Tip of the Week: How to Find the Text of a Public Law When All You Have is the Popular Name

Miscellaneous, Statutes at Large, Tip of the Week, U.S. Federal Legislative History

Have you ever found yourself looking for the text of a public law or an act, but you don’t have the public law number or Statutes at Large citation?  This week’s tip will illustrate how you can utilize two different sources in HeinOnline to search for the text by the popular name.

Watch the Tip of the Week on YouTube, or continue reading below the video for the full-text version.

For our example, we are searching for the text of the Securities Act of 1933.

The first resource you can try is the U.S. Statutes at Large library in HeinOnline.  From the U.S. Statutes at Large landing page, click on Browse by Popular Name, then click on the letter “S”.

 This will display a list of public laws by popular name that begin with S.  The list is lengthy, so to speed it up we can use a quick keyboard shortcut, Ctrl + f, which is a c
ommand find function.  Then start typing Securities Act of 1933 in the search box and it will jump you to that part of the list on the screen.  To access the full text of the act, click on the Statutes at Large citation to the right, 48 Stat. 74.


The second resource you can try is the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library.  From the U.S. Federal Legislative History landing page, click on Browse by Popular Name.  When the list comes up, you can again use the Ctrl + f function on your keyboard and search for Securities Act of 1933.

 When you find Securities Act of 1933 on the list, click on the title to expand and view the contents included for the popular name.  Then click on the link to the full-text legislative history.

In this example, it’s an 11 volume set related to the Securities Act of 1933.  Therefore, it will bring up a listing of the 11 volumes in the set.  It will also display a link that says “Cumulative Contents”.  If you click on this link, it will display a complete breakdown of every document included in the 11 volume set for the public law.



Usually within a full-text compiled legislative history, the key pieces of information for a public law, like the text and any codifications, will be listed first after the table of contents and index; as we see here.


Alternatively, from the U.S. Federal Legislative History landing page, you could click on the Search tab and then Search Sources of Compiled Legislative History Database.  This will allow you to search across the complete database derived from Nancy Johnson’s print source, Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories.


From the drop down select Popular Name of Public Law and insert in quotations “Securities Act of 1933”, then click search.



This will return one result.  Click on the Public Law Number to look at the complete database entry.  You will find a link to the text of the public law in the U.S. Statutes at Large.




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