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It’s a Wrap: The Complete Serial Set is Now Available in HeinOnline!

4 MIN READ

It all began in October 2018, when we released the first batch of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, a collection of millions of pages and thousands of volumes that reflect the official historical record of the U.S. government. Today, the entire set is now available in digital form as its own collection within HeinOnline as well as the first digital version that can be browsed by volume.

This database contains more than 20,000 volumes and 14 million pages. Let’s take a look at the journey it took to get the full collection into HeinOnline, and how this database has been designed to make discovering congressional reports, hearings, and more easy for researchers of any skill level.

First, a Special Thanks

We couldn’t have completed this project without the help and support of the amazing library community. In particular, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to the following libraries for their generous contributions, which have resulted in the steady growth and completion of HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Serial Set:

  • Wayne State University
  • University of Delaware
  • UC Law San Francisco (formerly UC Hastings)
  • University of Utah
  • Library of Congress
  • Southern Illinois University
  • University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  • Villanova University

Additional Contributors

We would like the following libraries for their contributions as well:

  • George Washington University
  • Law Library of Louisiana
  • Maine State Legislature
  • Buffalo Erie County Public Library
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of Montana
  • University at Buffalo
  • University of Washington
  • Indiana University
  • Indiana University
  • Virginia Tech
  • Lafayette College
  • Notre Dame Law Library
  • Georgia Chadwick – New Orleans Public Library
  • University of Kentucky
  • Maryland Thurgood Marshall State Law Library

What is the U.S. Congressional Serial Set?

In 1789, the newly formed United States of America ratified its national Constitution. Among its many functions, the document outlined the structure of the young nation’s government, separating the legislature of Congress from its executive and judicial counterparts. The U.S. Congress itself was divided into two houses: the Senate, consisting of two senators from each state, and the House of Representatives, consisting of a number of state representatives determined by population.

In 1817, the 15th Congress, 1st Session began its publication of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, an official bound compilation of documents from both of its houses. In the 1830s, documents between 1789 and 1838 were compiled and printed as the American State Papers.

screenshot of the first document in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set

The American State Papers and the U.S. Congressional Serial Set are the official historical record of the U.S. government as it weathered every event in American history. The documents within record the words and actions of key players in the political life of the United States, and thus reflect the mindset of each era.

What is included in the Serial Set?

screenshot of subcollections in Congressional Serial Set

The American State Papers

Published retroactively, the American State Papers contain both legislative and executive records from 1789 to 1838. Critically, therefore, this collection covers the gap between 1789 and 1817, with approximately two-thirds of the publications covering the first 14 Congresses and the remaining third chronologically overlapping with the Serial Set from 1817-1838.

The 38 physical volumes of the American State Papers are arranged into ten topics:

I. Foreign Relations

II. Indian Affairs

III. Finances

IV. Commerce and Navigation

V. Military Affairs

VI. Naval Affairs

VII. Post Office Department

VIII. Public Lands

IX. Claims

X. Miscellaneous

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set

Beginning with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817), the records in this series include House and Senate documents, House and Senate reports, and more. Reports are typically from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. Documents include all other papers ordered to be printed by the House or Senate, covering a wide variety of topics, including reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of nongovernmental organizations. This series also includes executive material from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Starting with initial publication, all material within the Serial Set has been assigned a unique serial number. Documents and reports have two additional numbers: (1) an individual report or document number, and (2) a volume number of each series for each session of Congress.

image of document summary in Congressional Serial Set with volume and document number, citations, etc.

Additionally, congressional documents and congressional reports from 2018 to 2023 are separated into two additional tabs. These congresses are available in HeinOnline, but have not yet been assigned a Serial Set citation.

Database Tools & Features

Quick Lookup Tools

Enter document information into the Citation Lookup Tool drop-downs to be directed to a specific document. Have more specific information? Enter a volume number or citation into the free-field search boxes.

Searchable PDF Images

All pages within the Serial Set are available as fully searchable PDF images, preserving the look and feel of every historical document.

Metadata Indexing

We’ve indexed the entire Serial Set extensively, down to the title, type of document, volume number, document number, Congress, year, and more.

Browse Options

Varying browse options in the Serial Set are available to accommodate different research methods. Browse by Congress or by volume, depending on your preference.

Advanced Search

Use the Advanced Search feature to search particular metadata fields for the most precise results. Sort search results by relevance, volume date, or by document title.

Secrets of the Serial Set

To demonstrate the tremendous academic value of this database, HeinOnline has created Secrets of the Serial Set, a fascinating blog series dedicated to revealing the historic material hidden throughout this immense publication. Join us as we explore notable events in U.S. history using the primary sources themselves!


Dive Into a Big Bowl of Serial (Set)

This database is provided at no additional cost to all Core+ subscribers. We welcome you to explore this uniquely designed database to unearth all of the hidden stories within U.S. history—you never know what you might discover.

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