United States Statutes and the United States Code: Historical Outlines, Notes, Lists, Tables, and Sources

A Federal Statutory Research Guide

Part of LLSDC's Legislative Source Book

Compiled by Richard J. McKinney
Assistant Law Librarian, Federal Reserve Board

The U.S. Statutes at Large is a chronological arrangement of all laws enacted by Congress. The U.S. Code is an updated, subject arrangement of all general and permanent U.S. law so enacted.


Historical Outlines, Explanatory Notes, Lists

Basic Overview on How Federal Laws Are Published, Organized and Cited [PDF]

How to Find U.S. Statutes and U.S. Code Citations [PDF] (Fourth Rev. Ed, 1980; Office of the Federal Register)

Detailed Guide to the United States Code Content and Features [Beta] (Office of the Law Revision Counsel)

United States Code: Historical Outline and Explanatory Notes [PDF]

United States Code: List of Positive Law Titles with Enacting Cites and Location to Revision Notes [PDF]

Unraveling the Mysteries of the U.S. Code (a Q&A) [PDF]

The Authority of Statutes Placed in Section Notes of the United States Code [PDF]

United States Statutes: Historical Outline and Source Notes [PDF]

U.S. Statutes at Large: List of Documents and Information Included [PDF]


Tables from the Law Revision Counsel

United States Code Classification Tables (updates Code by year in public law and code order, including current year)

United States Code: Table I - Revised Titles (former sections to new positive law sections - PDF, Jan. 2010)

United States Code: Table II - Revised Statutes (R.S. sections to U.S.C. sections - PDF, Jan. 2010)

United States Code: Table III - Statutes at Large (statute sections to U.S.C. sections, including amendments - PDF, Jan. 2010)

United States Code: Table IV - Executive Orders (Order No. to location in U.S.C. notes - PDF, Jan. 2010)

United States Code: Table V - Proclamations of the President (Proclamation No. to location in U.S.C. notes - PDF, Jan. 2010)

United States Code: Table VI - Reorganization Plans (Reorg. Plan No. to location in U.S.C. notes - PDF, Jan. 2010)

Acts Cited by Popular Name - Tool (citations to where that popular name title is found in the U.S. Code which is usually at the beginning of a U.S.C. section (or section note) where most of the rest of the text of the Act can be found - PDF, Jan. 2011)

Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules  (U.S.C. cites to C.F.R. cites - United States Code sections cited as authority in various CFR citations - Office of the Federal Register on GPO Access - PDF, Jan. 2009)


Electronic Sources for U.S. Statutes and the U.S. Code

BloombergLaw (subscription service) - Has current U.S. Code as well as 2006 & 2000 editions; U.S. Public Laws/Statutes from 1976; many amended laws from 1933; search capability; and popular name table.

Cornell's Legal Information Institute - U.S. Code and Popular Name Table - Has effective date in January within 1 to 2 years of current date (or less). Can search, browse, cite and link to individual sections. Also has a popular name table that links to many U.S. Code cites.

Fastcase.com - U.S. Code (subscription service) - Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

Findlaw - U.S. Code and Popular Name Table - The effective date is shown on the top right of each page which is in January within 1 to 3 years of current date. Can search, browse, cite and link to individual sections. Also has a popular name table. Beware that the notes area of a USC section may be incomplete.

GPO FDsys - U.S. Code and Public and Private Laws (U.S. Government Printing Office) - 1994 to near current. Can search, browse, and link to individual sections. Also has a searchable and browseable Public and Private Laws database that includes PDF files from 1995 of all U.S. statutes. Also has annual digitized U.S. Statutes at Large in PDF from 1951 to 2002 (large files) and U.S. Statutes at Large material (with indices) available by individual statute from 2003 to current edition.

HeinOnline - U.S. Statutes and Large / Historical Editions of the U.S. Code. A subscription service - has digitized the U.S. Statutes At Large (not word searchable) and all the historical editions the U.S. Code.

Justia.com - U.S. Code, a free service, has a digital U.S. Code, not really current.

Law Revision Counsel, Office of the - U.S. Code (official compilers and publishers of the U.S. Code in the U.S. House of Representatives - The Code is searchable and downloadable in various formats (ASCII, PDF, XHTML, ZIP) and the most current version is effective (usually in January) within 6 months to 2 years depending on the title. The Counsel has a Popular Name Tool, Statute to Code Table, and Other Tables, and tools. There is also a new Beta version of U.S. Code as well as the most current preliminary version of the U.S. Code.

LexisNexis - U.S. Code and U.S. Statutes at Large (subscription or credit card service - Has an updated Code (USCS) and back years from 1992 (files US1992, US1994, etc.). Updates may take a few weeks. Can search or browse. Also has a popular name table (file GENFED;USNAME) from 1789 with cites to amendments and links to Code cites of some of those amendments. Has U.S. Statutes at Large from 1789 (in PDF, not directly searchable) available by citation method and a searchable public law file from 1988.

Library of Congress - U.S. Statutes at Large and Public Laws via THOMAS service - Covers the years 1789-1873; browseable but not directly searchable; part of Library's American Memory Project. Though THOMAS service on Congress has the text of public laws back to 1989 (enrolled bill version) and information about laws back to 1973.

LoisLaw.com - U.S. Code (subscription service) Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

The Law.net - U.S. Code (subscription service) - Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

VersusLaw.com - U.S. Code (subscription service)- Has current U.S. Code - searchable and browseable.

Westlaw - U.S. Code and U.S. Statutes at Large (subscription or credit card service)
- Has an updated Code (USCA) from 1990 (see files USCA90, USCA94, etc. and a new "effective date" sevice from 1996). Updates may take a few weeks. Can search or browse. Also has a popular name index (file USCA-POP) from 1789 with breakdown links to USCA cites and public law numbers of recent laws. Has a new U.S. Statutes at Large premium service from 1789 to 1972 (not directly searchable) and a public law file (USCCAN-PL) from 1973.


Compiled and maintained by Richard J. McKinney, Assistant Law Librarian, Federal Reserve Board, Washington, D.C.

Last revised in March 2012.