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United States Serial Set

Overview of the U.S. Serial Set and search tips

Congressional Materials

The congressional material in the Serial Set includes the committee reports, journals, manuals, and administrative reports of both the House and Senate, in addition to a variety of directories, orations, and special publications. Unfortunately, not all these categories appear consistently in the set.

  • Committee reports on proposed public and private legislation are among the most important of the Serial Set’s congressional publications and have always been part of the set. 
  • The Journals of proceedings of both Houses appeared from the beginning but have been excluded from the set since 1953, while Senate and House manuals did not appear in it until 1896 but are still included. 
  • The Congressional Directory was privately printed and distributed until 1865 and was not given serial numbering until 1882. 
  • Orations and eulogies have always appeared, but recently addresses on deceased members of Congress have been printed for distribution outside the Serial Set scheme.
  • The Congressional Record and its predecessors (Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, & the Congressional Globe) have never been included.
  • Texts of bills and resolutions appear only sporadically, and then only in the early years of the Serial Set.
  • Committee hearings and prints have been considered committee in origin rather than congressional publications and have been excluded. However, during the 19th century, some hearings of particular note were printed as Serial Set items.
  • The Senate frequently sat in secret session in early Congresses. Proceedings and other records of such sessions have never been included except by special order.

House and Senate Documents

House and Senate documents are the class of publications issued by congressional committees or the full House or Senate that are numbered with the designation H. Doc. or S. Doc. This publication type can contain:

  • Presidential messages proposing new legislation or vetoing legislation passed by Congress
  • Special reports of executive branch agencies
  • Congressional committee activity reports
  • Committee-sponsored special studies and background information published as official documents rather than committee prints
  • Annual reports of certain patriotic and veterans groups
  • Memorial tributes
  • Compilations of background information related to annual intercollegiate and high school debate topics