An Overview of the Congressional Record and
Its Predecessor Publications: A Research Guide

Part of LLSDC's Legislative Source Book

by Richard J. McKinney, retired Federal law librarian 
Last revised in May 2020

Originally published by the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C.
"Law Library Lights;" Winter 2002, Vol. 46, No. 2, p. 16-22

Journals | Annals | Register | Globe | Record | Contents | Digest | Index | Appendix
Electronic CR | Citing | Senate | House | Notes

House and Senate Journals

Article I, section five of the Constitution of the United States provides that "each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings and from time to time publish the same." Pursuant to this clause, the Journal of the United States House of Representatives and the Journal of the United Sates Senate have provided legislative action proceedings for their respective bodies since 1789. They include no verbatim or summary remarks of debates - just the legislative minutes, including congressional votes, history of bills, procedural matters, and Presidential messages. Each Journal volume covers one congressional session. The Journal of Executive Proceedings of the U.S. Senate, also published since 1789, covers Senate action on nominations and treaties submitted by the Executive Branch. While most of the material in the Journals can also be found in the publications discussed below, the Journal indices and bill tables can be helpful in locating the debate on pieces of legislation in those other publications.

The Annals of Congress

There was no precedent in colonial or English legislative practice for more then just the keeping of official journals, but from early on unofficial commercial reporters were allowed access to the House and Senate chambers.1 Thus, although for the first 41 congresses (85 years) there were no official government publications that recorded congressional debate, newspaper and other commercial publishers2 did record Congressional proceedings to the extent they saw viable according to the limits on column space available, the political leanings of the editors, the limits on existing shorthand methods, and the ability to hear from the galleries or assigned floor areas.3

In 1834 commercial publishers Joseph Gales and William Seaton began collecting and selectively publishing these early summaries of debates and legislative actions in a publication called the Annals of Congress. 4 Organized by session in 42 volumes, and taking 22 years to compile and publish, the Annals are recognized as the best source for coverage of Congress during the first 18 congresses, 1789 through 1824. Funds appropriated by Congress in 1849 assisted in its production with each volume containing a separate index for House and Senate proceedings. In addition, the Annals includes an appendix for each Congress containing public laws and some executive reports. Records for each chamber in the Annals are organized by congressional session and are numbered consecutively by column, not by page, with two columns per page.

The Register of Debates

The Register of Debates in Congress, also published by Gales and Seaton, was the first contemporaneous attempt to publish, what they claimed was, a substantially accurate report of all the leading debates and incidents of Congress.5 The Register covers the years 1824 to 1837 (the second session of the 18th Congress to the first session of the 25th Congress) and was published at the end of each congressional session. Like the Annals, which was actually compiled some ten years after the Register began, it is not a verbatim account and was often written in the third person. Although selected reporters were allowed on the House and Senate floor, stenography was still primitive at the time and longhand was often employed. Some speeches that were deemed as lacking general interest were not reported and members were invited to revise their remarks before the Register was published at the end of the session.6 An appendix to each session contained presidential messages, public laws, and selected executive department and congressional committee reports. Separate indices to each House and Senate session and to the appendix of the Register were also produced. Like the Annals, the Register was numbered in consecutive columns, not pages, with two columns per page.

The Congressional Globe

Beginning in 1833, a newspaper type publication, the Congressional Globe, began daily coverage of congressional proceedings, with bound cumulative volumes being published at the end of a session.7 Published by Francis Preston Blair and John Cook Rives, coverage continued to 1873 (the 23rd to the 42nd Congress).8 The Globe, at least initially, was not considered a verbatim account, but, according to its early subtitle, provided only "sketches of the debates and proceedings". In contrast to the Register, the Globe was thought to be more partisan with many members claiming to be misrepresented or not reported at all.9 Members could, however, submit a copy of the full text of their speeches to be included in an appendix to be published at the end of a congressional session. Like the Register appendices to the Globe also contained presidential messages, certain executive department reports, and the text of public laws, but not congressional committee reports or hearings.10 By the middle of the 19th century, due to improvements in shorthand and in congressional willingness to pay for the salaries of reporters and for copies of their reports, the Globe became a more verbatim account of congressional debates, and complaints against its reporters became fewer.11

