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U.S. Federal Legislative History Library Quick Reference Guide

HeinOnline’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library contains more than 2,700 compiled federal legislative histories from a number of sources, including the GPO, Arnold and Porter, Covington and Burling, Kirkland and Ellis, and more. William S. Hein & Co., Inc. also has contracted with legal experts to compile and publish legislative histories on major public laws in-house.

These compilations are composed of the text of the final public law, House and Senate bill variations, congressional hearings, House and Senate reports, and more. These often provide insight into legislative intent and they also help to clarify ambiguous statutory language.

Video Tutorial

Watch this recorded customer training to see how to effectively use the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library.

How to Use the Database

To access a compiled legislative history, enter the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library. The library can be either searched or browsed by publication title, public law number, or popular name:

screenshot of U.S. Federal Legislative History Library homepage

For example, search for the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Select the Popular Name browse option and choose from the A-Z index located at the top of the page:

screenshot of Popular Name browse option

Find the Act by scrolling or using Ctrl+F (find function):

screenshot of Consumer Credit Protection Act listing

Click the act to access the compiled legislative history. To take the research a step further, locate this Act in Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories to see if there are additional documents, like books and scholarly articles, which pertain to this public law.

How to Use Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories

Use the database version of Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories to locate the available material on a specific public law.  This database can also be either searched or browsed by Congress or by a list of public laws:

screenshot of Sources of Co0mpiled Legislative Histories

For example, to locate Public Law No. 90-321, select the 90th Congress and use the find function to locate the specific public law number:

screenshot highlighting 90th Congress
screenshot highlighting Consumer Credit Protection Act

Click the title of the law to view a list of available material pertaining to that law. For this example, there are books, journal articles, and compiled legislative histories available:

screenshot of available material pertaining to Consumer Credit Protection Act

Items available in HeinOnline will be hyperlinked. For instance, clicking the legislative history from the above example will direct the user to this two-volume Covington & Burling legislative history set:

screenshot of Legislative History of the Consumer Credit Protection Act

Use the search bar to search content contained within the compiled legislative history. Expand either of the volumes or choose Cumulative Contents to view a list of all documents.

screenshot of cumulative contents

For additional help, check out our dedicated LibGuide.

Table of Contents