Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Congressional Globe and other U.S. Congressional Documents
Congressional Globe Home Page: U.S. Congressional Documents: "The Globe, as it is usually called, contains the congressional debates of the 23rd through 42nd Congresses (1833-73) . . . The Globe is the third of the four series of publications containing the debates of Congress. It was preceded by the Annals of Congress and the Register of Debates and succeeded by the Congressional Record . . . Initially the Globe contained a 'condensed report' or abstract rather than a verbatim report of the debates and proceedings. With the 32nd Congress (1851), however, the Globe began to provide something approaching verbatim transcription . . . The contents of the appendix of each volume vary from Congress to Congress, but appendixes typically contain presidential messages, reports of the heads of departments and cabinet officers, texts of laws, and appropriations."
This is an enormously useful set of resources, with the full text of these important congressional records. The northwest was much on the mind of 19th- and 20th-century legislators. Some quick searches for northwest topics produce this Bill To provide for suppressing Indian hostilities in the territory of Oregon (passed in the wake of the killing of the Whitmans); An Act For the relief of Mrs. Mary Harris, of Oregon (to pay her money owed for "supplies furnished and services rendered in the Oregon Indian War of eighteen hundred and fifty-six"); and "The petition of five hundred and fifteen citizens of Washington Territory, for aid to the Seattle and Walla-Walla Railroad."
This resource opens up new avenues of research. I am particularly intrigued by the petitions to Congress, which might yeild new primary source descriptions of the Indian Wars of the northwest. Unfortunately the search function, though otherwise robust, searches only the indexes of the Globe, at least for some volumes.
Interestingly, Google Book Search seems to have most or all of the Congressional Globe as well. The disadvantage (and this is a repeated problem in using Google Book Search) is that the individual volumes are not linked in any way. On the other hand they are fully digitized and you can use Google's powerful search features to mine the text.