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Federal Legislative History

Research guide about resources and strategies for researching federal legislative history.

Presidential Messages

When legislation originates from the White House, it is frequently accompanied by an explanation of its purpose or rationale. When legislation is signed into law or vetoed by the President, an explanatory message or speech may be presented. Presidential messages are compiled and presented in several places.

To Locate Presidential Messages Online

GovInfo provides access to the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents from 1992 forward. This publication is the predecessor of the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents and the most comprehensive collection of presidential messages available.

GovInfo also contains the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, which serves as the edited version of the Weekly Compilation. Public papers of presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have been converted and posted for searching.

HeinOnline's U.S. Presidential Library includes the Daily and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, the Public Papers of the Presidents and numerous other presidential documents. Available from all campus computers and off-site with Onyen and password verification.

LexisNexis provides the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States from March 24, 1979 forward (authorized users only).

Westlaw offers access to the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents from 2000 to present (authorized users only). 

Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents1789-1914. Ten volume set.

To Locate Presidential Messages in Print

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (J80 .A283). These print volumes are available for presidents Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama (2009 only).

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (J80 .A284). The Law Library has bound volumes for 1965-1995 and microfiche from 1992-2008.