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Government Information Connection: History Portal

Resources in the Government Documents Department for History students. Includes resources in all formats.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set

The United States Congressional Serial Set or "Serial Set" contains key publications of the United States Congress. The set also includes publications of the executive departments relating to important public issues.  The Serial Set is a critical resource for the study of all aspects of American history including international relations, explorations, commerce and industrial development, genealogy, and political, social, cultural, military and ethnic history. There are over 14,000 volumes covering the history of the United States.

UNT offers electronic access to the Serial Set through the following databases. The Government Information Connection at the Sycamore Library houses a number of physical volumes as well as a number of indexes to the set. To locate print materials search the UNT Libraries catalog, " Books and More" with the keyword "congressional serial set." For the best results, limit your search using Government Documents under Collections.

Searching the United States Congressional Serial Set

How to search the Serial Set on Proquest Congressional:

Sample topic:

Let's say our research topic is the tensions between black soldiers and white citizens in 1906 Brownsville, Texas. When a white bartender was killed and a police officer was wounded by gunshot, townspeople accused the members of the 25th Infantry Regiment of killing the officer.

We know through secondary sources that, based on an investigation done by Congress, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the dishonorable discharge of 167 soldiers. This cost the soldiers' pensions and prevented them from serving in civil service jobs. We also know that a renewed investigation in the early 1970s exonerated the discharged black troops. The government later pardoned the soldiers and restored their records to show honorable discharges but did not provide retroactive compensation.

For the purposes of this example, our research question revolves around looking at the original 1906 investigation. 

How do we start?

Open Proquest Congressional.

Click on Advanced Search.

Enter Brownsville, Texas into the search box.  We don't know what the best term would be, so we are going to be as general as we can.  Geographies are great starting points in historical research.

At Limit To, click Deselect All and then only select the Serial Set 1789-1969.

Change the drop-down for All Available Dates to Date is Between.  Since we know the incident happened in 1906, we should enter Jan 1, 1906 and since it is always good to go at least another year past the year we are interested in (congress can be slow), Dec 31, 1907 will be our closing date.

Click Search

Look at the results.  You will notice that most may match your topic, but there are a few items that seem to be parts of a larger set (pts 3 and 4). 

Vocabulary problem:

One of the issues you may run into when researching is not knowing the language of the time in which you are doing the research.  Since this database is searching full text, you may need to experiment a little to get the language correct. 

Brownsville Affray is what Congress called this incident, which you can see in the results.  You can click on Modify Search and enter that term to see the full set of documents that were produced in Congress’ investigation.

Proquest Congressional is a powerful database that indexes many other areas of Congress’ work. 

This database is essential to your research!

If you need help, please contact or visit the Government Documents department in the Sycamore Library.


Source: Jesse Silva, former department head, now at the University of California at Berkeley's Government Information department.

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