Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)

Library Resources for Administrative History: United States Laws and Treaties


In the study of an agency an archivist will often have to consult the published documents, particularly those relating to its statutory establishment and organization. Each law passed by Congress is printed separately and in collections authorized by Congress. The collections comprise a chronological arrangement of all laws passed from the first Congress, a codification of the permanent and general laws in force at a given time, and compilations of laws bearing on a specific subject.

Current

Slip Laws. Washington: Government Printing Office.
REF AE 2.110:(nos.) (Shelved with the Statutes)
For 1995 to date, see also GPO Access.

Note: Cited as Slip Law. A pamphlet print of each public and private law enacted by Congress, issued a few days after a bill becomes law; public (but not private) slip laws carry the Statutes page numbers that will be their permanent citation in a future United States Statutes at Large volume, marginal notes and citations (including United States Code classifications of current legislation), and a guide to legislative history (which also contains dates of related Presidential statements); text of both public and private laws with annotations are later cumulated and bound as part of the Statutes volume. Slip laws are accepted as authoritative by the Courts until the permanent collections of the laws appear.
Boyd, p. 83-84; Morehead, p. 131-132; Schmeckebier, p. 173, 208- 210; 1909 Checklist, p. 954-967.

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1789-to date

The United States Statutes at Large, Containing the Laws and Concurrent Resolutions, Proclamations, Treaties and International Agreements, and Reorganization Plans [titles vary]. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1789-to date; Volume 1-.
REF AE 2. 111: (volume)/GS 4. 111: (volume)/S 7.9:(volume)
For 2003 to date, see also GPO Access.
Note: Cited as Stat. United States Statutes at Large contains all public and private laws and concurrent resolutions enacted during a session of Congress, plus reorganization plans, proposed and ratified amendments to the Constitution, and proclamations by the President, with finding aids including legislative history, subject index, and Laws Affected Tables; arrangement is chronological by approval date in each category; by law, these volumes are "legal evidence" (1 U.S.C. 112); only the general and permanent laws are codified (arranged by subject in titles) in the United States Code.
The first 17 volumes, 1789-1873, were published by contract with the Government [Boston, Little, Brown, 1845-1873]. From 1873-1949 the Statutes were issued by the State Department, continuing the volume numbering of the Little, Brown edition. This new edition began where the Little, Brown edition left off, and the first volume of the Statutes at Large issued was volume 18, part 3, containing the legislation of the 43d Congress. Part 3 attached to volume 18 has been a stumbling block, because parts I and 2 have no part numbers, nor even volume numbers, nor even the title Statutes at Large on their title pages. There is nothing whatever in the books themselves to connect them with volume 18, part 3 of the Statutes at Large. Part 1 is the first edition of the third volume of the Revised Statutes. Part 2 contains three distinct collections, separately titled, paged, and indexed, namely: Revised statutes relating to the District of Columbia; Revised statutes relating to post roads, and Public treaties of the United States in force December 1, 1873. Until 1938 the Statutes were published biennially, each volume covering one Congress; since 1938 each volume has covered a single year.
Since 1949 the Statutes have been issued by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration.
Boyd, p. 83-84; Morehead. p. 132; Schmeckebier, p. 211-216; 1909 Checklist, p. 965-968.

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1878

Revised Statutes Passed at the 1st Session of 43d Congress, 1873- 1874, Embracing Statutes, General and Permanent in Nature, in Force December 1, 1873...with Appendix. 2d ed. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1878. 1394 p.
REF .S 7.10:volumes 1-3. (Shelved following Vol. 18 of the Statutes at Large, Room 3000 Archives II.)
Note: Cited as Rev. Stat. Need for a codification of the laws, excluding private and obsolete enactments and including the whole body of permanent general law of the United States in one volume, led to the compilation and publication in 1877 of the first edition of the Revised Statutes which formed part one of volume 18 of the Statutes at Large. A corrected second edition was issued in 1878. Supplements were published in 1891 and 1901, but are now superseded by the United States Code.
Boyd, p. 85; Schmeckebier, p. 216-218; 1909 Checklist, p. 968-970.

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1988

United States Code. 1988 ed. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1990. 28 volumes.
REF Y I. 215:988\volumes 1-28
See also GPO Access.
Note: Cited as U.S.C. The second codification of the laws, commonly known as the United States Code was first published in 1926. The Code is codified and published every six years. It has annual cumulative supplements. Only the general and permanent laws of the United States are codified (arranged by subject in titles) in the United States Code. Temporary, local, or private laws are not included in the codification. The Code establishes "prima facie the laws of the United States" except "whenever titles of such Code shall have been enacted into positive law the text thereof shall be legal evidence" (1 U.S.C. 204(a); to date, 20 titles and subtitle IV of Title 49 have been enacted into positive law. The Code contains list of Acts by Popular Name, index and tables.
Boyd, p. 85-86; Morehead p. 110, 132; Schmeckebier, p. 218-220.

