ALR Student’s Corner: THOMAS


Who is THOMAS? 

THOMAS is the Library of Congress’s website and is a source for free federal legislative information.  The site was launched in January, 1995 and offers many sources of searchable information including:

  • Bills and Resolutions –search the text of legislation by word/phrase or bill number (1989 – current Congress); review roll call votes from the House or Senate; browse legislation by sponsor; review the bill summary and status for each bill that has become public law (1973 – current Congress);
  • Activity in Congress – “Yesterday in Congress” provides a list of floor activity for the previous legislative day; “House Floor Now” list floor actions for that day in reverse chronological order, updated at 15-minute intervals.
  • Congressional Record – contains a summary of the day’s activities in both chambers of Congress, called The Daily Digest.  The Congressional Record can be searched by word/phrase and is indexed which is also searchable by keyword.  The Congressional Records is updated daily.
  • The U.S. Code is available on THOMAS and can be searched or downloaded.
  • Search Committee Reports, Presidential Nominations, and Treaties.
  • THOMAS also contains a list of other government resources as well as learning resources about the legislative process, classroom activities, lesson plans, and guides to congressional information for teachers.
  • The Library of Congress has recently added updates from the library’s Twitter feed on to the homepage. 

 An Example of THOMAS’ Power

 THOMAS can provide invaluable information about the representatives in each state.  For instance, if you live inNorth Carolinaand want to see what bills have been sponsored by Senator Kay Hagan you can do so from the home page of THOMAS.  Use the “Select a Senator” dropdown under “Browse Bills by Sponsor” and click on “Go.”  Your search results will open and you can review all of the bills that have been sponsored by Kay Hagan, the last major action relating to the bill, its current status, the cosponsors, and if you click on the link to the bill you can read it in its entirety.

Understanding new legislation is critical.  While it is true that senators may have their own websites that outline the bills they support, having all of this information in one place allows for comparison and in-depth analysis that The Library of Congress keeps up-to-date and offers for free. 

Don’t miss out on this great resource!

~Mandy Schuller, L’13~

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Filed under Advanced Legal Research, electronic resources, Student Postings

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