U.S. Federal Legislative Histories and Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories in HeinOnline

FAQ, U.S. Federal Legislative History
Shannon Furtak

Are you conducting research on a particular public law or federal statute? HeinOnline’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and several a-la-carte collections contain a combined total of over 1,000 compiled legislative histories. Thanks to our friends at Arnold & Porterwe have added several hundred legislative histories since August of 2013 and will continue to add hundreds more within the next few months.

Compiled legislative histories are comprised of documents that are produced by Congress as a bill is introduced, studied and debated. These legislative documents are often used by attorneys, researchers and courts to help determine the intent behind a law or to clarify ambiguous statutory language. All domestic HeinOnline Core packages include the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library; HeinOnline also offers over 250 additional subject-specific legislative histories unique to several collections, including:

In order to easily determine if a legislative history of a particular public law has been compiled, check out Nancy Johnson’s Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database inside the U.S. Federal Legislative History collection. This incredibly useful resource can be found in the Browse Options section of the collection homepage:

Using this database, you can browse by Congress or public law title. For example, if you need to know what is available for P.L. # 103-322 (the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994), enter the U.S. Federal Legislative History collection, and click on Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database. From there, select the 103rd Congress, and scroll to the end of the alphabetical list. You will see that there is an entry in the database for this public law:

Click the title of the Act, and you will receive a list of available relevant material for this public law. Anything that is available in HeinOnline will be linked, and toward the bottom of the list you will see that HeinOnline does have a legislative history available:

Click on the title, and you will arrive at the title in HeinOnline. Clicking Cumulative Contents in any legislative history will display the complete contents of all volumes. This will enable the user to easily locate a specific document, such as a house report, senate report or Congressional hearing:


In addition to using the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories database, you can browse the U.S. Federal Legislative Histories Collection by Publication Title, Public Law Number, or Popular Name from the collection homepage:


Visit the U.S. Federal Legislative History area of our help page for training guides, videos and more!

If you have any questions about searching in this database, legislative histories in general, or the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories database, please contact us at holsupport@wshein.com; (800) 277-6995, or via Live Chat.

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