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United States Serial Set

Location: Microfiche Cabinets 27-28


The U.S. Serial Set  includes committee reports, journals, manuals, and administrative reports of both Houses in addition to a variety of directories, orations and special publications (such as illustrated descriptions of the Capitol).

Portions of this collection are also available full-text and fully searchable on the Library of Congress American Memory website. The Serial Set from July 1976+ can also be searched at http://catalog.gpo.gov/F/?func=file&file_name=find-csset&local_base=CONSER.

The Congressional Record and its predecessors (Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, Congressional Globe) have never been included.  Texts of bills and resolutions appear only sporadically and then only in the early years of the Serial Set. Committee Hearings are not generally included. Secret sessions of the Congresses are not included.

Historically, the proportion of executive branch material in the set has varied considerably; in some nineteenth-century Congresses it formed over half the set and in recent decades it has been quite small.

There are miscellaneous publications in the Serial Set like studies of wages and prices; immigration; women and child labor; unemployment; national security; conduct of war; and civil rights.  The eleven volume report of the “Exploration and Surveys for the Pacific Railroad”  are in the Serial Set. Also, the three volume report by Matthew Perry on the “Expedition to China Seas and Japan” are there. There are 50,000 maps in the Serial Set. (taken from the CIS U.S. Serial Set Index).

The American State Papers are the first part of the U.S. Serial Set.

How to search the collection

There are two indexes for finding things in the U.S. Serial Set.  They are:


CIS U.S. Serial Set Index

CD-ROM Congressional Masterfile 1


CIS U.S. Serial Set Index (a print index located at Reference Z 1223 Z9 C65 1975 pt. 1) Parts I-XII include a title/name/subject index, an index of persons or organizations cited, a list of titles in report or document number order, and a shelflist of volumes in serial number order. Part XIV indexes the more than 50,000 maps in the Serial Set. This index covers 1789-1969.

1. Select the appropriate year range in the CIS U.S. Serial Set Index that you want to use.

2. Search for the title/name/subject that you want. Write down the citation for the information you need.


Example from CIS U.S. Serial Set Index

Exploration and Surveys for Pacific Railroad  S. exdoc. 78 (33-2) 758


“S. exdoc.” means Senate Executive Document; “78” means the publication number; “(33-2)” means the Congress and Session;
“758” means the serial volume number.

3. Go to Microfiche Cabinet 27-28.  Look for the Congress, Session and Senate/House.

4. Look for the serial volume number (in this example, 758).  There can be several fiche for one serial volume number.

CD-ROM Congressional Masterfile 1  (a computerized index located across from the Reference Desk). You can search by keyword in this index. This index covers from 1789-1969 but you can change the search range (years) if you want to do so.

1. Search for the keyword(s) for your topic.

2. You will get a reference that looks like this:


Example from CD-ROM Congressional Masterfile 1 Index

CIS NO: 758 S. exdoc. 78 (Serial Set)
TITLE: Exploration and Surveys for Pacific Railroad
CONGRESS-SESSION: 33-2            SESSION YEAR(S): 1854, 1855
SERIAL NO: 758                                SESSIONAL VOLUME NO.: 13
PUBLICATION NO.: S. exdoc. 78, 33-2


3. Go to the Microfiche Cabinet 27-28. Look for the Congress and Session. Then look for Senate/House (in this example Senate).

4. Look for the serial volume number (in this example, 758).  There can be several fiche for one serial volume number.

Abbreviations Used in 15th-34th Congresses


S.doc Senate document H. rp. House report
H. doc House document CC. rp. Court of Claims report
S. exdoc Senate executive document
H. exdoc House executive
S. rp. Senate report



CD-ROM-Congressional Masterfile 1 : 1789-1969. Bethesda, Md. : Congressional Information Service, c1990. (located across from the Reference Desk).

CIS US Serial Set Index. Washington : Congressional Information Service, c1975-.(Reference Z1223 Z9 C65 pt. 1 1975).

Johnson, Steven L. Guide to American Indian documents in the Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1899 : a project of the Institute for the Development of Indian Law. New York : Clearwater Pub. Co., c1977. (General Collection KF 8201 A1 J63)

Reference Table of Congresses,  from Harvard University

Schedule of Volumes of the U. S. Congressional Serial Set, from the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D. C.

U. S. Congressional Serial Set Finding List finding list correlating Serial Set volumes to SuDoc numbers – created by Wooster Libraries in Ohio

U. S. Congressional Serial Set Inventory , from Harvard University

An Overview of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C., Inc.

Library Resources for Administrative History: Congressional Serial Set, National Archives and Records Administration

Library of Congress American Memory   Full text of portions of the U.S. Serial Set.

For more information about this subject in our Library Catalog, check out these
Subject Categories:

Government publications -- United States.

Time Period: 19th Century   20th Century  

Subject keywords: Congressional Papers