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Researching Federal Legislative History: Home

This is a guide to researching federal legislative history. It includes an overview of the federal legislative process; the pathway of a bill and the documents that get created; and an overview of how to find these documents.


This guide walks you through what you will need to understand whenever doing federal legislative history research:

  • The federal legislative process, and why we care about legislative history
  • The pathway of a bill and the documents that get created en route to its passage - i.e., all of the documents that comprise a law's legislative history
  • How to find all of these legislative history documents

How to Use This Guide

This is a guide to researching federal legislative history, consisting of five parts.  Parts One and Two provide helpful background on the components of a legislative history, and Parts Three through Five show you how to find everything discussed in Parts One and Two.  You can work with these parts in sequence if you've never done legislative history research before, or you can just work with those parts specific to your needs.

The librarians at the Robert Crown Law Library are available to assist you.  If you have any questions about these materials, please write us ( or call us (650-725-0800).

Part One: The Federal Legislative Process

If you have little background conducting legislative history research, or are unfamiliar with the federal legislative process, we suggest starting with the following brief video:

Part Two: The Pathway of a Bill and the Documents that Get Created

Part Three: Precompiled Legislative Histories (ProQuest Congressional)

Part Four: Compiling Legislative Histories on Your Own Using Westlaw and Lexis

Part Five: Compiling Legislative Histories on Your Own Using Free Government Websites


Ask us anything!

Law librarians and library staff are available to help you find your way around the library and its legal materials, provide research support, and assist you in locating materials that are not in our library. There are several ways to contact us:

In Person: The Loan and Reference desks are on the main floor of the law library.

Call us

Loan Desk: (650) 723-2477
Reference Desk: (650) 725-0800

Email us