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Federal Legislative History Research Guide: Hearings

Resources and process for locating the legislative history of a federal law.

Committee Hearings

Hearings are held by standing and special committees of the House and Senate about particular issues of concern or about proposed legislation. In legislative history research, the hearings about proposed legislation are typically the most useful, because they often provide information about the purpose or expected effect of a particular piece of legislation.

It is important to note, that hearings are not held on all proposed legislation and that not all hearings are published. In addition, hearings relevant to a particular piece of legislation may have been held and published during a session of Congress prior to the one in which the law was eventually enacted.

Hearings Available on Internet Subscription Databases at Hastings

Westlaw offers selected recent congressional testimony in the databases listed below:

- USTESTIMONY contains selected transcripts of oral or written statements from US congressional committee hearings from 1993 - 1995; full coverage begins in 1996.

- USPOLTRANS contains transcripts of testimony from selected US congressional committee hearings since 1994.

- CONGTMY contains congressional testimony, transcripts, and official documents from the committees of the Congress from 1995 to current, as provided by NewsRoom.

Lexis offers selected recent hearings in the files listed below:

- CQ Congressional Testimony (LEGIS;CNGTST): includes written statements of witnesses testifying before congressional committees since 1993.

- CQ House Congressional Hearings Summaries (LEGIS;HEARNG): contains recent transcripts of congressional hearings, individual written testimony of witnesses and detailed reports of select committee hearings.

- CQ Political Transcripts (LEGIS;POLTRN): contains transcripts of congressional hearings since 1995.

- Federal News Service (LEGIS;FEDNEW): includes a few congressional hearings since 1988 that relate to a major news story.

- National Narrowcast Network Transcripts (LEGIS;NNNTRN): provides transcripts of select congressional hearings from October 1993 through July 2000.

ProQuest Congressional (access: restricted to Hastings students, faculty, and staff):
This subscription Internet database includes the full-text for only a limited number of recent hearings.

HeinOnline (access: restricted to Hastings students, faculty, and staff)
This subscription Internet database includes the full-text for select hearings from the 50th Congress (1887) to present.

Hearings Available from Government Websites

A limited number of hearings from the 85th Congress (1957) through the most recent Congress. Replaced FDsys in 2018.

House Committee Hearings  - Selected recent house hearings are organized by committee and available at this site.

Hearings Available in Print at Hastings

Hearings from the 94th Congress (1975) to 112th Congress (2012) are in the 6th Floor Stacks

U.S. Hearings and Reports. Hearings are organized by:
- Congress (e.g., 108th Congress)

- Chamber (e.g., House)

- Committee (e.g., Committee on Energy & Commerce)

- Title (e.g., "E-Commerce: The Case of Online Wine Sales and Direct Shipment"). The hearings for each committee are organized alphabetically by title.

Note: To find the congress, chamber, committee, and title of a particular hearing, you may need to use the CIS indexes listed above, or ProQuest Congressional, or the Hastings Online Library Catalog at

Searching Hint:   If you've looked everywhere, and can't find a hearing, put the information into Google Book Search. Google Book Search is scanning some Congressional hearings.

Hearings Available on Microfiche

All of the hearings listed in the CIS indexes mentioned in the Indexes and Finding Aids section above, are available on microfiche in Micrographics. To locate a hearing, you need the CIS year and the CIS number assigned to each hearing. Please contact a Reference Librarian if you need help.

- House and Senate hearings from 1869-1970 are in cabinets 7-8.

- House and Senate hearings from 1970-2007 are in cabinets 2-6.

- Unpublished House hearings from 1833-1964 are in cabinet 8.

- Unpublished Senate hearings from 1823-1976 are in cabinet 8.