The Congressional Globe is organized by congressional session and arranged in consecutively numbered pages, with three columns per page. Although each Congressional Globe volume represents one congressional session, after volume 14, covering the second session of the 28th Congress (1844-1845), volume numbers were no longer noted, or noted inconsistently, in the text of the Globe and were replaced by the phrase "New Series". However, many libraries have manually appended volume numbers to the spines of the bound edition of the Globe according to congressional session sequence based on the table found in the Checklist of United States Public Documents: 1789-1909, 3rd ed., Vol. 1B, pp. 1466-69. Citations to the Globe, however, should normally be by congress and session instead by volume number.12

For each congressional session an index to House proceedings and to Senate proceeding was published as well as a separate index for the appendix. Beginning with the 40th Congress (1867-1869) the index to the Globe also included a history of House and Senate bills and resolutions, which was continued by its successor publication. Bear in mind that in researching the legislative history of public laws before the 20th Century, these early debate records were often the only sources that might explain the legislative intent of Congress in enacting a particular law or one of its provisions.

The Congressional Record

The Congressional Record began publication in 1873 (43rd Congress) when Congress decided that it would be more economical and satisfactory to publish its debates and proceedings under its own direction.13 Since that time, whenever Congress has been in session, the Record has been published daily by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) on newspaper quality paper. Each Congressional Record volume covers one congressional session with consecutively numbered pages. A permanent hardbound edition of the Congressional Record on better quality paper is published after the conclusion of a congressional session, but the numeric sequence of pages differs significantly from the numeric sequence of the daily edition. For a number of decades, in addition to the daily and permanent editions of the Congressional Record, GPO also published a biweekly edition (basically a duplication of the daily edition) that was glued together inside a thick green paper cover with its own index. This "green-back" edition was discontinued in 1985 at the same time that the daily edition was glued together, instead of being stapled, inside a thick white paper covering.

The Record has varied in length over the years and varies from day to day. A single days issuance could be a few pages to hundreds of pages with multiple parts. Volume 1 covering the first session of the 43rd Congress (December 1, 1873 to June 15, 1874), contains 5500 pages. Volume 147, covering the first session of the 107th Congress (January 3 to December 20, 2001), contains 27,572 pages. In general the size of the Congressional Record gradually became larger over the years until it peaked in the 1970's when it was not uncommon to have well over 40,000 pages a session. In the past decade the range has been around 15,000 to 30,000 pages per congressional session.

Until volume 87 (77th Congress; 1941-1942) a two column per page format was used in the Congressional Record and since that time a three column format has been employed. It was also during the 77th Congress that began the standard two-session congress with the first session beginning in January on an odd numbered year and the second session beginning in January on an even numbered year. Before that time it was not uncommon to have two to four sessions in one congress and sometimes the first session may not even commence until December in the year that followed a general election. Since 1941 congressional sessions have pretty much followed the calendar year, with sessions being longer on odd years when there is no general election and shorter on even years, when there is a general election.14

The legal authority for publishing the Congressional Record is found at 44 U.S.C. § 901 et seq. The Joint Committee on Printing, established in 1895 (see 44 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.) has oversight of the Record and all congressional printing, but legislative authority is vested in the House Committee on House Administration and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.15

General Contents of the Congressional Record

The Congressional Record contains House and Senate floor proceedings, substantially verbatim transcripts of floor debate and remarks, notice of all bills introduced, full text of all conference committee reports, notices of committee and Presidential actions and communications, and statements or documents submitted by members of Congress for publication. Non-substantive changes can be made by members before the daily edition is published and again before the hardbound permanent edition is published. The daily edition is usually available the morning after that day's proceedings. The bound edition usually takes several years to be published after a congressional session ends.

The text of bills, as passed by a chamber, are normally published in the Record, but generally the text of bills as introduced, reported, or enrolled for the President's signature, are not published in the Record. One exception to this is in the "Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions" area in the Senate proceedings that, since 1971, is published after a list of newly introduced bills and additional cosponsors. In the statements area most newly introduced Senate bills will be commented upon by their sponsors and "frequently" they are accompanied by the full text of the bill. Comments on newly introduced House bills are sometimes inserted in the Extension of Remarks section, but usually not with the text of the bill. The text of standing committee reports and hearings are almost never printed in the Record, but the text of conference committee reports have always been printed within it, usually in the House proceedings. Conference committee reports contain the agreed decisions or text of joint House-Senate conferences on a bill. They also frequently contain detailed joint explanatory statements on the compromise text as well, and as such, are usually quite valuable in discerning legislative intent.

