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U.S. Congressional Serial Set

Now digitized in HeinOnline, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set is a must-have publication for studying American history. More than two centuries of documents spanning more than 17,000 volumes make this publication an indispensable resource for understanding the development of the United States.







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About 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.

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HeinOnline's U.S. Congressional Serial Set

100% of the serial set is now available in HeinOnline

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.

HeinOnline seeks not only to preserve this indispensable resource, but also to make it easily accessible and useful for librarians, professors, students, and other historians alike. Since its initial release in October 2018, more than 9.2 million pages and more than 13,000 volumes have been added to the Serial Set in HeinOnline.

The Serial Set in HeinOnline includes:

  • Complete indexing of the more than 17,000 volumes of the Serial Set
  • Complete coverage of the American State Papers
  • Complete coverage of 100% of the Serial Set in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format
  • Complete coverage of Congressional reports and documents from the 115th-118th Congresses (2018-Present)

What's Included


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 have been 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.*

* Items may be located using the volume or serial numbers. Citations, however, should include the publication, Congress, and session numbers.

Database Tools and 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. Learn more.

Citation Lookup Tool in HeinOnline's U.S. Congressional Serial Set
Tablet showing searchable image-based PDFs in HeinOnline's digitized Serial Set

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.

Special Thanks

HeinOnline would like to give a special thanks 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 Hastings
  • University of Utah
  • Library of Congress
  • Southern Illinois
  • University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  • Villanova University
  • George Washington University
  • Law Library of Louisiana
  • Maine State Legislature
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of Montana
  • University of Buffalo
  • University of Washington
  • 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

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. Each month, join HeinOnline as we explore notable events in U.S. history using the primary sources themselves.

Using the U.S. Congressional Serial Set

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