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Government Publications: United States

Guide to United States government publications.

Definition: Committee reports & congressional documents

Reports originate from congressional committees and deal with proposed legislation and other policy issues, investigations, and internal committee matters. Congressional reports may be issued by the House or Senate. Congress issues different types of reports, including:

  • Committee report: Document accompanying a measure reported from a committee. It contains an explanation of the provisions of the measure, arguments for its approval, votes held in markup, individual committee members’ opinions, cost estimates, and other information.  Reports may also result from oversight or investigative activities.
  • Conference report: The document presenting an agreement reached by a joint temporary committee (a conference committee) appointed to negotiate a compromise between the House and Senate.
  • Senate executive report: Reports of the Committee on Foreign Relations relating to Treaties between the United States and foreign nations which have been submitted to the U.S. Senate for ratification, or are reports of various Senate Committees regarding nomination of individuals.

Documents contain various other materials ordered printed by both Houses of Congress. 

  • Document (House or Senate): Documents can include reports of Executive Departments and Agencies, some of which are submitted in accordance with Federal law, then later are ordered printed as Documents. Sometimes Committee Prints are ordered printed as documents, if the information they contain is in demand. Documents have a larger distribution than Committee Prints.
  • Senate treaty document (97th Congress to present): The text of a treaty as submitted to the Senate by the executive branch, as well as letters of transmittal from the President and the Secretary of State, and accompanying background documentation.
  • Senate executive document (1st Congress to 96th Congress): The text of a treaty as submitted to the Senate by the executive branch, as well as letters of transmittal from the President and the Secretary of State, and accompanying background documentation.

Committee prints include a wide variety of publications approved and issued by committees or portions of committees, such as majority or minority staff. Prints issued by only a portion of the committee are normally identified as such on the cover. A committee print can contain anything relevant to the legislative and oversight functions of Congress. The print content varies widely from committee to committee, and over the course of time the function and format have been inconsistent. Examples of committee print content include:

  • Research papers by committee staff, Congressional Research Service experts, or outside consultants
  • Committee rules and calendars
  • Compilations of laws
  • Transcripts of markup sessions or other proceedings
  • Legislative descriptions and analyses

Definitions from Glossary and U.S. Congressional Serial Set: What It Is and Its History.

Key databases for recent reports, documents, prints (1970 to present)

Note: For congressional publications prior to 1970, use the resources for the U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

1970 (91st Congress) to present

Reports, documents & prints

  • ProQuest Congressional
    • Reports:
      • 1990 to present - Full text for most reports
      • 1989 to present - Abstracts and indexing for all reports published
      • 1970-1998 - Abstracts and indexing for most reports (excludes private, ceremonial, housekeeping and land transactions reports)
    • Documents:
      • 1995 to present - Full text for most documents
      • 1989 to present - Abstracts and indexing for all documents
      • 1970 to 1988 - Abstracts and indexing for most documents (documents excluded include executive branch, housekeeping, and ceremonial documents)
    • Prints:
      • 1995 to present - Full text for selected prints; abstracts and indexing for all publications
      • 1970 to present - Abstracts and indexing for all publications
1995 (104th Congress) to present


Documents & prints


U.S. Congressional Serial Set

The United States Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as the Serial Set, began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817). The Serial Set contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set Documents before 1817 may be found in the American State Papers.

1789 (1st Congress) to 1838 (25th Congress)
  • American State Papers via Library of Congress
    "[C]omprising a total of thirty-eight physical volumes, contains the legislative and executive documents of Congress during the period 1789 to 1838. The collection includes documents that cover the critical historical gap from 1789 to the printing of the first volume of the U.S. Serial Set." - From the Web site  Includes index.
  • American State Papers
    Call Number:  Y 1: Government Publications/United States
    Executive and legislative letters, reports and other documents selected by the secretary of the Senate and clerk of the House.  The SDSU Library has 1789 (1st Congress) to 1823 (17th Congress) only.  Includes index.
1789 (1st Congress) to 1860 (6th Congress)
  • New American State Papers
    Call Number: Y 1.1/a: Government Publications/United States
    Includes "[t]he original American State Papers, published by Gales & Seaton between 1832 and 1861; the serial volumes of the official documents of the U.S. Congress printed continuously after 1817; and the Legislative Records Section of the National Archives in Washington D.C." - From the Introduction  Includes index.
1789 (1st Congress) to 1801 (4th Congress)
  • National State Papers of the US, 1789-1817
    Call Number: Y1.1/b: Government Publications/United States
    This set reproduces the reports and documents mentioned in the Congressional Journals. The SDSUy Library has 1789 (1st Congress) to 1801 (6th Congress) only.  Included index.
1817 (15th Congress, 1st Session to present
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set
    Call Number:  Y1.1: Government Publications/United States
    Library has volumes in print and in a variety of microforms.  Check Catalog record for format.


  • ProQuest Congressional
    1970 to 1994 abstracts and indexing only
    1995 to present abstracts, indexing and link to full-text
  • CIS US Serial Set Index
    1789 1st Congress) to 1969 (91st Congress, 1st Session)
    Call Number: GP 3.34: Government Publications/United States
    Index for House and Senate reports and documents in the "Serial Set."
  • Numerical List & Schedule of Volumes
    1933 (73rd Congress) to 1980 (96th Congress)
    Call Number: GP 3.34: Reference/United States
    Cross-references report and document numbers with Serial Set volume numbers. It was issued only for the years 1933 to 1980.  Library has 1957 (85th Congress) to 1980 (96th Congress).