NEW Print Edition of Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories is now available!

Content News, U.S. Federal Legislative History
Lauren Mattiuzzo

It has been four years since a new edition was published for this essential tool used for legislative history research! Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories: A Bibliography of Government Documents, Periodical Articles, and Books, 1st Congress–114th Congress, Fourth Edition was compiled by new editors and includes more than 3,300 laws and nearly 7,800 bibliographic records! This book is easy to use and is perfect for librarians, attorneys, government employees, students, and researchers.

About The New Edition

A legislative history is the collection of documents produced in Congress during the enactment of a law. These documents are the “working papers” behind the often terse statutory language. Judges, lawyers, law students, scholars, and interest groups have a need in their work to determine the legislative intent of a statute to resolve ambiguities created by the general language of the act. This book was originally created and edited by the late law librarian Nancy P. Johnson who has been succeeded by law librarians Ron Wheeler and Jenna Fegreus. This new fourth edition is updated with more than 1,100 new laws and nearly 1,800 new bibliographic entries, including two types of compiled legislative histories. The first part of this book includes works issued by commercial sources and legislative histories by topic. The second part, the main portion of this work, includes works compiled for major laws. The third and final part contains an Author-Title Index and a Public Law Index. Beginning with the 113th Congress, this new edition also includes a summary of each source at the conclusion of every entry to provide further insight into sources and the ways in which they may be useful for further research.

About the New Editors

Ronald E. Wheeler received his BA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, MLIS from Wayne State University, and JD from the University of Michigan Law School. A recognized leader in the area of legal research instruction, he has served in various law library management roles at law schools across the country, including Suffolk University Law School, the University of San Francisco School of Law, Georgia State University College of Law, and the University of New Mexico School of Law. During 2016-17, Director Wheeler served as president of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), becoming its first African-American male president. He is a member of the Law Librarians of New England (LLNE), serves on the executive board of the New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO), and is a member of the Editorial Board of the Legal Information Review.

Jenna E. Fegreus is a Senior Legal Information Librarian at Boston University School of Law, where she also teaches legal research classes. Prior to joining the Boston University staff, Jenna had experience working as a library assistant and special projects cataloger at the Social Law Library, as a judicial intern at both the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Land Court, and as a legal intern in former Massachusetts Governor Patrick’s Office of Policy and Cabinet Affairs, among others. She holds a BA from Providence College, a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College, and a JD from Northeastern University School of Law. Jenna is currently serving as the Vice President/President Elect of the Association of Boston Law Librarians (ABLL).

Legislative Histories in HeinOnline

The U.S. Federal Legislative History Library has a database version of Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories which is updated regularly. The print editions of this title are added in PDF format after a one-year delay. The U.S. Federal Legislative History Library includes more than 2,400 titles published by the Government Printing Office and private publishers. Users can research legislative intent behind major public laws and follow the progression of a bill from its introduction to its passage.

Let’s locate legislative histories for the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, Public Law 104-193. Begin by entering the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and search by Popular Name. 

From the Popular Name section, navigate to P and scroll down until you locate Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996. Click on the name and find four legislative histories available for this act.

Documents found in a legislative history typically include bill versions, House and Senate reports, congressional hearings, the full text of the public law, and other related documents. Open the first legislative history listed, Legislative History of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996: P.L. 104-193: 110 Stat. 2105: August 22, 1996 and click on Cumulative ContentsThis opens all the tables of contents in the title so users can see what documents are found in each volume.

Opening the cumulative contents allows users to browse or search for House and Senate reports. For example, let’s search for House Report No. 104-81. Simply use the CTRL+F function to search for 104-81. Locate the House Report by finding the highlighted section with those numbers.

Let’s look up the same act using the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories database. Navigate to this subcollection in the U.S. Federal Legislative History database.

Browse by Congress and locate the 104th Congress from the list.

From here, either find the name of the act, listed alphabetically or click the sort by option on the Public Law/Bill Number to order the list numerically.

The act will be listed by its public law number/bill number, with a link to the U.S. Statutes at Large citation and to the bibliography from the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories.

The bibliographic entry displays a list of available material pertaining to the public law, such as compiled legislative histories, books, and law review articles. Material available within HeinOnline is hyperlinked.

NOTE: Subject-specific legislative histories may only be available in their corresponding HeinOnline collections. Legislative histories are also available in Taxation & Economic Reform in America Parts I & II, History of Bankruptcy: Taxation & Economic Reform in America Part II, American Indian Law Collection, Intellectual Property Law Collection, Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S., and U.S. International Trade Library.

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