HeinOnline: The Most Reliable Source for Government Documents

Government Documents
Shannon Sabo

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HeinOnline has long been known as the most comprehensive source of law and law-related journals, but it’s much more than the best place to find articles. HeinOnline contains more than 140,000 titles and nearly 145,000,000 pages, as well as comprehensive coverage of documents from both the U.S. federal government and state session laws. HeinOnline’s government document content is easy to browse and search and, in many cases, covers material far beyond the range available other commercial publisher or even government websites. Because HeinOnline is composed of image-based, fully searchable PDFs, the authenticity of these documents is never in question as they are all exact replicas of the official print publications.

Government Document Databases in HeinOnline

U.S. Congressional Documents

This database began with comprehensive coverage of the Congressional Record, which is the official record of proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress, and its predecessor versions. Over the years, it morphed into a powerhouse for congressional research. The database also includes:

The U.S. Congressional Documents database also has a subcollection on rules and precedents, publications from the Congressional Budget Office, and more.

Hundreds of hearings, CRS reports, and committee prints will continue to be added to the database monthly, with an ultimate goal of comprehensive coverage. To help users find Congressional Record pages between the Daily and Bound editions, HeinOnline developers created the Daily to Bound Locator tool, which is available both from within the citation navigator and the collection homepage.

For those who can’t get enough of congressional research, HeinOnline offers Congress and the Courts, a database once centered around Bill Manz’s Congress and the Courts: A Legislative History 1787-2010 but which has now grown to include a host of additional materials, including federal rules, Federal Judicial Center publications, periodicals, CFR Title 28, U.S. Code Titles 18 and 28 and more.

Federal Register (1936-current; updated daily)

The Federal Register is the daily newspaper of the federal government. It contains federal agency regulations, proposed and final rules, public notices, executive orders and proclamations, and other presidential documents. The Federal Register database in HeinOnline is updated daily, its coverage is comprehensive and begins from inception (1936), and it also includes the Code of Federal Regulations from inception (1938), Official US Bulletin (1917-1919), United States Government Manual from inception (1935), and the Daily and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents from inception (1965). Use the citation navigator from the collection homepage to quickly retrieve a citation, use the search bar to look for material on a particular subject, or browse Federal Register content by volume and issue. Issues from 1995 to date are indexed to the section level, and HeinOnline also links back to the government’s high-resolution archival version of the Federal Register when available.

Code of Federal Regulations (1938-current)

Each year, the general and permanent rules from the Federal Register are codified by subject into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). HeinOnline’s coverage of the CFR is comprehensive and simple to search; or browse the content by years, titles, or bindings. Two citation locators and a CFR Sections Affected Locator are available on the collection homepage, as well as links to complementary publications like the CFR Indexes and Finding Aids, List of Sections Affected, and Compilations of Sections Affected.

U.S. Statutes at Large (1789-current)

The U.S. Statutes at Large is the official record of all laws enacted during a session of Congress. In addition to public laws, the publication contains concurrent resolutions, reorganization plans, constitutional amendments, Native American treaties and other treaties* published prior to 1948, and presidential proclamations. HeinOnline’s coverage is comprehensive, and the database includes other works related to United States statutes and early federal codes and statute compilations. Use the citation navigator to retrieve specific citations or to find a law by public law number.

*The U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library contains ALL treaties to which the United States is a party, whether the treaty is in force, expired, or not yet officially published.

U.S. Code (1925-current)

The U.S. Code is to the U.S. Statutes at Large as the Code of Federal Regulations is to the Federal Register: it consolidates and codifies the general and permanent laws of the United States which are published in chronological order in the U.S. Statutes at Large. The U.S. Code is revised every six years and supplemented annually. HeinOnline’s coverage runs from inception to current, and the U.S. Code database features a citation navigator, access to early federal codes and statute compilations, other related works, and external links to other versions of the code.

