Sources for Congressional Research


In addition to resources such as the Federal Depository Library Program website,,, and the myriad of political commentary databases available online, there are several subscription databases that the Brooklyn Law School community has access to through the Library.  Below are brief descriptions of three of them.

Hein Online

HeinOnline has a database of U.S. Congressional Documents, containing the Congressional Record and its predecessors, as well as Congressional reports, documents, and prints.  These are the various documents produced by Congress as a bill works its way through Congress to become a law, and are useful in performing a legislative history of a federal law.  Hein has also added a Congressional hearings collection covering from 1889, and while not complete, is continuously being updated. Congressional Research Reports are also available through Hein Online.  These are research reports written by the Congressional research staff of the Library of Congress.



The Library also has access to two databases through ProQuest.  They are ProQuest Congressional  and ProQuest Legislative Insight.  ProQuest Congressional has profiles of the Congresses over the years going back to the first Congress of 1789, as well as member profiles.  This database can also be used to search for bills and follow Congress and its members on social media.  Legislative Insight is a compilation of legislative histories, containing the reports, documents, prints and hearings that helps one find legislative intent in the making of a federal law.

ProQuest also provides a number of Libguides that are useful when doing congressional/governmental research.

The library has also produced two Libguides on Federal Legislative History Research and U.S. Government Information.



Congressional Pictorial Directory Available for 115th Congress

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has made available the Congressional Pictorial Directory: 115th Congress on GPO’s govinfo website. GPO employees designed and produced the Pictorial Directory, which features a color photograph of each member of the House of Representatives and Senate.  It also details each member’s length of service, political party affiliation, and congressional district. The Pictorial Directory also contains pictures of the President, Vice President, and House and Senate officers and officials.  In addition to the digital version, the print edition is available on GPO’s online bookstore.

The Sixties: the Digitized Version of the Congressional Record Recently Released

Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is the official record of the debates and proceedings of the United States Congress.  It is issued daily when Congress is in session, and is published by the United States Government Printing Office (GPO).  The GPO has partnered with the Library of Congress to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record for the sixties, from 1961 to 1970 on GPO’s website:

This release covers debates and proceedings of the 87th through 91st Congresses, and covers historical topics such as:

  • The Administrations of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson
  • The Vietnam War
  • The Civil Rights Era
  • The Space Program and Moon Landing
  • Legislation of the Great Society and the War on Poverty, including
    • Medicare & Medicaid
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964
    • Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Congressional Record is also available on the website from 1994 to 2017

The Congressional Record is available on microfiche, in bound volumes, in paper and online from a variety of sources, including the following:

  • The BLS Library receives daily paper issues as a U.S. Government Depository Library.  These issues are shelved in the Documents Reference Collection in the cellar. Call number:  DREF KF 35 .U578
  • Bound volumes are also shelved in the Documents Reference Collection in the cellar.  This collection covers 1873 (43rd Congress) to 2011 (112th Congress).  Call number: DREF KF 35 .U578
  • The Congressional Record in microfiche is located in the cellar microfiche collection covering 1873 (43rd Congress) to 2012.  Call number:  KF 35 .U577
  • HeinOnline has the daily edition of the Congressional Record:   1980-2017 (Volumes 126-163) and the bound volume edition:  1873 (43rd Congress to 2011 (112th Congress).
  • Finally, both Lexis and Westlaw have the Congressional Record online from 1985 to date.

For assistance with research in the Congressional Record, please feel free to consult a reference librarian.


New Law Creates Commission on Native Children

native_american_childrenLast week President Obama signed the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act  into law.  The Commission created by this act, is tasked with the important work of undertaking a comprehensive study of Federal, State, local, and tribal programs that serve Native children, and making recommendations on how those programs could be improved.

This Commission will be housed in an office in the Department of Justice and consist of three individuals appointed by the President and eight individuals appointed by congressional leaders.

Over the past 8 years, my Administration has been committed to working closely with tribes to strengthen our nation-to-nation relationships and to forge a brighter future for all our children. During my own visits to Indian Country, I have been inspired by the talent and enthusiasm of young people who want nothing more than to make a positive difference in their communities. From the Indian Child Welfare Act to working to return control of Indian education to tribal nations, I am proud of the progress we have made over the past 8 years. I applaud the Congress, and in particular Senator Heitkamp, for the efforts that made this new law possible.

–  Barack Obama to Retire in July

from the Library of Congress –, the online legislative information system, will officially retire July 5, completing the multi-year transition to

THOMAS, named for Thomas Jefferson, was a pioneering site when it was launched by the Imacon Color ScannerLibrary of Congress in 1995.  The system has been updated over the years, but its foundation can no longer support the capabilities that today’s Internet users have come to expect.

The system, initially launched in beta form in September, 2012, applies modern design and infrastructure to the robust legislative data sets, with mobile-friendly access, faceted search and other features.

During the transition, the Library has maintained both sites to ensure a seamless transition and uninterrupted service for users; solicited and applied user feedback to further refine’s features and functionality; and added data sets to the new site. A collaborative effort among the Library of Congress, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Publishing Office (GPO), now provides searchable access to bill status and summary, bill text, the Congressional Record, Congressional Record Index and committee reports, and executive actions such as nominations, treaties and communications, with historic access reaching back as far as 1973. Additionally, provides contextual information such as member profiles, legislative-process videos, a glossary of terms, committee profile pages, video of committee hearings and direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. The site includes accessibility tools such as downloadable audio files and tracking tools such as customizable email alerts.

The Library offers free web-based training for new users of The next session is Thursday, May 19 at 2 p.m. EDT. Training registration, along with frequently asked questions and answers about permalinks and redirects from THOMAS to can be found here:


New From – Email Alerts

– from News from the Library of

The free legislative information website now offers users a new optional email-alerts system that makes tracking legislative action even easier. Users can elect to receive email alerts for tracking:

  • A specific bill in the current Congress: Receive an email when there are updates to a specific bill (new cosponsors, committee action, vote taken, etc.); emails are sent once a day if there has been a change in a particular bill’s status since the previous day.
  • A specific member’s legislative activity: Receive an email when a specific member introduces or cosponsors a bill; emails are sent once a day if a member has introduced or cosponsored a bill since the previous day.
  • Congressional Record: Receive an email as soon as a new issue of the Congressional Record is available on

The alerts system is a new feature available to anyone who creates a free account on the site. Creating an account also enables users to save searches. Create an account and sign up for alerts at is the official source for federal legislative information. A collaboration among the Library of Congress, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Publishing Office, is a free resource that provides searchable access to bill status and summary, bill text, member profiles, the Congressional Record, committee reports, direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, legislative-process videos, committee profile pages and historic access reaching back as far as 1973.