Beginning with volume 113 (90th Congress; 1967) the pages for the daily edition of the Congressional Record are consecutively numbered within a congressional session, but they start with a letter corresponding to different sections in each issue: S (Senate proceedings), H (House proceedings), E (Extension of Remarks), and D (Daily Digest).16 In alternate days either the House proceedings or the Senate proceedings lead off the day's Record, with the Extensions of Remarks section placed behind them, and at the very back of all the daily issues is the Daily Digest section. In the daily edition of the Record, between the Extension of Remarks and Daily Digest sections, on various days during the week, is placed a list of members of Congress, member committee assignments, House and Senate officers, Supreme Court justices with the circuits assigned to them, and a helpful page entitled "Laws and Rules for Publication of the Congressional Record."

The Daily Digest

Beginning with volume 93 (1st session, 80th Congress; 1947), each day's issue of the Congressional Record began to be accompanied by a "Daily Digest", which summarizes Senate and House chamber and committee actions with cites to page numbers in that day's proceedings. The daily digests, placed in the back of the daily edition, are later published together in the hardbound permanent edition of the Congressional Record as a separate book (final part) for each session volume with the references to pages in the bound edition. New public laws and committee meetings and floor schedules for the following day or week are also noted in the Daily Digest of the daily edition, but not in the bound edition. At the end of the daily edition of the Daily Digest is an explanation on how to obtain access or a subscription to the Congressional Record.

The Daily Digest is very helpful in finding particular proceedings in the Record, and it is generally the only place where most all hearings and committee actions are noted in the Record.

The Congressional Record Index

A subject index to the daily Congressional Record, formerly published biweekly, is now produced daily online and published monthly in print.The index is cummulated annually and later transferred into a bound volume index with bound citation pages covering an entire congressional session. The material in the index is organized alphabetically by subject or last name and it notes and cites to the bills, remarks, letters, and other items in the Record. Not until volume 129 (1983) are dates noted in the bound index. The bound permanent index, which has been a part of the Congressional Record from its beginning, is normally the last part (or second to last part preceding the Digest) published in a session volume series and it is usually released some five or so years after the end of a congressional session.

From the beginning the Index to the bound Congressional Record has always been accompanied by a separate Senate and House "History of Bills and Resolutions." Within it all Senate and House measures are listed with notes and citations to page numbers where activity can found in the bound Congressional Record. Notations to dates with the page numbers have only been given since volume 142 (1996). The biweekly index also contains a history of bills and resolutions, but it only covers measures that have had some action during the biweekly period. Hearings are not noted in these histories and while beginning page numbers to debates are noted the debates may continue for multiple pages without being so noted. Remarks on newly introduced bills are also not noted, but they can be found using the index. Finally it is important to understand that a bill's history may have prior or subsequent notations in a previous or subsequent session of the same congress.

Appendices and Extensions of Remarks

Besides the proceedings and index, an appendix, containing daily extensions of remarks and inserted documents has almost always been a part of the Congressional Record, but it has had a varied history. Since the days of the Register of Debates (1825-1837) members of Congress have had the opportunity to add speeches or revisions to remarks not delivered on the floor. This, as well as other material (see above), was normally placed in an appendix to the debates at the end of a congressional session. The practice was continued in the Congressional Record with members, usually from the House, being free to withhold their remarks for revision or to insert speeches and other material under "leave to print" motions that were later placed in an appendix to the Record. From volumes 1 through 57 (43rd - 65th Congresses; 1873-1919) appendices to the bound edition of the Congressional Record for each congressional session had their own consecutive pagination with the phrase "Appendix to the Congressional Record" at the top of each page. This early Appendix also had its own index and was either bound with the debates and proceedings or with the regular index.

