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Collection United States Congressional Serial Set (Bound House and Senate Documents and Reports)

About this Collection

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set, commonly known as the Serial Set, is a compilation of journals, reports, and documents from House and Senate proceedings as well as documents from executive departments and independent agencies. Documents cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set. In addition to providing context for the federal legislative process, the Serial Set is a useful resource for understanding issues that have been investigated by Congress throughout history, including the geographical expansion of the United States, the nature of international affairs, national museum acquisitions, and much more. The Law Library of Congress and the Government Publishing Office are collaborating to digitize Serial Set documents published between the 15th (1817) and 103rd (1994) Congresses, thus making accessible two centuries' worth of American legislative history.

The serial number is a unique number applied to each book in the series of congressional publications running consecutively from the 15th Congress. The serial number may be useful for locating items, but not for citation. The documents and reports series have three numbers:

  • an individual report or document-publication number,
  • a volume number of each series for each session of Congress, and
  • the serial number.

Documents and reports can be located using the volume or serial number but should be cited using the publication number, and Congress and session number, as in the following examples:

  • S. Doc. No. 512, 23rd Cong., 1st Sess. (1833).
  • H.R. Doc. No. 736, 56th Cong., 1st Sess. (1899).