Prologue Magazine
Spring 1995, Vol. 27, No. 1

Untapped Resources
Private Claims and Private Legislation in the Records of the U.S. Congress, Indexes
By Charles E. Schamel
© 1995 Charles E. Schamel

Published Indexes to Claims before Congress

A number of published sources exist that facilitate research in the private claims submitted to Congress. Listed below are indexes to the claims presented to both the House and Senate.

House Claims Indexes

1st-31st Congresses (1789-1851)H. Misc. Doc. (unnumbered) 32d Cong., 1st sess. (serial vols. 653-655)
3 vols.
32d-41st Congresses (1851-71)H. Misc. Doc. 109, 42d Congress, 3d sess. (serial Vol. 1574)
526 pp.
42d-46th Congresses (1871-81)H. Misc. Doc. 53., 47th Cong., 1st sess. (serial Vol. 2036)
744 pp.
47th-51st Congresses (1881-91)H. Misc. Doc. 213, 53d Cong., 2d sess. (serial Vol. 3268)
749 pp.
Southern Claims Commission, 1871-80 Consolidated Index of Claims reported by The Commissioners of Claims to the House of Representatives from 1871 to 1880. Compiled under the supervision of J.B. Holloway and Walter H. French (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1892) 262 pp.


Senate Claims Indexes

14th-46th Congresses (1815-81)S. Misc. Doc. 14, 46th Cong., 3d sess. (serial vols. 1945, 1946) 2 vols.
47th-51st Congresses (1881-91)S. Misc. Doc. 266, 53d Cong., 2d sess. (serial Vol. 3175)
3 vols.
52d-55th Congresses (1891-99)S. Doc. 449, 56th Cong., 1st sess. (serial Vol. 3881)
2 vols.
56th-57th Congresses (1899-1903)S. Doc. 221, 57th Cong., 2d sess. (serial Vol. 4433)
197 pp.
58th Congress (1903-5)S. Doc. 3, 59th Congress, 1st sess. (serial Vol. 4917)
709 pp.
59th-61st Congresses (1905-09)S. Doc. 646, 62d Congress, 2d sess. (serial Vol. 6165)
865 pp.

The indexes shown above were published as part of the Congressional Serial Set and list the claims that were introduced on the floor of the House and Senate. They generally provide the name of the claimant, the nature of the claim, committee of referral, Congress and session, number and nature of report, number of bill, disposition in the other House, and date of the act or other remarks. There are no comparable indexes for twentieth-century claims. Several sources exist that may be helpful in locating twentieth-century claims, but none of them have the scope and completeness of the serial set indexes.

One of the modern sources is the CIS U.S. Serial Set Index, 1789-1969 (Bethesda, MD: Congressional Information Service, Inc., 1975). In compiling the index, the Congressional Information Service (CIS) divided the period 1789-1969 into twelve chronological segments. Each segment is indexed by two volumes arranged alphabetically by subject, subtitled "Subject Lists," and by one volume subtitled "Numerical Lists and Schedule of Volumes." The volumes of "Numerical Lists" contain a section called "Private Relief and Related Actions, Index to Names of Individuals and Organizations" that provides citations to published reports and documents. It should be emphasized that the citations are to congressional documents published in the Congressional Serial Set and not to the original petitions or claims documents found among the records of the claims committees. Many claims documents in the records were not published. Also useful to researchers are the published committee calendars of the claims committees (until the committees were abolished in 1946) and the Judiciary Committee. The House Judiciary Committee calendars list all claims legislation referred to the committee separately from other types of bills and resolutions.

Other related information:

Untapped Resources: Private Claims and Private Legislation in the Records of the U.S. Congress

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