In volumes 58 to 62 (66th Congress through the second session of the 67th Congress; 1919-1922) pagination to the bound Appendix continued from the consecutive sequence in the proceedings and the Appendix no longer had its own index. Then, beginning with volume 63 (third session of the 67th Congress, 1923), the Appendix to the bound Congressional Record ceases and does not reappear until volume 81. However, during this time the daily edition of the Record still continued to have an appendix with speeches and inserts not said on the floor. By unanimous request such material was frequently placed in the main body of the Senate proceedings, but this was seldom the case in the proceedings of the House. Unanimous requests to insert material were often objected to by some members of the House and apparently the rules of the House and the Joint Committee on Printing called for greater discipline as well.17 Thus, during this time (1923-1936) most of the inserted material from the House was never included in the permanent bound Congressional Record, nor was it indexed anywhere. However, inserted material on the Senate side was often included in the main body of its proceedings and is noted in the Congressional Record Index.

Beginning with the volume 81 (75th Congress, 1st session, 1937) the Appendix is again published in the bound Congressional Record with notes to its pages in the bound Index. Pagination in this new Appendix series is consecutively numbered in a separate format from the debates and proceedings, and starting with volume 87 (77th Congress, 1stSession, 1941) each page numeral in the appendix begins with the letter "A".

Commencing with volume 100 (83rd Congress, 2nd Session, 1954), the Appendix to the daily edition was dropped altogether from the bound version of the Congressional Record until volume 113 (90th Congress, 1st Sess.; 1967 only). During this thirteen year period from 1954 through 1966, only material in the daily Appendix that was considered germane to Senate and House proceedings was published in the bound Congressional Record and incorporated in an "Extensions of Remarks" section which was placed after the daily House or Senate proceedings. Material in the daily Appendix that was not considered germane, such as reprinted editorials, articles, speeches by executive branch officials and the like, was not printed in the bound Congressional Record during that time. 18 However, this non-germane material was still being noted and cited in the annual bound Congressional Record Index. Consequently, many libraries have collected the pages of the daily Appendix, with its newspaper quality paper, bound the pages together by session, and placed the books alongside their corresponding Congressional Record volumes. Some microform editions of the bound Congressional Record also carry the daily Appendix for this time period.

Beginning with volume 113 (90th Congress, 1st Sess., 1967) in the daily edition, "extensions of remarks" were consecutively numbered with the letter E in front of each numeral. The bound Congressional Record for 1967 has a separately numbered Appendix with all the daily extensions of remarks, but beginning with volume 114 (90th Congress, 2nd Sess., 1968) of the bound edition, an Extensions of Remarks section of both germane and non-germane matters, is placed after the House and Senate proceedings on a daily basis and all pages are numbered consecutively within a congressional session.

The Extension of Remarks section in the Record has for several decades been almost exclusively used by members of the House, as members of the Senate generally use unanimous request procedures to insert documents they want published.

Electronic Sources and Links to the Congressional Record

There are now many sources for the Congressional Record both free and commercial. As early as 1985, a full-text electronic version of the daily edition of the Congressional Record has been available on the LexisNexis and Westlaw commercial databases as well as on's archives from 1987. The Library of Congress' has the daily edition from 1995 forward and a browseable text from 1989 to 1994.. Links to Congressional Record pages are also provided in the bill tracking services of (from 1987), LexisNexis (from 1989), and (from 1999). Bill status summaries on with notes of actions by date go back to the 93rd Congress (1973).  HeinOnline has also digitized the Congressional Record Daily Edition from 1980 to the present and uniquely has provided a daily corresponding table between the pages of the daily edition and the bound edition. 19

Beginning in 1994, the Government Publishing Office (GPO), through its own on-line service, GovInfo has made the daily Record available via the Internet from 1995 forward, GPO also has available a cumulative annual Congressional Record Index to the daily edition as well as a "History of Bills" (but not resolutions) from 1983 to the present with citations to the daily edition. However, the history of bills does not include page number and date citations until 1993.

In January of 2018 GPO announced the completion of its project to make available electronically (via Govinfo) the bound Congressional Record in searchable PDF format from 1873 to 2001 and from 2005 to the near present with some months available from 2002 to 2004. Bear in mind that from 1873 to 1996 documents in the Bound Record encompass an entire book or part of a volume not just one day's worth and the background image on each page is a bit dark. Commercially, both HeinOnline and Proquest (purchased from LexisNexis) have digitized and made searchable the complete bound edition of the Congressional Record as well as predecessor publications. Predecessor publications to the Record are also available for free through the Library of Congress American Memory Project, 20 which has optically scanned all the early series, including the complete Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, and Congressional Globe, as well as the early Senate and House Journals from 1789 to 1873. While the Library of Congress works are not word searchable (nor in PDF) there are a number of indices and navigators to the publications that are word searchable. See Sources for the Congressional Record: Free and Commercial.

