October 22, 2019 Library of Congress and U.S. Government Publishing Office Digitizing U.S. Congressional Serial Set

Press Contact: Brett Zongker (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Donna Sokol (202) 707-8929

The Law Library of Congress, in collaboration with the U.S. Government Publishing Office, has started a large multi-year effort to digitize and make accessible volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set dating back to the first volume published in 1817.

The U.S. Congressional Serial Set is an official, bound collection of reports and documents of the House and Senate of the U.S. Congress. First published in 1817 during the 15th Congress, the Serial Set is a compilation of all numbered House and Senate reports and documents, including executive reports and treaty documents, issued for each session of Congress. The term “Serial Set” derives from the fact that the volumes have been numbered consecutively beginning with the volumes of the 15th Congress.

There are approximately 15,735 volumes and approximately 12 million pages in the collection. 

Some interesting information the public can expect to find in the Serial Set includes:

  • Maps and reports of explorations of the West;
  • A resolution to pass the 14th Amendment;
  • The transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States;
  • Reports of explorations and surveys for the Pacific Railroad;
  • Documentary history of the United States Capitol building and grounds;
  • Compilation of the messages and papers of the presidents from 1789 to 1897, including Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln;
  • Annual Reports of the Boy Scouts of America, dating back to 1924; and
  • Smithsonian Institution reports.

“The U.S. Congressional Serial Set documents the history of the United States of America. We are very pleased to partner with GPO in order to make these key historical government publications searchable and freely available to the public,” said Deputy Librarian for Library Collections and Services and Law Librarian of Congress Jane Sánchez. “The Library's collection is so vast and impressive, but it is not enough to collect and preserve. To be successful, collections must be used, and this collaboration signifies our resolve to do that.”

The Law Library of Congress will inventory and digitize the Serial Set. The Government Publishing Office will catalog each Serial Set document and authenticate the digital files. 

“GPO is honored to partner with the Law Library of Congress on this massive effort toward digitizing the entire Serial Set,” said GPO Acting Deputy Director John Crawford. “Through this digitization, members of the public will be able to digitally access comprehensive and detailed information on a wide range of subjects useful for genealogical and biographical research. Of course print versions of these historic publications are available in Federal Depository Libraries across the country.”

The Library of Congress will display the Serial Set in phases for free public access on the Library of Congress website, loc.gov. GPO will upload volumes of the Serial Set in phases for free public access on govinfo.gov, the agency’s site for authentic, published government information.

The entire effort is expected to take at least a decade to complete.

About the U.S. Government Publishing Office
GPO is the federal government's official, digital, secure resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. government. The GPO is responsible for the production and distribution of information products and services for all three branches of the federal government, including U.S. passports for the Department of State as well as the official publications of Congress, the White House, and other federal agencies in digital and print formats. GPO provides for permanent public access to federal government information at no charge through www.govinfo.gov, partnerships with approximately 1,150 libraries nationwide participating in the Federal Depository Library Program, and our secure online bookstore. For more information, please visit gpo.gov.

About the Law Library of Congress
The Law Library of Congress was founded in 1832 with the mission to make its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. government and the global legal community, and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 2.9 million volumes, the Law Library contains the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at law.gov.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.


PR 19-104
ISSN 0731-3527