Federal Government Information


Subject Guide

GPO Access Resources by Topic: Social Programs offers a resource page with many links to recent social programs material issued by the government, such as committee work and regulations. For older material, check resources below.

Document Resources

Government Websites



Document Resources



About This Resource

A good place to start looking is in LexisNexis. If you do not find a full text copy, you can search in the paper versions.

Public Laws are the laws passed every year. There are two numbering systems for Public Laws:

1. Public or private law, Congressional session, number. For example, P. L. 108-45 "Strengthen AmeriCorps Program Act" is the 45th public law passed during the 108th Congress.

2. Volume STAT. page number. This is used mainly in the paper copy. For example, 117 Stat. 844 "Strengthen AmeriCorps Program Act" is located in volume 117 of the Statutes at Large on page 844.

The US Code is the compilation of all the laws that are presently in effect. The numbering system is Title, Chapter, Subchapter, Section (§), Subsection (usually a letter). So, Title 29, Chapter 7, Subchapter III, § 177(a) is in volume 29 (Labor), chapter 7 (Labor-Management Relations), subchapter III (Conciliation of Labor Disputes; National Emergencies), Subsection 177 (Board of Inquiry), a (Composition). Be careful, though. When using the paper copy, the covers give title and section (§). You can find the statute using just those two numbers.

Note: Be careful of the names of laws. The Taft-Hartley Act, named after its sponsors, is officially the Labor-Management Relations Act.


LexisNexis Congressional: Legislative Histories, Bills and Laws You can select to search only in some or all of the documents.

Legislative Histories has:

  • 1998 onward full legisaltive histories (full-text and links to bills) of all laws.
  • 1984-1998 full legislative histories of major public laws.
  • 1969-1983 abbreviated histories of laws.

Public Law has each year's law full text back to 1988.

US Code has all laws that are presently in effect.

Legal Information Institute contains full-text copies of laws. Search under U.S. Code.

American Memory: Statutes at Large (1789-1875) has online copies of the laws.

Statutes at Large has all laws passed each year back to 1789 listed chronologically. Their call number is 1-Size K50 and they are found on the 4th Level at the Rock. Volumes are by Congressional sessions.

United States Code Service has all laws in effect listed by subject. Their call number is KF62 1972 .L38 and they are found at Reference at the Rock.

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About This Resource

If you are doing general searching, start in LexisNexis: Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws.

Bills are numbered by number of Congress, type, number. For example, 109 S. 397 " Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" is from the 109th Congress, Senate bill, numbered 397. There are many types of bills:

H.R. (House) and S. (Senate) are bills.

H.Res. (House Resolution) and S.Res. (Senate Resolution) are resolutions, which deal mainly with the chamber's operations.

H.J.Res. (House Joint Resolution) and S.J.Res. (Senate Joint Resolution) are jont resolutions, which are nearly the same as bills. However, resolutions are used for Constitutional amendments.

H.Con.Res. (House Concurrent Resolution) and S.Con.Res. (Senate Concurrent Resolution) deals with the matters of both chambers, such as budgets or joint committees. These resolutions are not given to the President for approval and are not laws.

If you are looking back in time to find bills and can't find full text copies on line, get the bill number and look for a paper copy.



LexisNexis: Legislative Histories, Bills and Laws

You can search by the following options:

  • Bills (Text Function) allows you to search through the full-text of all of the versions of bills (1989-current)
  • Bill Tracking contains information on action taken on a bill, i.e., introduction, sponspors, etc.(1989-current).
  • Legislative Histories contain all the information about bills that become law (1969-current).

Library of Congress (Thomas): Bills has information about bills back to 1989.

From 1874-approximately 1969, try paper resources.

American Memory: Bills and Resolutions (1799-1873) has copies of bills.

From 1979 (96th Congress), check our microfiche for bills.

1. For bill number 97 H.R. 3359, you see by the first number that it's the 97th Congress. In the Government Documents collection, you need to find the Final Cumulative Finding Aid, House and Senate Bills. The are shelved GP3.28: congressional session .

2. In the Finding Aid for that Congress, look for the H.R. number. For the entry of the number, you find Fiche No. 221. So, we know that the bill is on that fiche card.

3. You need to now find the fiche. At the beginning of the Finding Aid, you find the SuDoc numbers for the fiche series that have these documents. The most common are Y 1.4/1: Congressional session for Senate Bills and Y 1.4/6: Congressional session for House Bills. So, look in the fiche series for the fiche number that has the bill.

Before 1979, it becomes tricky. You can try

  • The Congressional Record (See below)
  • House or Senate Reports (See below)
  • The media, e.g., The New York Times, sometimes reported on bills in the 1800s, or secondary sources, e.g., books on the subject.
  • Try American Memory: Bills and Resolutions (1799-1873) haspdf copies of bills.

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About This Resource

Code of Federal Regulations (CDF) is the final version of regulations. The numbering system is title, CFR section number, and sub-section. For example, 47 CFR 73.1940, is volume 47 (telecommunications), § 73 (The § stands for section) radio broadcast services, .1940 (sub-section for Legally qualified candidates for public office).

Federal Register is a daily publication of agency regulations. It differs from the Code of Federal Regulations in that it prints the proposals and meetings on a daily basis for changing regulations, whereas the CFR publishes only the final, approved version. The numbering system is Volume, FR, page number. For example, 70 FR 73919 is volume 70 FR page 73919.

If you cannot find a full text version on line, use the numbering system to find the regulation in the paper version.


Code of Federal Regulations Look at title 2 (Grants and Agreements, full-text back to 2005), 24 (Housing and Urban Development, full-text back to 1997), 34 (Eduction, full-text back to 1997), 42 (Public Health, full-text back to 1997).

