U.S. Serial Set: Types of Publications
Related Topics:
U.S. Serial Set: Overview
U.S. Serial Set: Organization
U.S. Serial Set: Printing and Distribution

Congressional Publications

Executive Branch Publications

Miscellaneous Publications

Congressional Publications

The congressional material in the Serial Set includes the committee reports, journals, manuals, and administrative reports of both Chambers in addition to a variety of directories, orations, and special publications (such as illustrated descriptions of the Capitol). Unfortunately, not all these categories appear consistently in the set.

Committee reports on proposed public and private legislation are among the most important of the Serial Set's congressional publications and have always been part of the set. The journals of proceedings of both Houses appeared from the beginning but have been excluded from the set since 1953, while Senate and House manuals did not appear in it until 1896, but are still included. The Congressional Directory was privately printed and distributed until 1865, and was not given serial numbering until 1882. Orations and eulogies have always appeared, but recently, addresses on deceased Members of Congress have been printed for distribution outside the Serial Set scheme.

Administrative reports of the Secretary of the Senate have always been provided with serial numbering, while in the last 30 years the reports of the Clerk of the House of Representatives sometimes have not. The Congressional Record and its predecessors (Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, Congressional Globe) have never been included. Texts of bills and resolutions are included in Serial Set publications sporadically and on an inconsistent basis.

As a rule, committee hearings and prints have been considered committee rather than congressional publications and have consequently been excluded. Occasionally, however, hearings are printed as or included in Serial Set publications.

The Senate frequently sat in secret session in early Congresses and proceedings and other records of such sessions (executive journals, executive documents, and executive reports) were not included in the set except by special order. These types of executive publications should not be confused with executive branch publications that did appear in the Serial Set with great frequency, especially in the earlier years.

Executive Branch Publications

Historically, the Serial Set has included a broad miscellany of executive branch publications. Apart from Presidential messages, which have regularly been included, some of these documents appear because Congress orders a department or agency to report to it on a regular basis, and some appear because Members want a supply of reports on particular topics for their own use and for distribution to the public.

Congressional policy for the inclusion of executive branch publications has not been entirely systematic or consistent. Until the establishment of the Government Printing Office in 1860, for example, identical executive branch reports sometimes appeared as both House and Senate publications. Even after that, and until about 1920, Congress sometimes requested reports from subordinate bureaus or agencies that duplicated material found in the reports of their parent departments.

Historically, the proportion of executive material in the set has varied considerably; in some 19th-century Congresses it formed over half the set, but in recent decades it has been quite small. Executive branch publications appearing in the set include:

In addition to administrative reports, which often also contain a wealth of non-administrative information, some of the set's more valuable and complete serialized executive publications are:

In addition to congressional and executive branch publications, the Serial Set includes a number of reports from nongovernmental organizations that are organized under laws requiring such reports. The American Historical Association, Boy Scouts of America, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and various veterans organizations are in this category.

Miscellaneous Publications

Other important collections within the set defy classification by origin. These include a number of volumes containing unusual historical data, as well as:  hearings; reports; exhibits of congressional and executive branch commissions; and investigations and inquiries, such as studies of wages and prices, immigration, woman and child labor, unemployment, national security, conduct of war, and civil rights. The "Final Report and Testimony of Industrial Relations Commission", classified as a Senate document, is an 11-volume set of reports, exhibits, and testimony on the "general condition of labor in the principal industries of the U.S. . . . and the underlying causes of dissatisfaction in the industrial situation". The volumes contain almost 11,000 pages of testimony from hundreds of witnesses, including Samuel Gompers, Frederick W. Taylor, Louis Brandeis, Clarence Darrow, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Sr., J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, and Andrew Carnegie. A reprint of the British "Political and Economic Report of the Committee To Collect Information on Russia", also classified as a Senate Document, is a 1920 analysis of the situation in Russia after three years of Communist rule.