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Journal of Congress


JOURNAL OF CONGRESS, the official record of the proceedings of the legislative branch of the U.S. government. When the Continental Congress in 1774 appointed Charles Thomson as secretary, he kept a manuscript journal recording its resolves and other decisions and also the attendance of the members. This journal was published contemporaneously in thirteen volumes. Thomson also kept a secret journal that was not published until 1821. These journals, together with information from auxiliary records and papers, formed the core of the thirty-four-volume Library of Congress edition of the Journals of the Continental Congress, published 1904–1937, to reconstruct the fuller story of the activities of the Congress from 1774 to 1789.

The Constitution provides that "each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings." In the earliest congresses, the journals were printed in parts and distributed during the session. At the end of each session since 1789, verbatim reports have been published with indexes, one or more volumes for each house. After the burning of the Capitol in 1814, which destroyed all printed copies belonging to both houses, the journals of the first thirteen congresses were reprinted (1820–1826). Until 1861 the journals were printed by contract and thereafter by the Government Printing Office under the authority of each house. They are also substantially incorporated in the Annals of Congress (covering 1789–1824), in the Register of Debates (1824–1837), in the Congressional Globe (1833–1873), and in the Congressional Record since 1873. The Senate also keeps an executive journal, which has been published from time to time.


Schmeckebier, L. F., and Roy B. Eastin. Government Publications and Their Use. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institute, 1969.

Roscoe R.Hill/c. w.

See alsoCongressional Record ; Continental Congress ; Washington Burned .

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