United States Congressional

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Terminology & Descriptions

Legislative History refers to the progress of a bill through the legislative process and to the documents that are created during that process

Hearings are records of testimonies, question/answer exchanges, and pertinent documents held before a House, Senate, or joint committee.

Prints can be about anything a Committee does or undertakes, such as draft legislation, statistics, or analyses.

Reports are produced by House or Senate Committees for the benefit of the House or Senate as a whole.

Documents are published by the full chamber of either the House or Senate.

Serial Set -- United States Congressional Serial Set -- began in 1817 as the official collection of reports and documents of the United States Congress. The collection was published in a "serial" fashion, hence its name.

 American State Papers are reports and documents issued by the first 13 Congresses and are not included in the Serial Set. 

Serial Set Maps are maps included in the Serial Set and can be searched separately.

Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress.  Available in Daily and official bound versions. 

Hearings are records of testimonies, question/answer exchanges, and pertinent documents held before a House, Senate, or joint committee. There are three main types of hearings: legislative, oversight, and investigative. Not all congressional hearings are published. Some hearings are unpublished and remain unpublished according to schedules created by the House, Senate, or individual committees. 

The transcripts of unpublished hearings are transferred to the National Archives and are released under the following schedule:

Unpublished Senate hearings and other committee papers are closed for 20 years
Unpublished House hearings and other records are closed for 30 years
Investigative hearings in both the House and Senate that contain classified or sensitive material are generally closed for 50 years
A senator can insist that a proceeding in which he was a part be closed until his death, even if that exceeds the 20 years rule.

Prints are generic documents produced by committees. They can be about anything a committee does or undertakes, such as draft legislation, statistics, or analyses.

The official committee prints publication category began when committees started issuing printed versions of their own internal working papers. Today, committee prints include a wide variety of publications approved and issued by committees or portions of committees, such as majority or minority staff. Prints issued by only a portion of the committee are normally identified as such on the cover.

Published hearings are the official record of committee hearings proceedings. Hearings, which are usually open to the public, are held to enable committees to gather opinions and information to help Members make decisions regarding proposed legislation or to help them fulfill their oversight and investigation responsibilities.

U.S. Senate Executive Documents & Reports contain U.S. Senate acts on treaties, nominations, and other matters of national concern that the President submits. These publications represent a definitive record of the Senate’s constitutionally mandated powers of advice and consent.

Reports are produced by House or Senate committees for the benefit of the House or Senate as a whole, such as findings of hearings or discussions of legislative intent.

Documents are published by the full chamber of either the House or Senate. They can include such things as vetoes, biannual reports on committee activities, and presidential messages on new legislation.

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as theSerial Set, contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports bound by session of Congress. It began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817). In general, it includes: committee reports related to bills and other matters, presidential communications to Congress, treaty materials, certain executive department publications, and certain non-governmental publications. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, executive-branch materials were also included. The Serial Set used to be the definitive publication documenting the U.S. Government, but over the years it has become more selective in what it includes.

Documents before 1817, the first 14 congresses, were published as the American State Papers.

You can search the Serial Set separately in ProQuest Congressional Universe, 1789-1969. All documents are available full text online.

The Serial Set includes the following House and Senate Publication Series:

House Documents (1817-1969)

House Executive Documents (1847-1895)

House Miscellaneous Documents (1847-1895)

Senate Documents (1817-1969)

Senate Executive Documents (1847-1895)

Senate Miscellaneous Documents (1847-1895)

Congressional Record: Records of the Proceedings and Debates
The official record of the proceedings and debates of the U.S. Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. The Daily Digest in each issue summarizes the day's floor and committee activities. Note: There are two versions: the Daily and the Bound permanent version. 

See Congressional Record page for more information on access, searching and predecessor titles.

CIS U.S. Congressional Journals on Microfiche (1789-1978)

CIS U.S. Congressional Journals provide a continuous, authoritative chronology of House and Senate activities. Included in the collection are all motions, all actions taken, and all votes; names and numbers of bills and resolutions introduced, as well as references to related documents; titles of memorials and petitions received; and texts of communications from the President. The complete and official record of congressional proceedings—from the first through the 95th Congress--are available.

Note: These are not indexed in ProQuest Congressional 

H.rpt          House report
H.doc.        House document
H.exdoc      House executive document
H.jnl            House journal
H.misdoc.    House miscellaneous document
S.rpt.           Senate report
S.doc.         Senate document
S.prt.          Senate print
S.hrg.         Senate hearing
S.exdoc.     Senate executive document
S.jnl           Senate journal
S.misdoc.   Senate miscellaneous document
CC.rp.        Court of Claims report
CRS rpt      Congressional Research Service report
Exec.rpt.     Executive report
Exec.doc.    Executive document
Treaty doc.  Treaty document
Claims.       American State Papers report on claims
Com.nav.    American State Papers report on commerce and navigation
Fin.            American State Papers report on finance
For.rel.       American State Papers report on foreign relations
Ind.aff.       American State Papers report on Indian affairs
Mil.aff.       American State Papers report on military affairs
Misc.         American State Papers miscellaneous report
Nav.aff.      American State Papers report on naval affairs
Post.off.    American State Papers report on Post Office Department
Pub.land.   American State Papers report on public lands