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Locating a Congressional Committee Print: A Beginner’s Guide

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This post is coauthored by Barbara Bavis and Robert Brammer, senior legal reference specialists.

We have received a number of questions about congressional committee prints in the context of compiling a federal legislative history.  First, it helps to understand what congressional committee prints are and how they can be helpful for legislative researchers.  Congressional committee prints are internal publications that are prepared or commissioned by congressional committees to inform committee members’ legislative or oversight activities. Committee prints are not always submitted for publication, but when they are, this information can prove to be a helpful source of background information. The information contained in the prints could include drafts of reports and bills, directories, bibliographies, statistics, staff research reports, transcripts of markup sessions, studies, hearing and hearing excerpts, digests, and analysis. For more information about the publication and organization of congressional committee prints, visit the Government Publishing Office’s “About Congressional Committee Prints” page.

Mrs Roosevelt
Mrs. Roosevelt, (the) first president’s wife to testify before a congressional committee. Feb. 9, 1940. Photograph by Harris and Ewing. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division,

Online Sources

Federal Digital System (FDSys) – The Government Publishing Office provides congressional committee prints through the FDSys site dating back to the 102nd Congress.

Internet Archive While its coverage varies, the Internet Archive is a powerful free resource for congressional committee prints. Simply use the advanced search linked at the top of the screen to search the title field for committee print. You might also search for the title of a bill or committee name, and restrict your results by date.

HathiTrust The HathiTrust digital library also has selected congressional committee prints.  To search for these prints, simply use the advanced search and search the title field for committee print. You might also search for the title of a bill or committee name, and restrict your results by date.

Commercial Online Sources

ProQuest Congressional – ProQuest Congressional’s basic subscription plan contains committee prints dating back to 1970.  However, ProQuest Congressional’s “Congressional Research Digital Collection” module allows for an increased collection of congressional committee prints, reaching back to 1830. The subscription available at the Library of Congress contains the Congressional Research Digital Collection, although you will have to visit us in person to use it. Otherwise, check your local libraries to determine whether this is an option for you.

ProQuest Legislative Insight – While ProQuest Congressional may be better suited for searching for individual committee prints, you can also use ProQuest Legislative Insight to search for all the committee prints attached to a bill’s legislative history.  If you have the citation to a public law number, enacted bill number, or the U.S. Statutes at Large number, you can type it in to pull up legislative history documents associated with the act, including committee prints.

Print and Microfiche

Federal Depository Libraries retain committee prints. To find a print copy of a specific committee print, begin your search with the online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications. You can search particular fields, such as the title, SuDoc number, and publication date. After you select a result, you can click to locate it in a Federal Depository Library near you.

The Congressional Information Service (CIS) provides the CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Prints Index for prints published between the mid-1800s and 1969. For prints published after 1970, see the CIS Annual and the monthly publication, CIS Index to Publications of the U.S. Congress.

If you have any questions, please submit a question through our Ask A Librarian service.

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