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Congressional Debates

About Congressional debates:
The debates are the record of the speeches and debates that occurred on the floor of the House or the Senate. Printed reports, mainly from stenographic records, of debates and proceedings in both houses of Congress are in existence from the beginning of government March 4, 1789. These reports have had several different titles, and appear in four series: Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States (1789-1824), Register of Debates in Congress (1824-1837), Congressional Globe (1834-1873), and the Congressional Record (1873-present).

Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States
J11.A5 Main (non-circulating)
Also known as the Annals of Congress, the Debates and Proceedings, cover the 1st Congress through the Eighteenth Congress 1st Session. The Annals were compiled between 1834 and 1856, using the best records available, primarily newspaper accounts. Speeches are paraphrased rather than given verbatim.

Register of Debates in Congress
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The Register of Debates was published contemporaneously, however, like the Debates and Proceedings, it is not a verbatim account, but is a compilation of summaries of the debates. Members of Congress were invited by the publisher to edit their speeches before the Register was printed.

Congressional Globe
J11 D5 Main (non-circulating)
By the mid-19th century the Congressional Globe was a more verbatim account of Congressional debates because of improvements in shorthand and the willingness of Congress to pay the salaries of official floor reports, and to purchase copies of the reports.

United States. Congress. Congressional record : proceedings and debates of the ... Congress. 1873- .
J11 R5 Main (non-circulating), Unbound in GREF,
Members are permitted to insert speeches into the Congressional Record that were not delivered on the floor, and members have been known to submit speeches ahead of time. Members also have the right to revise and edit their remarks before they are published.

The daily Congressional Record has four sections:

  • the proceedings of the House
  • the proceedings of the Senate
  • the Extensions of Remarks: undelivered text that members ask to have apended to the record
  • the Daily Digest: summary of daily activites, record of commitee and floor proceedings (e.g., action on bills, votes, hearings, meetings, and bill status)

Each section is paginated continuously during a session, and has a letter prefix (bold letters, above).

The pagination in the permanent bound edition of the Congressional Record is different than the daily edition found online (sources below) and in print.

GPO Access

Lexis/Nexis Congressional: Publications Database (1985-present) UC only.


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