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Federal Legislative History: Locating Microfiche

Using the Serial Set

Before you look for microfiche.  Try to locate the document in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set on Newsbank Readex.

The United States Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as the Serial Set, began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817). Documents before 1817 may be found in the American State Papers available to UH logins on Newsbank Readex.

The Serial Set contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. The reports are usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. The documents include all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate. Documents cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set.

The serial number is a unique number applied to each book in the series of congressional publications running consecutively from the 15th Congress. The serial number may be useful for locating items, but not for citation. The documents and reports series have three numbers:

  • an individual report or document-publication number,
  • a volume number of each series for each session of Congress, and
  • the serial number.

Citation. Documents and reports can be located using the volume or serial number but should be cited using the publication number and Congress and session number.

Why Microfiche? In the late 1980s the Congressional Information Service (CIS) issued the Serial Set, along with its predecessor American State Papers, through 1969 (v.1-12880) on microfiche; the entire set constituted about 117,000 fiches.

What information is needed to locate a fiche? You will need the CIS number and the Congressional Publication Number.  For example, The Migratory Bird Convention with Japan has the CIS number 74-S263-16.  The document is S. Rpt. 93-851.  This information can be found on Congressional (ProQuest) (UH logins only).  See the entry (UH logins only). Take this information to the Circulation counter and ask for this CIS microfiche.