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Q&A: Congressional Serial Set database

Question: I'm looking for the Receipts and Expenditures of the United States for the 1850s through the 1890s. I understand that this is part of the United States Congressional Serial Set, online, but when I construct a search with the terms above, and the date range, I get such a large result that I find it very hard to spot what I really need. Is there a better way to search this database?

Answer: Currently, your best approach would be to use the database called LexisNexis Congressional, or Congressional Publications, as an index to the Serial Set. It's on the Databases list under C, or you can just search the term Congressional in the Databases Search box, and click on the link for Congressional Publications. Then, construct your search as follows:

1. Go to the Advanced Search [tab at the top of the display].
2. Type Receipts and Expenditures in the first box. Anything typed as a phrase in LexisNexis is searched as a phrase.
3. Then, remove all the check marks from the Search Within categories, EXCEPT for the Serial Set, 1789-1969.
4. Pick a particular Congress, or set the search date to Prior to 1970. If you do the latter, you'll get 317 listings, covering all the Receipts and Expenditures statements from 1789 to 1969. They will be displayed in chronological order, from 1969 back. It's very easy to scan this list, as it's all on one html "page".
5. Click on the item that matches what you want. For example: Receipts and Expenditures of United States, 1857:

TITLE: Receipts and expenditures of United States, 1857
CIS-NO: 947 H.exdoc.13
DOC-TYPE: Serial Set Collection
DOC-NO: H.exdoc.13, 35-1
SERIAL-VOL-NO: 947
SESSIONAL-VOL-NO: 4
CONG-SESS: 35-1
SESSION-DATE: 1857, 1858
CONGRESS: 35

Note the Serial Vol-No: 947.

6. In a simultaneous browser session, open the United States Congressional Serial Set database, from the Databases list.
7. Set the search box to: In Serial Set Vol No.
8. Enter the number 947 from the LexisNexis record, and do your search.

You will get two records, one appearing to be merely a "Letter" from the Secretary of the Treasury, but which is actually the full transmission of the Receipts and Expenditures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1857. [Note the pagination: it has 738 pages].

With two browser sessions running, it's easy to move back and forth between the chronological list on LexisNexis and the full text display of the United States Congressional Serial Set, pasting in each relevant Serial Set volume number. Each Serial Set Volume Number is unique, so this approach targets your search quite well.

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