Besides the Congressional Record, which is a "substantially" verbatim account of House and Senate proceedings, C-SPAN has been recording and transmitting televised coverage of House proceeding since March 29, 1979 and Senate proceedings since June 2, 1986.21 Thus in determining legislative intent, some courts have preferred using C-SPAN audio tapes.22

Citing to the Congressional Record

In citing to the Congressional Record the Blue Book23 recommends the following samples: 123 CONG. REC. 17,147 (1977) or CONG. REC. 131 S11, 465-66 (daily ed. Sept. 13, 1985) (statement of Sen. Wallop). Examples from the Blue Book for predecessor publications include the following: CONG. GLOBE, 36th Cong., 1st Sess. 1672 (1860); 10 REG. DEB. 3472 (1874); and 38 ANNALS OF CONG. 624 (1822). An example of a Congressional Research Service cite is "Annunzio, Frank. Notice to House Members. Congressional Record, v. 131, Sept. 4, 1985, p. 22835." 24If the daily edition is being cited then "(daily edition)" or "(Daily Edition)" or "(Daily ed.)" should be placed just after the phrase "Congressional Record." The month can be abbreviated or written in full, but the important point is that enough information be given so that readers know exactly where to find a particular cite.

To obtain a Congressional Record document by citation method on LexisNexis (daily edition only) you can use the following format: 142 Cong. Rec. H 10357, with a space between the H and the numeral. The same format can be used on Westlaw (also daily edition only) but without the space (142 Cong. Rec. S10357). Both Lexis and Westlaw have the daily Record back to 1985 (vol. 131), but only Lexis has document by citation retrieval capability back to 1985 (99th Congress), while Westlaw has that capability from 1992 (vol. 138; 2nd session of the 102nd Congress) to the present.

Until recently most all the electronic versions of the Record were of the daily edition. However, as noted above, now GPO, HeinOnline and Proquest all have digital copies of the bound edition of the Congressional Record back to its beginning in 1873..25

Once the permanent bound edition of the Congressional Record becomes available it is considered the proper source to cite. However, it generally takes more than a half decade after the conclusion of a congressional session before the Government Publishing Office publishes all the parts of a session volume of the permanent bound Record, including its index. Even after a permanent volume of the Record has been published there has been, until recently, no easy method for determining a bound pagination cite if all you have is a cite to the daily edition. You must try to use the bound index or daily digest and try to hunt for the passage in question looking perhaps for a key phrase at the beginning of a paragraph in the approximate area under a particular heading in the proper day and section of the bound Record. Sometimes pages in the daily edition and bound edition look like mirror images of one another and the job is a little easier. Remember, if all you have are photocopied pages from the Congressional Record, page numbers from the daily edition will, after 1966, always have a letter before the numeral, but beware of concluding that straight numeric numbered pages are from bound edition if they occur before 1967. As noted earlier, even before 1967, because the Record is reorganized, there is no correspondence in the numeric pagination of the bound Record and the daily Record. However, HeinOnline has produced a daily to bound pagination locator by providing a beginning page number to the daily and bound Congressional Record for each section of the Record - Senate, House and Extension of Remarks. As of this writing HeinOnline has a locator for the years 1980- 2010 (see Citation Navigator for the Record).

Flow of Senate Proceedings and Publication in the Record

Since 1971, the flow and publication of Senate proceedings and debate have generally followed a common pattern. The Senate is called to order by the presiding officer who, according to the Constitution, is the Vice President of the United States, but since the mid-twentieth century the Senate is usually chaired by the President pro tempore (the Senator with the most seniority in the majority party) or the Acting President pro tempore designated by him or her. The Presiding officer refers to himself or herself as the chair and is addressed as Mr. President or Madam President.

