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Library Guides

Government Information: United States Serial Set

Guide to Government Information and Drew University's Federal Documents Library

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Serial Set?

"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." (from the Library of Congress )

What part of the Serial Set does the Drew Library own?

The Drew Library does not own the complete Serial Set. The Library does hold numerous volumes from the 19th century, but our most complete holdings are from 1979 onward (the 96th Congress; Serial Set volume 13301 onward). From the 105th Congress (1997; Serial Set volume 14388) onward, the Serial Set is in microfiche format in the Drew Library. There is a listing of volumes the library owns in our Shelf List catalog for government documents (ask a Reference Librarian for help!)

Where can I find the Serial Set in the Drew Library?

Print Serial Set volumes are found on Level A in the Rose Memorial Library section of the Library (map). The Serial Set in microfiche is located on Level C (main level) in the Microform Room in the Rose Memorial Library section of the Library (map).

Is any of the Serial Set online?


  • The Serial Set available in full text online and keyword searchable via FDsys and GovInfo (Government Printing Office) from the 104th Congress onward.
  • The Library of Congress provides access to earlier volumes of the Serial Set for the following Congresses 23rd (1833)| 25th | 27th | 30th | 31st | 32nd | 33rd | 34th | 35th | 36th | 37th | 38th | 39th | 40th | 41st | 42nd | 45th | 49th | 50th | 51st | 52nd | 53rd | 54th | 56th | 57th | 58th | 59th | 60th | 61st | 63rd | 64th (1915-1917).What kinds of tools are available to access the Serial Set? Documents and Reports in the Serial Set for the above congresses are facsimile, and full text searching within documents is limited. An index is available for some documents, which can aid finding subjects within these documents. From the Library of Congress "Documents and reports from the U.S. Serial Set consist for the most part of digital facsimile images. The searchability of these items varies considerably, however. Some items - for example, those featured in the special presentations - consist of machine-readable text, while others have limited (e.g., index only) or no searchability. Included in the U.S. Serial Set link page are individual U.S. Serial Set documents, reports, and maps digitized in other American Memory collections. However, these items will not yield any hits through searches limited to A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, however."
  • The Government Catalog (Via GPO) provides a catalog to the Serial Set. "This catalog contains records for House and Senate Reports, House and Senate Documents, Senate Executive Reports and Documents, and Senate Treaty Documents. The records date from July 1976 and are complete from the 95th Congress (1977-1978) to the present. Links are provided to publications when they are available online."
  • ProQuest Congressional (Drew access only - access from Electronic Resources by Title) provides indexing to Reports and Documents that make up the Serial Set from 1969 onward. Full text is limitedProvides legislative history of bills.
  • CONGRESS.GOV (from the Library of Congress) - provides full text searching of bills in the House and Senate from the 101st Congress (1989-1991) onward. The Summary box is comprehensive, providing links to bills, hearings, House and Senate reports and documents, CBO scoring of bills, and Congressional Research Service articles, where available and legislative histories. Full text of Serial Set materials is available.
  • US DOCS REF 328.73 C749c CIS US Serial Set Index, located on Level A in the Rose Memorial Library section of the Library (map), provides subject access to Reports and Documents that make up the Serial Set from 1789 through 1969. Finding List volumes are part of this multi-volume set, placing Reports and Documents to their appropriate Serial Set volumes. The best resource for locating older Documents and Reports within the Serial Set. Also provides legislative histories of bills.
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set: Numerical Lists of Documents and Reports(85th Congress (1957-1958 onward) "lists numerically, with a brief title, all of the Senate and House Documents and Reports issued during a Session of Congress. The Numerical List also indicates the specific volume of the Congressional Serial Set in which each Document and Report is bound." Best way to find which Serial Set volume contains a specific Report of Document.
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set: Schedule of Serial Set Volumes (100th Congress (1987 onward) "lists numerically, by Serial Number, each volume of the Congressional Serial Set as well as the contents of each volume." Best way to find which Serial Set volume contains a specific Report of Document.

What if I can't find what I need in the above resources?

The Drew Library owns several print resources which index Serial Set materials. Resources with a Dewey Decimal number are shelved in the US DOCS REF section located on Level A in the Rose Memorial Library section of the Library. Documents with SuDoc numbers are shelved with the main documents collection in compact shelving in the Learning Center side of the library on A-level (map).

  • The CIS Annual Index to Congressional Publications and Public Laws, provides subject access to Reports and Documents that make up the Serial Set from 1970 to 2004. This resources continues the CIS US Serial Set Index mentioned above. This print resources overlaps with LexisNexis Congressional. All provide legislative histories for bills and public laws, including the House and Senate reports and documents which make up the Serial Set. References to Serial Set volumes accompany each entry. US DOCS REF  328.7303 C749c
  • A Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States Sept. 5, 1774 - March 4, 1881 (also known as Poore's, after the author Benjamin Perley Poore), indexes Serial Set materials. The organization is by year, with index to subjects/authors (in many cases, authors will be the Federal agency that produced the document) at the back. Document and Report numbers are reconciled with Serial Set volumes.  US DOCS REF 015.73 P823d
  • Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government 1881-1893, provides indexing for Serial Set materials for the 47th through the 52nd Congress. Entries are arranged by subject. Document and Report numbers are reconciled with Serial Set volumes. US DOCS REF 015.73 U58c
  • Tables of and Annotated Index to the Congressional Series of United States Public Documents provides lists of Senate and House documents and reports produced by the first Fourteen Congresses through the 52nd Congress. Document and Report numbers are reconciled with Serial Set volumes. Keyword indexing to these materials comprises the bulk of this resource. GP 3. 2: P96
  • The various versions of the Monthly Catalog of Government Documents (in part duplicated and continued by the Government Catalog ) indexes Reports and Documents produced by Congressional committees and bound in the Serial Set. The Drew Library has this series in print from 1893 to 1995. GP 3. 6:, GP 3. 8:

Are there other resources? 

Yes, there are some rather obscure resources the Drew Library owns which are worth looking in.

  • Numerical Lists and Schedule of Volumes - 1937 through 1980. GP 3.7/2: (Congress/Session) 
  • United States Congressional Serial Set Catalog: Numerical Lists and Schedule of Volumes - 1983-1986 GP 3. 34: (yr)

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