Skip to Main Content
Tarlton Law Library logo Texas Law Home Tarlton Law Library Home
Today's Operating Hours:

Federal Legislative History Research

How to perform federal legislative history research.

What Are Compilations?

A compiled legislative history is a collection of documents related to the passage of a law, saving you the time and effort of gathering these documents yourself. Don't reinvent the wheel. If you are looking for a law's legislative history, see if one has already been compiled. You might still wish to locate a list of citations for comparison's sake.

Please note, access to certain databases linked in this guide may be restricted to UT Law or the UT community; please see the library's Databases page that lays out access privileges.

Compiled Legislative Histories

Example from HeinOnline's U.S. Federal Legislative History Library

Image from HeinOnline.

A Word About . . .USCCAN

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (USCCAN) is a unique resource published by West, available on Westlaw. It offers two sets of volumes per Congress: one set is a reprint of the Statutes at Large and the other set is labeled "Legislative History," containing lists of citations, abridged reports, and presidential signing statements.

Thus USCCAN has characteristics of both a compilation and a list of citations. However, because it reprints only highlights from a law's legislative history, it is not a comprehensive source as either a compilation or a list. Still, it can be quite convenient to use--you will find references to the relevant portions of USCCAN listed by section in the USCA. Because it focuses on the highlights, it can be a good first source to check.

A Word About . . .Westlaw

Westlaw's "Graphical Statutes" and "Legislative History" Features

In addition to compiled legislative histories, Westlaw offers two features that are integrated into the search results from the USCA or Public Laws databases. In the History tab for a specific statute or code section, you may find the Graphical Statute and Legislative History features. 

The Graphical Statutes feature offers a visual timeline of the changes to a section of the Code. Keep in mind, however, that it is still worthwhile to seek out a full compiled history or a list of citations for comparison.

The Legislative History materials can include documents such as bill drafts, reports, hearing testimony, the Congressional Record, and signing statements. Note however that the links provided for testimony are unofficial transcripts of hearings (not the final, official versions that are published later), and that this collection of materials may not be comprehensive. Again, it is wise to consult a compiled legislative history or list of citations whenever possible.