A typical Senate day is begun by prayer and followed by an explanation by the majority leader of the day's schedule. Next is the transaction of routine morning business. This includes most procedural matters, such as the receipt of presidential messages, executive communications, and messages from the House, the filing of committee reports, the introduction of bills and resolutions, and other matters, and concludes with miscellaneous floor speeches delivered by various Senators under prearranged "special orders" (usually no more than five minutes each). After morning business legislative measures are then considered and debated but these may be interrupted by other non-germane speeches from Senators recognized by the presiding officer. Senate debate is generally unlimited by time or subject matter.

Although morning business precedes Senate debate in time, since 1971, most of the items in the morning business are generally placed in the Record after measures being considered and debated. Also since 1971, after the listing of measures introduced, most senators will have inserted into the Record a statement on the bill they are introducing and often the text as well. Commencing in 1983 the text of proposed amendments follows these statements on measures introduced and then by "additional statements" not delivered on the floor. These statements, not spoken on the floor of the Senate, are indicated (since 1978) by a bullet dot at the beginning and ending of the speech. Many other types of documents like correspondence, selected testimony and news articles are frequently inserted into the Record as well. At the end of the Senate proceedings is a list of nominations by the President to the Executive branch to be confirmed by the Senate.

The Senate has a seven member team of professional stenographers who are present on the floor and who are responsible to take down all that is spoken and all the business transacted, sometimes moving from senator to senator. The stenographers, known as "Official Reporters of Debate," are skilled in shorthand and the use of stenographic machines, and are also knowledgeable on parliamentary procedure. They work in 10 minute shifts and immediately after a shift, a reporter will have his or her notes transcribed, edited, and within an hour made available to relevant senators. Under Senate rules senators are permitted to make minor corrections to their remarks, but no substantive changes.26

Flow of House Proceedings and Publication in the Record

The arrangement of proceedings and debate in the House differs from that in the Senate. Being a much larger body, the House has always provided for stricter controls, including the adoption of rules setting the conditions for debating a legislative measure. The chair for the House is the Speaker of the House of Representatives elected by the majority of members of that Congress. In his absence a Speaker pro tempore, designated by the Speaker, presides over the House. The chair is addressed as Mr. Speaker or Madam Speaker. After the opening prayer and approval of the last day's journal, members are given permission to make floor speeches on topics of their choice. After this comes the consideration of various legislative measures. However, before a controversial bill is debated, a resolution setting conditions for the debate may be debated and voted upon. It is the Rules Committee, controlled by the leadership of the majority party, that sets these rules and, and unlike the Senate, unlimited amendments and debate is rarely an option in any rule. Many non-controversial measures are passed without a roll call vote under a rule suspension. During a debate articles and correspondence may be submitted and printed in smaller type in the Record. Since 1978, speeches not delivered on the House floor are generally printed in a different type face.27

After the debate on legislative matters the chair usually recognizes many members to speak on various issues under prearranged special orders (usually for five minutes). The full text of any conference report is also printed under these special orders.A listing of the special orders granted is then printed followed by a listing of extensions of remarks granted and a list of bills referred from the Senate, signed by the House or presented to the President. Typically then, a member moves to adjourn.

At the back of the House proceedings are placed listings of executive branch communications, reports from committees, bills and resolutions, additional cosponsors of measures, and the few amendments permitted by House rules. In a separate section are the "Extension of Remarks" which are speeches or inserts not made on the House floor usually given as a tribute to some person or organization or as a statement about a bill recently introduced.

The House also has a team of stenographers covering its chamber, but unlike the Senate, the House member in control of the floor at the time is the one who receives the transcript and has the responsibility of returning it. Other members who have spoken during the time period will normally be shown the transcript by the member in control. After various transcripts are reviewed by senior reporters the material, together with the Senate transcripts, are delivered to the Government Printing Office, usually beginning around 4:00 p.m. Deliveries continue every 45 minutes throughout the evening until all transcripts have been delivered. By 1:15 a.m. typesetting is usually completed, and by 2:30 a.m. the proofreading is complete. By 3:30 a.m. page makeup is completed and by 4:45 a.m. the last plate goes to press. Copies of the Congressional Record on proceedings from the day before are normally available on the Hill before Congress convenes the next day.28 Sometimes, if a late night session causes delay or if materials in the Record are particularly lengthy then the Record that day may divided into more than one part and be published the following day. Daily issues which are very short are often combined with one or more subsequent issues and printed and released with together.29


The Congressional Record, remarkable in its size, content, and turn around time, is a unique source of American public documentation. Nearly all the major and minor policies and concerns of the day are discussed and debated in its pages. It is likely to be with us for a long time to come, but the format in which we read it has changed and no doubt will continue to change in the future.


