Find Congressional Debate
HomeLibrary › Find Congressional Debate FaceBookTwitterYouTube
The Congressional Record and Earlier Congressional Proceedings

Page Outline
Daily Edition Sources
Permanent Edition Sources
Tips on Converting a Daily Edition Cite to a Permanent Cite


The Congressional Record is the government's official record of U.S. Congressional debates and proceedings. It began publication in 1873. Three earlier publications documenting Congressional debates are available through the Library of Congress American Memory Project and HeinOnline
The Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. provides a chart correlating the Congressional sessions from 1789 to 2006 with the source of recorded debate.

The Congressional Record is published first as a daily edition. Since 1967, the page numbers in this edition begin with a letter: S for Senate, H for House, E for Extension of Remarks, or D for Daily Digest. Indexes are published periodically throughout each session of Congress.

After each session of Congress, a permanent, bound edition is published as a single volume with multiple parts, including an index. (It takes several years to publish this edition.) This bound edition has the same volume number as the daily edition, but the page numbers are different. Unfortunately, the Congressional Record does not include a table that links the numbering system of the daily version and the permanent version. (See Tips on Converting a Daily Edition Cite to a Permanent Cite).

Congressional Record Sources: Daily Edition

Daily editions are shelved in the Government Documents collection at GOVDOC X A. The Law Library retains the daily edition until the permanent edition is received in microfiche.

The daily version is also available online in pdf format from HeinOnline (back to 1994, vol. 140) and GPO Fdsys (back to 1994, vol. 140). Daily editions can also be found (starting with the 99 Congress, unless otherwise specified) on Westlaw (CR), LexisNexis, LexisNexis Congressional, and THOMAS (from 101 Congress).

Congressional Record Sources: Permanent Edition

Vols. 1-150, pt. 12 (1873-2004): available in HeinOnline
Vol. 91 (1945) - vol. 122 (1976): in hard-copy in lower level at GovDoc X. 
Vol. 123 (1977) - latest published: in microfiche in lower level
Cowles also has Congressional Record volumes; please consult a Cowles Reference Librarian.

Some volumes are also available online from LLMC Digital. As of August 21, 2009, Vol. 136, pt. 1 through Vol. 150, pt 14 were available, with some gaps. See the source list of available volumes.

GPO Fdsys has begun putting the bound version online as well. However, currently all that is available is 1999 (vol. 145) through the start of 2002 (vol. 147).

Tips on Converting a Daily Edition Cite to a Permanent Cite 

Bluebook rule 13.5 says to cite to the permanent edition and use the daily edition only when the permanent version has not yet been published. (Note: because of the difficulty correlating permanent edition pages to daily edition pages, it may be helpful to the reader to include a parallel citation.)

If the author has cited to the daily edition, you will need to do the following:

For cites from January 25th, 1994 - November 11th, 2003, use the HeinOnline Congressional Record Daily to Bound Locator
This tool allows you to input a daily cite and get the corresponding bound cite. The search can also be done by date. You can then click on the result to see a PDF of that page.

For more recent cites, first determine if there is a bound version. (For cites more than five years old, skip ahead to the next section, "Use Index.")  
It can take quite awhile for the bound version to be published. The Library receives the bound versions on microfiche pretty quickly after they are published. Checking the drawer for our latest holdings would give a good idea of whether the permanent edition has been published yet.

An additional check would be consulting the University of Iowa (UI) library catalog. As the regional depository library for Iowa, the UI receives the bound Congressional Records in print as well as on microfiche. To see the specific volumes they have:
  1. Select the University of Iowa Libraries catalog.
  2. With the search box showing “Title beginning with” type congressional record permanent
  3. Click on first link to Congressional Record (Permanent edition)
  4. Click on the call number Government Publications J11 .R5 (This should be in record #4)
  5. It will take awhile, but eventually a list of holdings will come up. Under Location Government Publications J11 .R5, the last listing will show the last item they have received. You can double check this by scrolling down to the next list, under the line. The most recent item received will be listed at the top with some additional detail.
If there is no permanent edition, cite to the daily edition. If the permanent edition exists, continue, using the instructions below.

Use Index 

Once you have verified that there is a bound Congressional Record to find, there is no precise way to find the corresponding page number beyond the HeinOnline tool described above. Your best bet is probably using a combination of the index and date to find the right page.

The Law Library receives hard copy index volumes, available in the Government Documents collection at GovDoc X A. The volume number for the daily edition and the permanent edition are the same. The index provides access by topic or bill/resolution number.

Use the date to narrow the possible pages by checking page numbers and dates on the spines of the print volumes or the top of the microfiche. If you do not have a date, you may need to go back to the daily edition to obtain these; three good sources are THOMAS (1989 to date), LexisNexis (1985 to date; Legal > Federal Legal - U.S. > Individual Congressional Record Materials)  and Westlaw (1985 to date; Database identifier: CR).

Once you have the date and some potential page numbers, search the permanent edition. (Permanent edition sources noted above.)

Good luck, and remember: ask if you need assistance.

    Last Modified: 10/1/2009 4:45:00 PM by Karen Wallace