Article I, Section 5, Clause 3 of the Constitution requires that both chambers of Congress keep journals of their proceedings and that the journals be periodically published. Unlike the debates of the early congresses, which were not compiled and published until some years later, the journals have always been published after the end of each congress. Although they do not provide a verbatim account of what is said on the floor of Congress, they do provide evidence of the introduction, consideration, and votes for individual legislation, in addition to more specific business of a chamber, such as seating of new members, adoption of rules, and establishment of committees.
Recently, I was looking through a very old Journal of the House of Representatives that dates from the First Session of the Fourth Congress, covering the years 1795-1796. In it, I found the record of the creation of several House committees, some of which remain in existence to this day. Since 1789, the House of Representatives has created permanent, and also ad hoc select, committees to consider business. Committees allow the House and the Senate to conduct business more efficiently by delegating legislation and other business for review and possible modification before a vote of the whole chamber. Committees also allow both chambers to perform oversight of governmental operations, and to consider nominees for federal appointments that require Senate confirmation. President Woodrow Wilson wrote that “Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work.” (Wilson, Congressional Government, p. 69 (1885).)
In my research, I found the record dated December 14, 1795, of the creation of four committees in the House under its standing rules: the Committee of Elections; the Committee of Claims; the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures; and the Select Committee of Revisal and Unfinished Business. The first three committees were to have seven members each, and the last committee was to consist of three members. Two of these committees, the Committee on Claims and the Select Committee of Revisal and Unfinished Business, are no longer in existence, while the business of the Committee of Elections was absorbed by the Subcommittee of Elections of the Committee on House Administration. However, the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures, under a different name, continues to meet and conduct business to this day.
You can track committee business through Congress.gov several different ways, including the committee schedule link from the homepage, the Daily Digest section of the daily issues of the Congressional Record, or by selecting a committee from the committees page.