U.S. Federal Legislative History Library (Coverage includes 1800s-date)

What happens when the language in a public law enacted by the government is ambiguous, or if legislative intent needs to be clarified? In many cases, legal experts and scholars, librarians, lawyers, professors, and other hard-core researchers have compiled legislative histories on hundreds of public laws. These compilations typically include the text of the final public law, various bill versions, and supporting documents such as congressional hearings. In addition, the collection contains more than 5,000 House reports and more than 5,000 Senate reports! HeinOnline contains more than 2,400 compiled federal legislative histories. Sources of these publications include the Government Printing Office (GPO), Covington and Burling, Arnold and Porter, Kirkland and Ellis, and Hein’s own compilations put together by legendary legal figures like Bernie Reams and Bill Manz. All major public laws are covered, and as in other HeinOnline databases, searching topically or for a specific document is straightforward.

In addition to the incredible scope of content, Nancy Johnson’s award-winning book, Sources of Compiled Legislative Historieswas converted into a database and is available in the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library. Using this resource, researchers can access bibliographic records for many public laws which contain publication information for compiled legislative histories, journal articles, and books written on that specific public law. Any material available in HeinOnline is hyperlinked for quick access.

U.S. Supreme Court Library (1754-date)

The U.S. Supreme Court is all the rage these days, and HeinOnline contains the full set of the United States Reports, which is the official source for U.S. Supreme Court case law. Since the GPO tends to be a few years behind in publishing the official volumes, this database also includes the United States Reports Preliminary Prints and the United States Reports Slip Opinions to currentFind a case by title using the advanced search tool, or use the citation navigator to retrieve the case by its citation.

If the case you need isn’t from the U.S. Supreme court, enter the citation using the case law tab, which is the fourth option on the main search bar. This will pull the case in from Fastcase, with whom HeinOnline has partnered to bring all HeinOnline core subscribers tons of additional case law at no extra charge.

The Supreme Court is nothing without its justices, so be sure to check out the History of Supreme Court Nominations database, which contains the popular set titled Supreme Court of the U.S. Hearings and Reports on Successful and Unsuccessful Nominations of Supreme Court Justices by the Senate Judiciary Committee. This database provides the ability to browse this set by justice and also features scholarly articles written by or about each justice.

HeinOnline has also partnered with the American Bar Association to bring exclusive online access to Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases, which provides expert analyses of all cases given plenary review by the Supreme Court in advance of oral arguments.

U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals

This database contains more than 7.3 million pages and nearly 10,000 volumes of reports, decisions, and records from various federal agencies. It is a complete collection of the official case law of some of the United States’ most important U.S. Federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and many more. It also includes more than 65 GPO best-selling legal titles. Browse the collection by agency or title or use the search bar to research by topic.

U.S. Presidential Library

For history buffs, this database is a dream come true. It includes the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (1789-1973)complete coverage of the Daily and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (1965-date), Public Papers of the Presidents (1931-date) and a wealth of books on various United States presidents. CFR Title 3 (The President) is integrated into the database for a comprehensive and VERY presidential research experience.

Using the Interface

HeinOnline’s interface is designed for both novice and advanced researchers. Use free-form search queries or apply standard search syntax to find material on your chosen topic. For example, enter “climate change” AND human* in the main search bar from within the U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals database. Note that the phrase is in quotes and the Boolean operator is capitalized; the asterisk (*) will expand the search to include variations of the word human. Results include numerous U.S. Climate Action Reports and other documents from the Environmental Protection Agency. Text matching the search terms are highlighted in yellow, and facets on the left side of the page can be utilized to refine the results.

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Sort results by Volume Date (Oldest First) to follow the progression of the topic throughout history. For this search example, results from the 1950s reflect the fact that climate change has been an issue for more than half a century.

TL,DR?

Lastly, because we know librarians, professors, and other heroic disseminators of information will need to relay this content summary to students, we have created this visual representation of HeinOnline’s government document content.

Ask for Help

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