Sunday, September 7, 2014

United States Serial Set and the American State Papers

The United States Serial Set, which is also known as the United States Congressional Serial Set, has been in publication since 1817, the year of the 15th U.S. Congress. The Library of Congress states that “The Serial Set contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports … from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation [and] all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate,” all bound together in single volumes by year. For a period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Serial Set also included Executive documents (those from the Executive branch of the U.S. Government). The predecessor to the Serial Set, the American State Papers, contains similar documents from Congress from 1787 to 1838, thus overlapping the Serial Set by several decades.
Federal depositories, such as the State Library of Ohio, and some selective depositories, provide access to the Serial Set in a variety of formats: print, microfilm, and online. To access online versions via the State Library, users must authenticate using their library card. Select years have been digitized and can be found at the United States Government Printing Office (GPO), as well as via LexisNexis, although this source requires a subscription. Google Books is also digitizing the Serial Set for online access. Print distribution of the Serial Set has been limited since the 105th Congress (1997-1998), but despite this loss of access to print versions, this still leaves nearly 200 years worth of print volumes available for research.

With the documents included in the Serial Set, as well as in the American State Papers, students of political science can learn about important topics of the day. They can learn about the changing political climate as well as about culture and social issues, both of which strongly influence politics. They can learn about important political figures, and they can follow the progress of political actions.

For online access to the U.S. Serial Set and the American State Papers go to:

Bowling Green University and the State Library of Ohio both maintain lists of Federal repositories in the state; these lists will direct users to institutions which include print versions of the Serial Set in their collections.

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