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American Women: Resources from the General Collections

Congressional Documents

Frances Benjamin Johnston. Group of Emigrants (Women and Children) from Eastern Europe on Deck of the S.S. Amsterdam. 1899. Johnston (Frances Benjamin) Collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Throughout its history, Congress has held hearings and debated matters of import to women. Witnesses have argued for and against these subjects, and the full text of this testimony, both of individual women (and men) and of representatives of women's (and men's) organizations, can be found through multiple Congressional Information Service indexes. These sources index U.S. congressional documents (hearings, reports, documents, and committee prints; published and unpublished) from 1789 to the present.

Some examples of hearing topics include suffrage, prostitution, abortion, education, war pensions, immigration, pornography, and pure food and milk.

The Congressional Record

The Congressional Record, with floor debates and statements read into the record, reveals the plans, words, and opinions of congressional representatives. For example, in proposing the creation of a United States Women's Armed Forces Academy in 1955, Senator Dennis Chavez praised the "spontaneous patriotism of our womanhood," adding that "women yield nothing to men in that direction. Always and always and always, American women have stood with their men in all things contributing to the welfare and security of our country." Since 1917, the voices of the women who have served in Congress appear here as well.

Earlier versions of the Congressional Record are also available in microform and online (linked below and presented in chronological order):

Congressional Documents

Congressional documents, especially hearings, may contribute details on many topics outside the legal or political realm, such as rhetoric used by women, descriptions of family life and concerns, and ways women are treated in public. Hearings may contain reproductions of photographs, statistics, charts, or maps. See the essay "Marching for the Vote" for examples of types of information found in one hearing.

Print editions of many congressional documents are fully cataloged and can be found in the online and card catalogs using LC subject headings.

Subscription Databases

Additional congressional documents are available through online subscription databases that may be accessed at the Library of Congress. The subscription resources marked with a padlock  are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress.  If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.