1. Elizabeth G. McPherson, Reporting the Debates of Congress, 28 QUAR. J. SPEECH 141-142 (1942). While reporters were allowed access to the House of Representatives as early as April 8, 1789, the Senate did not open its doors to reporters until December 9, 1795, and it was not until January 6, 1802, that the Senate voted to admit reporters on its actual floor.

2. MILDRED L. AMER, THE CONGRESSIONAL RECORD; CONTENT, HISTORY AND ISSUES 2-4 (CRS Report 93-60) (Jan. 14, 1993). Early commercial publications that covered Congress included the New York Daily Gazette, the Philadelphia Gazette, the Congressional Register, the National Intelligencer and others.

3. Peggy Garvin, Before the Record, 32 LAW LIB. LIGHTS 1 (Jan./Feb., 1989).

4. The formal title of the Annals of Congress is The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States. After the first few volumes were printed in 1834 the publication was halted until 1846 when Congress appropriated money for its completion which occurred in 1856. During the second effort the first few volumes of the Annals were reprinted and repaginated. Thus for the first few congresses page citations to the Annals may differ depending on the edition used.

5. Preface and title to volume one of the Register of Debates in Congress.

6. McPherson, p. 144.

7. Originally, the Globe appears to have been issued every few days at 16 page intervals, whether or not a sentence or a day's proceedings was completed. Eventually, Congress stipulated that its proceedings be published daily. See Act of March 2, 1865, Chap. 73 at Sec. 7, 13 Stat. 460.

8. For its first few volumes the Globe was published contemporaneously with the Register until the later ceased publication after the first session of the 25th Congress (1837).

9. McPherson, p. 145-146. Blair & Rives owed their appointments to President Andrew Jackson and were considered by some as supportive of the Democratic Party. Members of the Democratic Party had heretofore complained that their remarks were sometimes left out or shortened in the Register of Debates.


11. McPherson, p. 147. After the introduction and adoption of the phonetic shorthand method of Issac Pitman by the Senate in 1848 and by the House in 1850, near verbatim reporting of congressional debate became a reality for the first time and complaints against reporters were noticeably fewer.

12. Schmeckebier, p. 138.

13. Amer, p. 5. Annual appropriations had been provided to report congressional debate since 1863 and the Congressional Record only began after the contract with the publisher of the Congressional Globe had expired on March 3, 1873, at the end of the 42nd Congress.

14. See Sessions of Congress with Corresponding Debate Record Volume Numbers ( See also Resume of Congressional Activity (

15. Amer, p. 6 and 28 Stat. 603.

16. Quarterly statements on newly registered lobbyists were published in the daily and bound editions of the Congressional Record until volume 142 (1996). In the daily edition these page numbers began with an "HL".

17. See 65 CONG. REC. 337-38 (1923), 68 CONG. REC. 1045-46 (1928), 69 CONG. REC. 3863-64 (1929), 72 CONG. REC. 1316 (1930), and 75 CONG. REC. 3330-31 (1932).

18. Schmeckebier, p. 139-141.


20. The relevant collection is entitled A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates 1774-1873. See

21. For a discussion of the gradual growth of televised proceedings see: Joe Morehead, Congress and the Congressional Record: A Magical Mystery Tour, 13 SERIALS LIBRARIAN 66-69 (1987).


23. THE BLUE BOOK: A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION 95 (17th ed. Harv. Law Rev. Association) (2000).

24. Amer, p. 20.

25. See LLSDC's Sources for the Congressional Record: Free and Commercial.

26. Amer., p. 12.

27. For a discussion of the convoluted use of bullets and different type faces in the Congressional Record see Joe Morehead, Congress and the Congressional Record: A Magical Mystery Tour, 13 SERIALS LIBRARIAN 61-66 (1987).

28. Amer, p. 13.

29. The "Laws and Rules for Publication of the Congressional Record," adopted by the Joint Committee on Printing, is published on most days in the daily edition of the "hard copy" of the Congressional Record right before the Daily Digest section.

Last updated on May 2, 2020
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