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Federal Statutes

This guide aims to provide the user with a general understanding in locating and updating known statutes and in identifying federal statutes by citation, name, or subject.

Finding Uncodified, Private and Superseded Laws

Only laws which are general and permanent in nature are codified. Occasionally, legislation is passed but is left uncodified. Congress also passes private laws in the same manner as it does public laws. Private laws do not affect everyone; rather, they benefit an individual or individuals and often deal with claims against the government or issues of immigration or naturalization. In addition, current editions of the Code do not reprint older, superseded laws. Locating uncodified, private or superseded laws requires you to go to one of the following sources:

  1. Statutes at Large is a permanent record of the laws passed during each Congress. The laws are published chronologically and the set includes all public and private laws passed since 1789. Uncodified laws, private laws and superseded laws can be located in Statutes at Large if the year of the legislation is known. Each volume includes a subject index and tables for help in locating desired legislation.

    USCCANKF 48 (Level 1 – East Reading Room) (from 76th Cong., 1939) 
    KF 50 (Level 1 - East Reading Room) (from 1789)

    Lexis Advance:

    Browse Sources > USCS - Public Laws (USCS Public Laws from 100th Cong., 1988)

    WestlawNext: United States Statutes at Large - Old (1789 - 1972); 
    United States Public Laws 1972-2010 (from 1972 to 2010);
    U.S. Public Laws - Current database for current Public Laws

    FDsys Public Laws (from 104th Cong., 1995) (Arranged by Public Law Number from 93rd Cong., 1973; Browse > select Congress > Laws) 
    HeinOnline Statutes at Large (from 1789) (UCLA Only)


  2. USCCAN is a commercial publication which includes a record of all laws passed since 1939 in chronological order. It also includes Executive Orders and Proclamations and can be used to locate both uncodified and superseded legislation. USCCAN provides popular name and subject indexes and tables for help in locating legislation. It is also a place to begin legislative history since some legislative committee reports are reproduced and references to others are included.

    KF 48 (East Reading Room)


    U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News - Public Laws for USCCAN (Public Laws from 1973)


  3. Superceded Codes: UCLA Law Library keeps the older versions of both the official and the commercial Codes but only retains the superseded bound volumes and their final pocket parts. These versions can be useful in finding the text of superseded Code sections along with their annotations. WestlawNext and Lexis Advance also contain Code archive databases.

    Level A, by call number (see above for titles)


    USCAyy database (historical versions from 1990, where yy is the year, e.g., USCA93 for 1993 version)


  4. USCS Uncodified is a separately bound volume of USCS which contains annotations to uncodified legislation but does not reproduce the text of the legislation.

    KF 62 1972 U5 (East Reading Room)


  5. United States Revised Statutes is the official codification of the federal laws which were in effect in 1873. Found in Volume 18 of Statutes at Large (see #1 above), the Revised Statutes provides a subject arrangement for historical Code research.