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Congressional publications at Amherst College

Congressional publications have grown and changed from 1789 until now, and have been handled by the library and the Government Printing Office in different ways at different times. An array of finding tools developed by the Congressional Information Service (CIS) can help in retrieving these documents. The LLSDC Legislative Sourcebook provides useful links to online hearings and documents from a variety of sources -- mostly from 1997 on.

Hearings
Hearings are the debates and proceedings before committees and subcommittees. The committees ask experts from academia and industry as well as the general public to provide testimony on proposed legislation. They are extremely valuable because committees play a key role in policy making, and testimony provided here is often not available elsewhere. Hearings can also include documentation presented by witnesses such as journal articles and statistics.

Accessing
Some  hearings from the 1920's - 1976 are available in paper on Level C. The call number is 328.Un4ch and they are filed alphabetically by committee name and then chronologically by Congress and session. Some hearings were also selected for cataloging (because of their importance and high use) and can be found through the library catalog, shelved with related material. From 1976-1980 they are for the most part on microfiche by CIS number filed after the SuDoc fiche. Some high use and important hearings from that time period are also on paper and cataloged. From 1981 -- they are on microfiche filed by SuDoc number. The Congressional Hearings databases contain selected House and Senate hearings for the 105th Congress (1997-98) forward on GPO Access or through LLSDC Legislative Sourcebook. Proquest Congressional also has selective coverage online from 1988-1993, and comprehensive coverage from 1993--.

Indexes
From 1833 - 1969 these are indexed in the CIS publication U.S. Congressional Committee Hearings Index. From 1970-- they are indexed in CIS Annual (Ref K49.C62) or Monthly Catalog (Ref Z1223.A18) in paper through 1995, or online from 1976 to present. Hearings are indexed in LexisNexis™ Congressional from 1970 -- but most are not available fulltext until 1993--. From 1998-1993 some selective titles are fulltext.. (Here's the CIS description of what they provide: "Official (i.e., GPO-printed) hearing transcripts usually include witnesses' written and oral statements; the transcript of the verbal question-and-answer (Q&A) session between the committee and the witnesses; related reports, exhibits, and other material submitted for the record; and correspondence. Proquest Congressional contains witness statements, the Q&A transcript, and citations to the CIS microfiche collection of official hearing transcripts".)

Committee Prints
Congressional committee prints are publications issued by congressional committees on topics related to their legislative or research activities. The subjects of the committee prints vary greatly, some basic varieties of committee prints include: draft reports and bills, directories, statistical materials, investigative reports, historical reports, situational studies, confidential staff reports, hearings, and legislative analyses.

Accessing
Scattered paper copies of prints from 1964-1979 are cataloged and in the stacks. From 1980-- they are on microfiche in SuDoc number order. Select committe prints from 1993 -- are available fulltext in Proquest Congressional. From 1995 to current they are also available fulltext from GPO Access.

Indexes
From 1970 -- CIS Annual (Ref K49.C62) or Monthly Catalog (Ref Z1223.A18) in paper through 1996, or online from 1976 to present. In addition to identifying prints of interest, the indexes will also provide the SuDoc number necessary to get the microfiche.

Reports and Documents
Congressional documents originate from congressional committees and cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. There are three types of documents: House and Senate Documents; Senate Executive Documents; and Senate Treaty Documents. Congressional reports originate from congressional committees and deal with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. There are two types of reports House and Senate Reports and Senate Executive Reports. Documents and reports together make up the U.S. Serial Set.

Accessing
The earliest years of the Serial Set are called the American State Papers and are available online from 1789 - 1838.  At Amherst, most of the Serial Set is are at J66 U54 in the Depository. Some important volumes have been taken from the Serial Set and cataloged individually, and some have been transferred to Archives and Special Collections. In addition to call number, individual volumes must be requested by Serial Set number, which can be obtained from the index sources below. To see if we have a particular volume of the Serial Set, check the title in the library catalog to see if it is individually cataloged, and if not, check the catalog to see if that volume number is in the Depository. From 1979-- they are on microfiche by SuDoc number number in the Media Center. These are increasingly available online through the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Indexes
The U.S. Serial Set Index (from CIS) indexes the years 1789-1969. It also provides finding lists that give the Serial Set volume and number from the House and Senate document or report numbers. From 1970-- CIS Annual Index provides indexing to these documents but does not provide the Serial Set volume number -- only the SuDoc number and the CIS microfiche number. So from 1970 - 1978 if a patron has a document or report number, the Numerical Lists from the GPO (Ref Z 1223.A15) will convert that number to a Serial Set number so that they can be requested from the Depostitory. From 1979 -- the SuDoc number from the CIS Index will be enough to retrieve the microfiche. From the 104th Congress (1994-1995) these are also available from GPO Access. And Proquest Congressional has the fulltext of the reports from 1990 --, and the documents from 1995 --. These are also increasingly available online through the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Congressional Record
The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session.

Accessing
The Congressional Record is available in a variety of formats, and also has changed its name over time. The catalog provides holding information. Earlier years had other names: from the 1st Congress (Mar. 3, 1789) -18th Congress, 1st Session (May 27, 1824) it was called the Annals of Congress or The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, and is in the Depository at J11 .A5 (Vol. 1-42). It was called Register of Debates in Congress from the 18th Congress, 2nd session [(Dec. 6-8, 1824)]-25th Congress, 1st session [(Oct. 6, 1837)] and is in the Depository (missing some issues) at J11 .D5
From Vol. 1, no. 1 (Dec. 7, 1833)-42nd Congress, 3rd session (Dec. 2, 1872 to Jan. 17, 1873) it was called the Congressional Globe and is in the Depository at x J11 .G5. It is also available fulltext from GPO Access for 1994 --, and on Proquest Congressional from 1985 --.

Indexes
Indexes are included with the volumes for the Congressional Globe -- each appendix has its own index 1833/1835-1871/1873, in 6 vols. From the 44th Congress, 1st Session (1876) on the Indexes were published separately and are available in the stacks at J11 R 55. There are a few gaps in the holdings -- see catalog for more information. Later years are indexed in CIS Index, Congressional Universe and GPO Access (see above).