Skip to Main Content

Compiling a Federal Legislative History: A Beginner’s Guide

Locating a Compiled Federal Legislative History

There are many sources of pre-compiled legislative histories available that you will want to check before compiling your own. These compilations range from finding aids that help you locate a pre-compiled legislative history to monographs that contain the legislative history for one act.

Below, please find selected legislative history compilations, with coverage descriptions. The first two compilations must be accessed via print copies or through a subscription resource, while the third is available online for free.

The Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C. (LLSDC) has, for several years, provided a helpful online guide to the compiled legislative history reports freely available on the Internet:

This guide is laid out both by popular name and by public law number of the legislation at issue. LLSDC also provides a list of commercial resources that list compiled legislative histories, which can be accessed via subscription databases.

Several federal agencies have compiled legislative histories for legislation relevant to their functions. The following list includes links to legislative histories available on federal government websites, arranged alphabetically.

Monographs containing compiled legislative histories for an individual piece of legislation are available in the Law Library of Congress collection. Simply use the advanced search feature of the Library of Congress online catalog, and search the term “legislative history” along with the popular name or public law number of the act in which you are interested.

For larger pieces of legislation, you can also use the browse feature of the online catalog to search for a legislative history-related subject heading. To do so, simply select “SUBJECTS containing” from the pull-down menu to the left of the search box, type the popular name of the act and “legislative history” into the search box, and click “Search.”

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.