U.S. Congressional Serial Set

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.


HeinOnline’s 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.

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. To this end, HeinOnline is releasing this enormous collection in phases, with the goal of adding approximately four million pages each year until the project is complete. Since its initial release in October 2018, nearly 7.5 million pages and 1,000 volumes have been added to the Serial Set in HeinOnline. In the past month alone, the Serial Set grew by more than more than 350 volumes and 180,000 pages.

As of February 2021, the Serial Set in HeinOnline includes:

  • Complete indexing of the more than 17,000 volumes of the Serial Set
  • Full 40-year (1978-2018) content archive in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format
  • Complete coverage of the American State Papers
  • 95% of the Serial Set is available in HeinOnline or via HathiTrust Digital Library
  • 89% of documents are available in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format

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


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.

Interface and Features

Users will find that within HeinOnline’s version of this resource, the American State Papers and U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1817-2014) are separated into two tabs. Congressional documents and congressional reports from 2015 to present are separated into two additional tabs. These congresses are available in HeinOnline, but have not yet been assigned a Serial Set citation.

custom features

HeinOnline’s Serial Set also includes custom features not available in any other resource.

Features Include:

  • Volume Quick Locator, which enables users to simply enter a Serial Set volume number to retrieve the content
  • Citation Quick Locator, which provides users the ability to enter a House or Senate document/report citation for quick document retrieval
  • Multiple browse options to accommodate different research methods
  • Color-coded H indicators to help users determine volume and document availability
  • HeinOnline’s user-friendly advanced search tool, which makes it easy to use the extensive metadata indexing or choose specific section types for quick and detailed searches

Special Thank You

HeinOnline would like to give a special thanks to the following libraries for their generous contributions which have resulted in the steady growth of HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

  • Wayne State University
  • University of Utah
  • UC Hastings
  • University of Montana
  • Law Library of Louisiana
  • George Washington University
  • University of Delaware

We will continue to need help from the library community to complete this project. Download an Excel file listing the missing volumes of the Serial Set below.

Lend Hein a Hand

We will continue to need help from the library community to complete this project. Download an Excel file listing the missing volumes of the Serial Set below.


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


Training Materials and Resources

Hundreds of articles, guides, and videos pertaining to the use of HeinOnline and the Serial Set.

An overview of Serial Set content, tools and features, search tips, and navigation.

Your resource for tips, tricks, and new updates regarding the Serial Set.