Federal Register has U.S. federal codes for federal agencies back to the 1990s.

LexisNexis: Regulations has a wide range of search methods for regulations back to 1981.

Code of Federal Regulations The most recent edition is in Reference. Also, explore the microfiche and material in the Annex for historical research.

Federal Register The most recent edition is in Reference. Also, explore the microfiche for historical research.

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About This Resource

For the Senate, the numbering is S. , Hrg. , Congress number, and Hearing Number. For example, S. Hrg. 108-614 "Review of the 9/11 Commission's Intelligence Recommendations " is a Senate Hearing of the 108th Congress numbered 614.

For the House, committees can have their own numbering system for hearings. If you're searching, use the SuDoc numbering system.

If you are looking back in time, search in LexisNexis first. Find the SuDoc number for the individual item and follow the Federal Documents in Print procedure. If the hearing is unpublished, you will automatically need to interlibary loan (ILL) the item.

For Testimony, the best place to start is LexisNexis. Select only Hearings. You can search for the witness's name in the In dropdown menu under the search field.


LexisNexis: Congressional Publications Select only Hearings from Select Witin.

  • Full-text of hearings 1989 onward.
  • Index of hearing 1824-1989.

Congressional Hearings: Main Page (GPOAccess) has full-text version of selected hearings starting from 1995.

Josiah has some records for hearing.

The government document call number for committee hearings starts with Y4. Check the Federal Documents in Print.

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About This Resource

Numbering for reports is the chamber, Rp., number of the Congress, -, report number, For example, S. Rpt. 104-10 "Legislative Line Item Veto Act" is a Senate Report from the 104th Congress with the report number 10.

Numbering for documents is H. or S. (House or Senate) Doc. (Document) number of Congress, number of document. For example, H. Doc. 108-35 "Plan Colombia/Andean Counterdrug Initiative Semi-Annual Obligation Report, Communication from the President" is a House Document from the 108th Congress numbered 35.

Both these items are normally part of the Serial Set.

Start to look in LexisNexis. If you're looking for old reports or documents in paper:

  1. In the record, look for DOC-NO and SERIAL-VOL-NO. For example, "Bridge across Hudson River at New York City, by New York and New Jersey Bridge Company, with minority report" from 1889 is DOC-NO: H.rp.3167, 51-1 SERIAL-VOL-NO: 2816. So, we need to find the serial volume 2816, and then find H.rp.3167 in it. The 51-1 stands for the 51st Congress, 1st session.
  2. Serial Set Before 1909, your quickest option is to use the microfiche. The Serial Set is under the number JK404 .C59x in the Hecker Center microfiche cabinets. Then the actual microfiche will be numbered by the SERIAL-VOL number. There might be a few cards to cover the whole volume, so check each volume card for the report or document you're looking for. If you want the paper copy, you will need to page it from the HAY Annex. In Josiah, do a title search for Serial Set. In the results, select the Congress number to get the call number of the volume to be paged.
  3. Serial Set From 1909 onwards the Rockefeller has paper copies of the Serial Set on the Level 2. The SERIAL -VOL is the volume number. So, we're looking for volume 2816 and then, if there are more than one document in the volume, look for the DOC - NO - H.rp.3167.
  4. Serial Set From 1970 to 1988 the record will not say what volume number it's in. So, you'll need to check in the The Numerical Lists and Schedule of Volumes of the United States Congressional Serial Set (Z1223 A15x 1983 3 DOCS) or one of the supplements, which are located in the government documents reference shelf, to get the volume number. Look under the Congress number, type of document and document number to get the serial volume number.
  5. Serial Set From the late 1980s onward, most of the time you can find full text versions of the items online (graphs and maps not included). However, if you need to consult the paper item, you will need to search the Serial Set collection by Congress, document type and number as given on the spine of the book. Volume numbers are not given.

LexisNexis: Congressional Publications Select only Reports, Documents and Serial Set from Select Within. Reports are full text from 1990 onward and Documents from 1995 onward.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set (GPO Access) has full-text back to 1995.

American Memory: Serial Set (1833-1917) has some items from the Serial Set from this time period.

In Josiah , do a Title search for the Serial Set. This set goes back to 1817, and is located both in the Hay and Rockefeller. This Set contains the reports and documents.

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About This Resource

The numbering is this: 149 (2003) H-House 27. This stands for Congress and year 149 (2003), then whether it was in the H-House, S-Senate, D-Daily Digest, or E-Ext. of Remarks, which is remarks that were submitted in paper, not verbalized on the floor, and finally page number (27)

Online resources allow text searching.

Please use the Citation Guide for the numbering system for the paper copies and older editions.


LexisNexis: Congressional Record & Rules Full-tex back to 1985.

U.S. Congressional Record (GPO Access) has full-text from 1994.

From 1875-1985, please consult the paper copies.

Congressional Record Debates and Proceedings, 1873-1875 has the records of floor activity and votes.

Congressional Globe Debates and Proceedings, 1833-1873 has the records of floor activity and votes.

Congressional Record Permanent Edition 1873-1998

Congressional Globe 1833-1873

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Brown University is a depository library for government documents. Our collection is extensive and stretches back to the 1800s. In order to search for documents in print, please go to the help guide at Federal Documents in Print.

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Government Websites

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Labor

Social Security Administration

Health Care Financing Administration

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Department of Justice


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Bureau of Justice: Crime Statistics has data on law enforcement and different types of crime.

Government Databases in Social Sciences

Office of Immigration: Statistics provides recent data on immigration and enforcement. There are also immigration maps.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention: Statistical Briefing Book has data on juvenile offending, victimization of juveniles, and involvement of youth in the juvenile justice system.


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