The Law Library of Congress, in collaboration with the U.S. Government Publishing Office, has started a large multi-year effort to digitize and make accessible volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set dating back to the first volume published in 1817.
The U.S. Congressional Serial Set is an official, bound collection of reports and documents of the House and Senate of the U.S. Congress. First published in 1817 during the 15th Congress, the Serial Set is a compilation of all numbered House and Senate reports and documents, including executive reports and treaty documents, issued for each session of Congress. The term “Serial Set” derives from the fact that the volumes have been numbered consecutively beginning with the volumes of the 15th Congress.
There are approximately 15,735 volumes and approximately 12 million pages in the collection.
Some interesting information the public can expect to find in the Serial Set includes:
- Maps and reports of explorations of the West;
- A resolution to pass the 14th Amendment;
- The transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States;
- Reports of explorations and surveys for the Pacific Railroad;
- Documentary history of the United States Capitol building and grounds;
- Compilation of the messages and papers of the presidents from 1789 to 1897, including Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln;
- Annual Reports of the Boy Scouts of America, dating back to 1924;
- and Smithsonian Institution reports.
“The U.S. Congressional Serial Set documents the history of the United States of America. We are very pleased to partner with GPO in order to make these key historical government publications searchable and freely available to the public,” said Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services and Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sánchez. “The Library’s collection is so vast and impressive, but it is not enough to collect and preserve. To be successful, collections must be used, and this collaboration signifies our resolve to do that.”
The Law Library of Congress will inventory and digitize the Serial Set. The Government Publishing Office will catalog each Serial Set document and authenticate the digital files.
“GPO is honored to partner with the Law Library of Congress on this massive effort toward digitizing the entire Serial Set,” said GPO Acting Deputy Director John Crawford. “Through this digitization, members of the public will be able to digitally access comprehensive and detailed information on a wide range of subjects useful for genealogical and biographical research. Of course print versions of these historic publications are available in Federal Depository Libraries across the country.”
The Library of Congress will display the Serial Set in phases for free public access on the Library of Congress website, loc.gov. GPO will upload volumes of the Serial Set in phases for free public access on govinfo.gov, the agency’s site for authentic, published government information.
The entire effort is expected to take at least a decade to complete.