Legislative History on Lexis and ProQuest Congressional Documents


Legislative History on Lexis and ProQuest
Congressional Documents, for the Environmental Legal Research Course at
Boston College Law School. In 1970, a company called CIS, Congressional
Information Service, started collecting, indexing and abstracting congressional hearings, reports,
and committee prints. Unlike other legislative history materials
available at that time, they didn’t just capture the documents associated with enacted
laws, they indexed and abstracted every hearing, report, or committee print, and made those
documents available on demand, so you could actually do legislative history research for
documents associated with bills that were not enacted no matter where you were. LexisNexis purchased CIS, but subsequently
sold CIS to ProQuest, which provides the interface most used for CIS content today. But Lexis still provides access to CIS. To access these materials through ProQuest,
be sure to come in through the Boston College Law Library A-Z Databases List. You arrive at the advanced search page. Along the left side of the page, you can see
the types of materials that ProQuest Congressional Documents provides access to. You might notice that different types of materials
have different years of coverage. These represent the materials that we have
access to through our subscription. Other libraries may provide access to more
or less historical data. While you can apply limits after a search,
if you choose your content type first, you can make better use of field searching. Use the pull down menu at the top to select
Search by number. This provides you with a variety of ways to
find documents by their citations or other types of reference numbers, including bill
number, Public Law Number, and Statutes at Large citation. When looking for legislative history materials
for enacted legislation, I find it easiest to start with the public law number. Public Law 96-510 is CERCLA. On the bottom left, you can see some of the
types of documents this search retrieved and we can filter by document type. Above that you can see that we could also
filter by date or Congress. Let’s start with the overview provided by
the single legislative history. We land on this reference page that has very
little information. Clicking on this the title we link to
the legislative history document which is in the form of an abstract. Newer legislative histories hyperlink to many
of the documents mentioned. Along the left is a little index to this legislative
history that will let us jump to a particular part of this abstract. There are hyperlinks to the text of bills
related to this law. There’s also a summary of what this law
does. There are references to proceedings on the
floor of both chambers of Congress on this bill. This history does not include links to the
text of the Congressional Record pages on which this bill was debated and voted on,
but some do. This legislative history tracks not just the
bill that was actually enacted, it gives some history of related bills from the 96th Congress
and one from the 95th. Report information includes bibliographic
information, including a CIS number, which links to
a CIS abstract of the report. Newer report abstracts can contain a link
to the full-text of the report, and older reports can be accessed on microfiche using
the CIS number. The legislative history also contains references
to all the hearings held on this legislation, often from multiple Congresses. The accession numbers link to CIS abstracts
of the hearings. Hearings abstracts contain detailed information
and links to PDFs of the full text of the hearing. The testimony section details the witnesses,
the subjects they spoke on, and the pages of the hearings where their testimony can
be found. Back in the legislative history there is more
bibliographic information on committee prints. Under the heading, “Miscellaneous Other
Publications” is bibliographic information on the presidential signing statement. What isn’t obvious without a closer look,
is that while the original search results and the legislative history both contain many
of the same documents, each contains some information not in the other. So a very thorough search of the legislative
history would likely start with the CIS compiled legislative history, but continue with a search
through the individual documents retrieved in our initial public law number search. If you don’t have a public law number, you
can search by keyword, subject, title, or the name or affiliation of a witness testifying
before a committee. As was mentioned earlier, the CIS Abstracts
and Index are also available in Lexis Advance in the US-CIS Index and CIS Historical Index
databases. Here is how the CIS Legislative history of
PL 96-510 looks on Lexis. CIS numbers in this legislative history hot
link to other CIS abstracts of reports, hearings, committee prints, and documents in Lexis. Lexis also has 14 compiled legislative history
databases on environmental laws. To find them first click on Statutes and Legislation
in Explore Content by Content Type. Here you’ll find a Legislative Histories
Link. These are mostly CIS legislative histories. Click the “I” to find out who compiled
the legislative history or click on the title to search the documents in the legislative
history database.

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