Update Increases Accessibility, Readability of Bills and Resolutions Dating from 1799
The Library of Congress announced today that U.S. congressional records dating back to the days of printing presses and the telegraph are now easily accessible on mobile devices. With this latest update of Congress.gov — the official website for U.S. federal legislative information — the Library has transitioned over 33,000 bills and resolutions crafted by Congress between 1799 and 1873 (the 6th to 42nd U.S. Congresses) to a modern, user-friendly web format.
“When the founding fathers wrote into the constitution that Congress must keep and publish records of its proceedings, none of them could have imagined a day when all those records could fit in the palm of your hand,” said Jim Karamanis, director of IT design and development at the Library of Congress. “Congress.gov is designed to be the single, authoritative source for official legislative information, and we’re proud to be able to add this treasure trove of historical congressional records to the site.”
The Library’s “Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation” collection has been a premier source of historic legal documents since it was first published online in 1998, serving as an access point to the lawmaking of early America. The bills and resolutions provide insight into events during the nation’s most formative years, from the Louisiana Purchase to the American Civil War and Reconstruction.
These records from the Century of Lawmaking site join existing congressional data on Congress.gov beginning in the mid-20th century. Subsequent migrations over the next two years from the site will include other historical documents, such as “Journals of the Continental Congress,” the records of the daily proceedings of the first and second Continental Congresses, records from the Constitutional Convention and the state constitutional ratification debates.
Congress.gov provides access to accurate, timely and complete legislative information for members of Congress, legislative agencies and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office and the Congressional Research Service.
This major update to Congress.gov marks its fifth anniversary since it replaced the former public legislative website THOMAS, and also adds other historical congressional material, including the Congressional Record Bound edition back to the 71st Congress (1929-1930). Other recent updates have made text available for public and private laws enacted from the 82nd Congress (1951-1952) onward and new usability features, including a new citation tool, ‘find your member’, enhanced search options and improvements to the congressional committee schedule.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.