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What is a Public Law?
Public laws have general applicability nationwide. Private laws apply to individuals, for example immigration and naturalization.
After the President signs a bill, the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) assigns it a law number, and prepares it for publication as a "slip law."
At the end of each session of Congress, the OFR compiles the slip laws into bound volumes called the Statutes at Large. The Statutes at Large contains session laws in the order in which they were enacted.
Before 1957, Congress used Chapter numbers instead of Public Law Numbers to designate session laws.
There are a number of sources that contain Public Laws and Statutes at Large.
Public and Private Laws at GovInfo
Public and private laws are also known as slip laws. A slip law is an official publication of the law and is competent evidence admissible in all state and Federal courts and tribunals of the United States. Public laws affect society as a whole, while private laws affect an individual, family, or small group.
Congress.gov - Browse Public Laws
Legislative information from the Library of Congress.
Format: Text and PDF
Coverage: 93rd Congress to present
American Memory - A Century of Lawmaking
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875.
HeinOnline - U. S. Statutes at Large
Coverage: Includes complete coverage of the Statutes at Large, and features multiple browsing and searching options to enhance the online value over the paper volumes.
Provides abstracts and some full-text of bills, Committee reports, prepared testimony from hearings, and public laws, as well as legislative histories. Check out Proquest Congressionals libguides: http://proquest.libguides.com/
Statutes at Large
Print copies at Law Library, 1798-Present