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Congressional Documents: Comm. Hearings

About

Hearings can be excellent sources of data, policy information and committee members' perspectives.

Hearings are held by congressional committees to gather information on proposed legislation or to conduct oversight, including  "the review, monitoring, and supervision of the implementation of public policy".* Hearings are also held to investigate issues of national importance, such as the Pearl Harbor attack or the Watergate break-in. Senate committees hold confirmation hearings for presidential nominees. (More on types of hearings) Expert witnesses or people who will be affected by the proposed legislation may be called to testify. They may bring along exhibits which may provide information hard to find anywhere else.

While most hearings are published, committees are not required to publish transcripts of hearings. The Committee Chair makes the decision to do so, and decides whether the hearing will be published in paper or digitally or both. Publication can happen quickly, be delayed for months, or never occur. Bowdoin has most published hearings in paper from 2003 to 2010 and scattered hearings from other time periods. Otherwise, Bowdoin Library provides access to hearings only in digital format.

Some committees, especially in the House, issue a Hearing Memorandum, which often contain a statement of the purpose of the hearing, witnesses, background information, and a short bibliography. Look for these from 2004-2011 in ProQuest Congressional in the Committee Prints & Misc. Publications database.

Google Books has digitized many hearings from the twentieth century. If you know the title of the hearing, search Google Books with keywords in that title.  Or try the phrase "hearing before the committee" with a subject word and limit to  "full view only." HathiTrust and the Internet Archive are other sources for historical hearings.

* Congressional Research Service, Types of Committee Hearings, 2015.

 


Oliver North, Iran Contra Hearings, 1987
Courtesy of Council on Foreign Relations

Example of a Hearing, 1993

Committee Hearings

Hearings

Congress

Years

Format

Location

Notes

1st- 1789-
(coverage scattered in the earlier years)
online HathiTrust Best Bet Start here if looking for online fulltext 1789-1823.
18th cong., 2nd sess.-117th cong., 1st sess.

1824-2021

online ProQuest Congressional Best Bet Start here if looking for online fulltext 1824-2021.
New: Congressional Hearing Print Request. Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff may request that a hearing be printed, bound, and delivered to your campus address in 2-4 days.
51st-111th 1890-2010
(with gaps)
paper

Govt. Doc Y4.

Use ProQuest Congressional for text online or use it as an index to get SuDocs number of the print hearing.
New: Congressional Hearing Print Request. Bowdoin students, faculty, and staff may request that a hearing be printed, bound, and delivered to your campus address in 2-4 days.

56th-95th

1900-1978
(scattered coverage)

online HeinOnline 

96th-

1979-
(stronger coverage)

95th-109th 1977-2006
(Appropriations Committee only)
microfiche Govt. Microfiche Y4.Ap: Use ProQuest Congressional for text online or use it as an index to get SuDocs number of the hearing in microfiche.

99th-105th

1985-1998
(scattered coverage)

online search or browse Congressional Hearings in govinfo Best Bet Start here if looking for online fulltext beginning in 2011 that is freely available.

106th-

1999-
(stronger coverage)

108th cong., 2nd sess.- 2004- online ProQuest Congressional Selected testimony transcripts and submitted statements only.
varies varies online U.S. House of Representatives Committee Repository;
House Committees;
Senate Committees;
C-SPAN
May provide access to selected full content of hearings or only to the prepared statements of witnesses.
varies varies online NexisUni Search under "News". Not comprehensive, but has hearings transcripts not easily found elsewhere.
varies varies online U.S. Congressional Serial Set;
Internet Archive;
Google Books
None of these databases is comprehensive but they may have hearings not found elsewhere.

Congress

Years

Format

Location

Notes

 

Hearings - Video Recordings

Congress

Years

Format

Location

Notes

  mid-1980s- video C-SPAN  

 

Indexes to Hearings

Congress

Years

Format

Location

Notes

18th cong., 2nd sess.- 1824- online ProQuest Congressional  
53rd-95th 1895-1977 print Monthly Catalog of U.S. Govt. Publications, Govt. Doc GP 3.8:  
94th- 1976- online Catalog of U.S. Government Publications  

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