S. Serial Set Digital Collection (1817-1994) and ProQuest Legislative Insight (1897-present, reports related to enacted laws only), with additional coverage within Law School legal research databases like Westlaw. However, additional access to committee reports through the ProQuest interface will be convenient for researchers.

Finally, the ProQuest Legislative Insight database coverage has been extended up to 2016. This database provides compiled legislative histories for nearly 30,000 enacted federal laws, dating from 1897-present.

For more guidance on researching federal legislative history, visit our newly-updated research guide or Ask a Librarian.