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How to . . .   find the Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is a record of the proceedings of Congress. It is published each day that one or both chambers of Congress is in session and is available the day after Congress met. You can read the full text of the Congressional Record on the Web, find it in libraries, or purchase it from the Government Printing Office.

Web Access

The Congressional Record began publication in 1873; there are three earlier publications that cover the debates of Congress from 1789 through 1873.  The full text of all years of the earlier publications are available on the Library of Congress’ Century of Lawmaking Web site. The Annals of Congress cover the 1st Congress through the first session of the 18th Congress (1789-1824). The Register of Debates covers the second session of the 18th Congress through the first session of the 25th Congress (1824-1837). The Congressional Globe covers the 23rd Congress through the 42nd Congress (1833-1873). In addition, this Web site provides the full text of the first Congressional Record that covered 1873-1875; however, Web access to the full text of the Congressional Record does not pick up again until 1989.

The full text of the contemporary Congressional Record is available on THOMAS and on the Government Printing Office (GPO) Web site. On THOMAS, you can browse the Record for the current Congress, or you can do a fielded search back to the 101st Congress (1989-90). On the GPO Web site, you can do fielded searches or you can retrieve a page (if you know the specific page number you are looking for) back to the 104th Congress (1995-96).

The contemporary Congressional Record Index is also available on THOMAS, back to 1995, and on the GPO Web site, back to 1983. The GPO Web site also provides easy access to the History of Bills and Resolutions portion of the Congressional Record Index.

Both the full text of the Record and the Congressional Record Index are updated daily on GPO and THOMAS.


The Congressional Record and its index are generally available in federal depository libraries. The federal depository library program is made up of over 1,300 libraries that collect government documents and make them available to the public for borrowing or reading. A list of depository libraries is available on GPO's Web site. Most depository libraries are within a university or state library, so sometimes borrowing privileges are restricted.

Larger public libraries may also collect the Congressional Record. You can find your public library by looking it up in the phone book; libraries are often listed in the local government section of the blue pages or they may be listed in the yellow pages under "libraries." Or you can look at a list of libraries that have Web sites or a list of state libraries .

Purchasing from GPO

The Government Printing Office (GPO) sells single issues of and subscriptions to the Congressional Record.  More information is available from GPO by calling 202-512-1800 or writing to the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954.


Virtual Reference Desk

For information on the Senate, Congress, the legislative process and the federal government, the Virtual Reference Desk is a good place to begin.

Contact your Senators

Follow this guide on how to contact your Senators by phone, postal mail, or on the Web.

Senate Historical Office

Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.

Compilations of Law

Compilations of Law links to the full text of several popular acts of law as they have been amended over the years.