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Annual

United States Code Supplements, 19xx. 1988 ed. Washington: Government Printing Office; 199x, __volumes.
REF Y 1. 215:9881(supp. nos. \volume)
Note: Cited as U.S.C. Supplement (year). Annual, cumulative supplements to the United States Code. Contains all changes in or additions to the general and permanent laws and Code ancillaries since the last edition of the Code.
Boyd, p. 85-86, Morehead, p. 110, 132; Schmeckebier, p. 218-220.

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1956-1976

Laws Affected Tables. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1956-1976.
[REF GS 4.111:(volume)]
Published in each Statutes volume, from 1956 through 1976, showing the prior laws affected by the public laws in each volume; after 1976 Statutes volume, the Tables were discontinued.

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1789-1873, 1873-1907

Scott, George Winfield; Beaman, Middleton G. Index Analysis of the Federal Statutes (general and permanent law). Library of Congress. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1911, 1.908.
REF LC 10.5:volume 0-1 (Shelved with the Statutes)
Note: Commonly known as Scott and Beaman’s Index-analysis. The volume covering 1789-1873 was prepared by M. G. Beaman, A. K. McNamara and others. Each volume contains a table of repeals and amendments, and the one for 1789-1873 contains a list of laws by popular name. The numbering of these volumes is peculiar, due to the fact that volume I covering years 1873-1907 by G. W. Scott and M. G. Beaman was prepared first and was intended to be followed by a second volume including an index to statutes of temporary, local and personal character. The demand and need for an index to laws before 1873 changed the plan, and instead a general index covering the years 1789-1873 was prepared. As volume 1 had already been assigned to the first index made, it is customary to call this latter publication volume 0 in order that it precede volume I on the shelf. It actually bears no volume number. Useful for tracing early legislation.
Boyd, p. 86; Schrneckebier, p. 222-223; 1909 Checklist. p. 645.

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1874-1931

McClenon, W. H.; Gilbert, W. C. Index to the Federal Statutes, 1874-1931, General and Permanent Law Contained in Revised Statutes of 1874 and Volumes 1846 of Statutes at Large, Revision of Scott and Beaman Index Analysis of Federal Statutes. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1933. 1432 p.
REF LC 14.2:F 31 (Shelved with the Statutes)
In addition to the index proper there are lists of statutory definitions, treaties, conventions, etc.; official or popular names of statutes; treaties and proclamations; tables of references to United States Code; tables of repeals and amendments of statutory provisions indexed. It also contains numerous footnotes giving laws and treaties on matters of popular interest. Useful for tracing early legislation.
Boyd, p. 86-87; Schmeckebier. p. 223-226.

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1783-1985

Shepard’s Acts and Cases by popular names: Federal and State; 1986. 3d ed. Colorado Springs, CO: Shepard's\McGraw-Hill; 1986. 2 volumes.
REF KF. 96. S52.1986. pt. I and 2 (Shelved with the Statutes)
Note: Cited as Shepard’s popular names. An alphabetical compilation of popular names by which federal and state acts and cases have been referred to or cited together with an identification of each act in terms of its constitutional or statutory references and each case in terms of the volume and page reference where the text of the decision may be found, to November 1985. Entries cite the 1982 United States Code. Where a reference to the United States Statutes at Large or a state session law appears alone, it may be presumed that the act is not included in the United States Code or in the specific state code. Popular names by which provisions of the United States Constitution and individual state constitutions have been referred to are also indicated. Part 1: Acts A-M; Part 2: Acts N- Z, Cases A-Z.

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Daily

United States. Congress. House of Representatives. Calendar of the United States House of Representatives and History of Legislation. Washington: Government Printing Office. Daily.
REF Y 1.2~2:(date)
For 1995 to date, see also GPO Access.
Note: Cited as House Calendar. The Calendar is very useful for following day-to day progress of legislation through both Houses of Congress; index, usually on Mondays; final edition covers the session and a cumulated final edition at the end of the Congress. It includes lists of bills in and through conference, the various calendars of business, and a numerical list of bills and resolutions of both House and Senate with their legislative history.
Boyd, p. 68; Morehead, p. 138-141; Schmeckebier, p. 1 76, 1 78-1 79.

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1950-to date

United States. Department of State. United States Treaties and Other International Agreements. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1950-to date; v. 1-.
REF S 9. 12:(volume)
Note: Cited as U.S.T. Treaties are compiled annually by the Department of State; until 1950 treaties were published in the Statutes at Large.
Morehead, p. 162-163, 167, 168; Schmeckebier, p. 213, 354-355.

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