Frequently Asked Questions about Federal Documents

Q: Some of your documents start with p.d. What is this and how can I find it in your library?

A: Our federal documents collection prior to 1966 uses the location collection designation “p.d.” which is the abbreviation for public document. Public document (p.d.) is above the Dewey classification call number. You can search our p.d. card catalog on the 2nd floor of the library to find items before 1966. Staff is retrospectively cataloging the items in the p.d. card catalog into our online catalog, so eventually they will all be found in our online catalog. Items received after 1966 are in SuDoc classification and are available in the online catalog.

Q: How are the rest of your documents numbered/classified?

A: Federal documents, 1966 to current, use the Superintendent of Documents Classification System (SuDoc). The SuDoc classification system is organized according to the agency that issued the publication. The current SuDoc stem can be found here.

Q: What documents can I find in the Serial Set and how do I find them?

A: The following items can be found in the serial set: House and Senate Reports, House and Senate Documents, Senate Executive Reports, Senate Executive Documents, and Senate Treaty Documents. In order to find these items, you need to know the volume or serial number, and congressional session (i.e. 92nd Congress, first session). The serial set can be found in the ISL federal documents collection (pre 1966: p.d. 328; 1966 to current: Y1.1/2; Y4: 1965-1980 serial set numbers 12662-1, 89th Congress 1st session to 13384, 96th Congress 2nd session. The library also has available on microfiche for the 1st to 57th Congress.

Q: I cant find documents before the 15th Congress in the Serial Set? Why?

A: The Serial Set began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session in 1817. Documents before 1817 are found in the American State Papers. American State Papers, 1789-1838, are available online and on microfiche for the 1st to 17th Congress. The American State Papers can be found in the ISL federal documents collection (p.d. 327 Un58 v. 1-12).

Q: What can I find in the Federal Register?

A: The Federal Register began on March 14, 1936. The Federal Register is the official daily publication for Presidential documents and executive agency rule and notice documents. Documents include: exclusive orders and proclamations, documents of general applicability and legal effect, documents that impose a penalty, and any other documents that Congress requires. The Federal Register can be found at the Indiana State Library in the federal documents collection (pre 1966: p.d. 345 Un58 f; 1966 to current: AE 2. 106 – these can also be found on microfiche v. 1, 1936 to present). The Federal Register, 1994 to current, is available online.

Q: What is the Code of Federal Regulations, or the CFR?

A: The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains agency rules that first appeared in the Federal Register. On the effective date of rule, the Office of the Federal Register publishes the Code of Federal Regulations editors incorporate the amendments from the rule into the CFR. Codifying (arranging) the rules does not change their meaning or legal effect, it merely creates an organizational structure for the rules and allows readers to see the complete text of an effective rule without having to refer back to various issues of the Federal Register. The CFR can be found at the Indiana State Library in the federal documents collection (AE 2. 106/3; fiche: 1967-2012). The CFR, 1996 to current, is available online. You can view current, undated versions at e-CFR.

Q: What is the Congressional Record?

A: The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It is published daily when Congress is in session. Information about Congress and what years are associated with a particular Congress can be found here. The Congressional Record can be found at the Indiana State Library in the federal documents collection (pre 1966: p.d. 328cr; 1966 to current: X1.1/A). The Congressional Record for Congresses 104 to 114 is available online.

Q: What is the Congressional Globe?

A: The Congressional Globe, or Globe, contains the congressional debates of the 23rd to 42nd Congresses (1833-1873). There are approximately 46 volumes in the series. Initially the Globe contained a condensed report, or abstract rather than a verbatim report of the debates and proceedings. With the 32nd Congress, the Globe began to provide something approaching verbatim transcription. The Congressional Globe can be found at the Indiana State Library in the federal documents collection (pre-1966: p.d. 328cg v. 1-46).

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