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Legislative History Research: A Guide

Basic research tools for tracking the progress of bills, hearings, and other legislative steps in the United States federal government.

What is a legislative history?

A legislative history is a collection of documents that are produced by Congress as a bill goes through the legislative process of becoming a public law. Legislative histories can help you determine the intent, meaning and purpose of a particular law. The types of documents found in a legislative history will include the following:

  • bills (original and later versions)
  • committee hearings
  • commitee prints
  • committee  and conference reports
  • House and Senate reports
  • congressional debates
  • presidential statements

This guide focuses primarily on legislative documents and resources available electronically through the Howard-Tilton Library's subscription databases, or freely available through the U.S. government. For print resources or more indepth legislative assistance,  please contact the Tulane Law Library at 504.865.5952.

Where can I find legislative materials?

Most legislative history documents are available electonically either free through the government, or in commercial subscription databases. The following resources provide legislative documents found in a legislative history, as well as full legislative histories for some laws.

Where can I find current legislative news and information?

Louisiana Legislative History

Tracking the histories of state legislation can be more challenging than at the federal level.  For help with researching Louisiana legislative histories, consult this guide from the Law Library of Louisiana.

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