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New Library Resource Offers Digital Access to Congressional Hearings Back to 1824

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Tom Urell
t.urell [at]
(617) 373-2821
Research and Instruction

With the recent purchase of the ProQuest retrospective full-text digital collection of congressional hearings from 1824-2003, Northeastern University now offers access to an unparalleled documentary record of events and public policy issues faced by the United States over the years. The acquisition of the ProQuest Congressional Hearings Digital Collection has been funded with the support of the Northeastern University Office of the Provost. Access to the digital hearings from 2004 onwards is provided to the campus by the Northeastern University Law Library.

This collection gives researchers access to both published and unpublished hearings, presenting primary accounts of policy-making and events, as well as the objectives and actions of congress in dealing with these events and issues. The hearings contain the full transcripts of the proceedings, including all oral statements, committee questions and discussion. Published hearings also contain texts of related reports, statistical analyses, correspondence, exhibits, and articles presented by witnesses or inserted into the record by Members of Congress and committee staff.

Home to a selective Federal depository library, Northeastern has in the past collected a substantial number of congressional hearings in print. This new online collection greatly expands the functionality and usefulness of these materials for research and provides 24/7 access, full-text keyword searching and relevancy ranking across all of the hearings. Searches can be conducted for witness names and affiliations, subject terms, committee names, legislative numbers, and various titles of the hearings and supplementary materials.

Congressional hearings are valuable primary source materials for researchers across the curriculum in all discipline areas, from history to science to sports. The study of historical events through the context of congressional hearings and witness testimonies, allow students and researchers to relive history and nomination hearings, bringing to light little-known information about the public figures of our past. As Ballard C. Campbell, Northeastern Professor of History and Public Policy, states, “The acquisition of ProQuest’s digital collection of congressional hearings is an invaluable addition to Snell Library. Virtually every major political event in the United States since the mid-nineteenth century occasioned a congressional hearing. From theCivil War to 9/11, these interrogations generated some of the most dramatic and memorable testimonies in American history. The complete transcriptions of hearings, some not previously published, and finding aids, illuminate innumerable dimensions of public policy and society, past and present.”

Amira Aaron, Associate Dean of Libraries for Scholarly Resources, adds, “The Library is grateful for the support of the Provost and very pleased to be able to offer such an important interdisciplinary resource to our campus community. This acquisition complements and enhances our existing congressional collections which include the U.S. Congressional Serial Set database, the U.S. congressional document collection in HeinOnline, and congressional materials available through the Government Printing Office.”

Access to the ProQuest Congressional Hearings Digital Collection can be found on the Library's online database listing and on the Library’s Federal Government Research Guide. For questions about the collection, please contact Roxanne Palmatier, Government Documents Coordinator, r.palmatier [at] or 617-373-4968.


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