Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909, Third Edition Revised and Enlarged, Volume 1, Lists of Congressional and Departmental Publications Page: IX


third is from the 18th to the 21st Congress, 1823-31. The fourth is from the 22d to
the 25th Congress, 1831-39. These indexes have colored margins, the first being yellow,
blue, and white; the second, red; the third, green; and the fourth, white.
These colors give to the volume a unique and fantastic appearance. One wishes it
had been more usable. It is stated plainly on the half-title-page that "the indices
in this volume were made at different periods, and upon different plans."
Soon after the publication of the last of these 4 indexes the set was harshly criticized,
and apparently with justice, by Thomas F. Gordon, the lawyer and historian,
who characterized the indexes as "grievously deficient in indicating the nature and
contents of the-documents" to which they referred. He mentions also their "great
complexity." Between the lines one reads Gordon's argument for his own pet scheme,
which was to prepare and publish three sets of indexes-" one to the executive documents
and reports of committees of both Houses; one to the Journals of the House;
and another to the Journals of the Senate." This proposition, which had been agitated
from the latter part of the 25th Congress, received the approval of the Joint
Committee on the Library; but there is no evidence of further action on the subject
and Gordon's plan never had a trial. For expositions of his plan, the searcher is
referred to the following documents: 27th Congress, 3d session, House document 41,
serial no. 420; 28th Congress, 2d session, House document 46, serial no. 464; 29th
Congress, 1st session, Senate document 184, serial no. 473. The last-mentioned document
is merely a repetition of the document of the previous session, but it contains
in addition the report of approval by the Joint Committee on the Library. Although
Gordon's plans were never adopted, many of his suggestions were incorporated in
later indexes.
The next general indexes to Congressional documents and reports actually published
were two volumes prepared under the direction of Edward McPherson, clerk of the
House of Representatives. One was printed in 1870 and was entitled "Consolidated
index of executive documents of the House of Representatives, 26th-40th Congress."
The other, printed in 1869, covered the same period for reports of committees,
and had a similar title-page. These appeared as unnumbered documents included
in the Congressional set as serial numbers 1386 and 1387. It will be noted that these
indexes began where the multicolored indexes above described left off.
On June 12, 1874, Dr. Ainsworth Rand Spofford, then Librarian of Congress, presented
to the Senate a "Memorandum concerning a complete index to the documents
and debates of Congress." This was printed as 43d Congress, 1st session, Senate miscellaneaous
document 125, serial no. 1584. Dr. Spofford's plans were very comprehensive.
He contemplated a "topical index," which should index in one alphabet
not only the Congressional documents, 1789-1873, but also the Proceedings of Congre-s--the
Annals of Congress, the Register of debates, and the Congressional globe(X.);
American state papers (zero numbers); Wait's state papers (Z3.2:); Statutes at
large (S7.9:); Journals of Continental Congress (Z2.5:-Z2.7:); Force's American archives
(Z;l.:); Sparks's Diplomatic correspondence of American Revolution (Z2.2:); Madison's
Report of debates in Federal Convention, known as Madison papers (Z2.1:
E5 E15 3-5 E5, El 5 4-5); and Elliot's Debates in State constitutional conventions
(Z2.1:); aggregating about 1600 volumes in all. No such index as Dr. Spofford planned
ever materialized. His efforts, like Gordon's in earlier times, were quite fruitless.
Thomas Hudson McKee's compilation is familiar to many people who have had
occasion to consult Congressional committee reports from the 14th to the 49th Congress,
1815-87. The compilation was provided for by Congress, as noted in the body of this
Checklist under the classification number Y4.Ac2:M19, where will be found further
historical and bibliographical information concerning this useful collection of 515
volumes. The set was furnished with 94 indexes, 36 to Senate reports and 58 to House
reports, making a distinct index for each standing committee and a combined index

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United States. Superintendent of Documents. Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909, Third Edition Revised and Enlarged, Volume 1, Lists of Congressional and Departmental Publications, book, 1911; Washington D.C.. ( accessed March 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.