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Legal Research for UIUC Students (Non-Law)


Federal Laws Quick Links

Finding a Law by Name

If you know the name of a law, there are several tools available to look up the official citation for the law:

Finding Federal Statutory Law

Federal law is available online through GPO Access:

Type of Law

Public Laws Laws published individually in the order they are passed by Congress                                                   
Statutes at Large Collections of the laws and resolutions passed by each Congress 
United States Code  All the laws of the United States, reorganized and codified by subject 

There are also several databases available through the Library that provide searching within federal statutory law:

Federal Legislative History

Legislative history refers to the progress of a bill through the legislative process, and to the documents that are created during that progress. It is useful to research the legislative history if you are interested in how a particular law was created. Many of these documents are available online through FDSYS:


 Type of Law

History of Bills The History of Bills lists legislative actions on bills that are reported in the Congressional Record.
Congressional Bills GPO Access contains all published versions of bills from the 103rd (1993-1994) Congress forward to the present date.
Congressional Record The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. GPO Access contains Congressional Record volumes from 140 (1994) to the present.
Conference Reports A conference report is an agreement on legislation that is negotiated between the House and Senate via conference committees. It is printed and submitted to each chamber for its consideration, such as approval or disapproval.
Congressional Hearings A hearing is a meeting or session of a Senate, House, Joint, or Special Committee of Congress, usually open to the public, to obtain information and opinions on proposed legislation, conduct an investigation, or evaluate/oversee the activities of a government department or the implementation of a Federal law. GPO Access has selected hearings online*.

*Print Hearing can be found in the library catalog.

There are also several databases available through the Library that provide broader coverage and searching of federal legislative history materials:

Quick Citation Help