Use of this guide assumes some familiarity with legal research. For assistance, ask at the Reference Counter.
The U.S. Code, cited as "U.S.C.," is a multi-volume publication, issued every six years (with the 2000 edition in progress). The Code contains statutes, or public laws, currently in force; it is updated in annual bound supplements.
The Code is arranged alphabetically into 50 subject titles. Titles can have a narrow or large scope: Title 9, Arbitration, covers seven pages in the 1994 edition, while Title 42, Public Health and Welfare is over 6,000 pages and is contained in four volumes in that same edition. Access to statutes, which are grouped by subject, is through the multi-volume index for each edition. This index is detailed and contains many cross references. Preliminary research in secondary sources such as LexisNexis Academic is recommended for proper terminology and context. LexisNexis is a subscription database accessible only from Drew Network computers or through the Drew proxy server. Select "Research Resources" on the Library homepage, then select LexisNexis Academic from the "Online Reference Sources and Articles" drop down menu. From the LexisNexis homepage, click on Legal Research, then either Legal News or Law Review.
U.S.C. citations are as follows: 42 U.S.C .§§ 2000bb to 2000bb-4. The 42 indicates Title of the United States Code, 2000bb to 2000bb-4 indicates section numbers.
The use of Title in the U.S. Code can be confusing because Acts (which make up the Code) can also have Titles: for example, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A means to distinguish the two is that U.S.C. Titles are expressed in Arabic numerals, while Titles within Acts are usually expressed in Roman numerals.
Online, searchable versions of the U.S.C. are available from a variety of sources:, FDsys; Office of the Law Revision Counsel (House of Representatives), Cornell University Law School. The Electronic Version and the Cornell University Law School site are easy to navigate and browse.
Shelved consecutively. Drew library owns volumes from the 38th Congress onward (incomplete).
Statutes at Large are a record of private laws and public laws, Concurrent Resolutions and Proclamations passed by Congress and signed by the President since 1789. (Private laws effect specific individuals, or groups of individuals.) Volumes are arranged chronologically and laws are identified with the Congress that passed them (or amended them). Each session of Congress (generally two) is assigned its own volume number for Statutes at Large. Each volume number is normally issued in multiple parts. Each part indicates sequential page numbers: Vol. 113, Part 3, pp. 1545-2183 covers laws, etc passed by the 106th Congress, 1st session. The Contents pages at the beginning of each part of every volume indicates which laws, etc. are contained within each bound issue, by reference to a page number. Statutes at Large provides a great deal of information about a particular law, including legislative history.
Statues at Large citations are as follows: 113 STAT. 1546, with the 113 referring to volume number, the STAT. referring to Statutes at Large, and 1546 referring to the page number within that volume.
Prior to being published in bound volumes, public and private laws are issued individually as slip laws. The library currently receives hard copies of slip laws.FDsys provides access to slip laws, archived from the 104th Congress onward. The first seventeen volumes of the Statutes at Large, covering the laws of the first 43 Congresses, 1789-1875 can be accessed at the Library of Congress American Memory Project - Statutes at Large.
Context and background information to laws passed by Congress through a topic or subject is possible from Proquest Congressional (Drew only, accessed from Resources by Title) and Thomas (from the Library of Congress) The several reference tools located in US Docs Ref section provide background and aid access to laws from 1789 onward, through subject/keyword or through Act name (CIS, Monthly Catalog, Cumulative Subject or Title Index to the Monthly Catalog, etc.). University of Berkeley Library provides helpful guides for Congressional Research.
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), updated and issued annually, contains regulations issued by Federal executive agencies. These 200-odd paperback volumes are arranged by 50 Titles. However, unlike the U.S. Code (U.S.C.), these Titles are arranged by agency. A list of all agencies and corresponding Titles appears in the back of every CFR volume. Like the U.S.C., Titles in the CFR appear as Arabic numerals. CFR titles and U.S.C. Titles do not necessarily match.
CFR citations appear as follows: 12 CFR 500.1. The 12 refers to Title 12 of the CFR, 500 to part 500, and .1 to section 1 of that part.
Access to regulations by subject or topic, by U.S.C. or Statutes at Large citation is possible with the CRF Index and Finding Aids volume of the CFR, the final volume of the series. However, as with the U.S.C., preliminary research in secondary sources such as Lexis-Nexis is helpful for proper terminology particularly for subject or topic searching, and in the case of the CFR, for identifying the appropriate Federal agency involved in enforcing or overseeing the regulation. The CFR is also available online at FDsys.
LSA: List of CFR Sections Affected updates changes to Federal regulations. A record of affected sections appears in each volume of the current CFR. The LSA is also available online from GPO Access. Detailed information about Federal regulations that appear in the CFR, as well as updates to the annual CFR, appear in the Federal Register.
The Drew library owns microfiche from 1973 onward.
Federal agency rules, proposed rules, and notices as well as executive orders and other presidential documents are published in the Federal Register, issued daily Monday through Friday. Online versions of the Federal Register are available from FDsys Access from Volume 59 (1994. LexisNexis Academic has the full text of the FR from 1936 onward (Drew only, accessed from Resources by Title).
Federal Register citations appear as follows: 41 FR 56,623-56,624 [Dec. 29, 1976]. 41 indicates the volume, and 56,523-56,524 the page numbers, followed by the publication date.
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