Statutes At Large

Statutes at Large in the United States

A bound volume of “slip laws” or laws enacted by Congress. See slip laws (in this encyclopedia). The Statutes at Large have been codified into the United States Code.

U.S. Statutes at Large: a permanent Evidence

Every law, public and private, ever enacted by the Congress has to be published (produced) in the Statutes at Large in order of the date of its passage. It also contains proposed and ratified amendments to the Constitution, concurrent resolutions, reorganization plans, and proclamations by the President. It is produced under the direction of the Office of the Federal Register through the Congressional Printing Management Division, U.S. Government Printing Office.

The set is, therefore, a legal and permanent evidence of all the laws enacted during a session of Congress (1 U.S.C. 112).


The publication of the U.S. Statutes at Large began in 1845 by the private firm of Little, Brown and Company under permission granted by the Congressa in a joint resolution. That year, this political chamber transferred the responsability to produce (publish) this legal body set (until now) to the Government Printing Office (GPO) under the direction of the Office of the Federal Register.

Until 1948, all treaties and international contracts and agreements approved by the U.S. Senate were published in the United States Statutes at Large. In addition, the set includes the text of the Treaties with Indians, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, the Constitution, amendments to the Constitution, Treaties and agreements with foreign nations, and presidential proclamations.

There were in the 1980s two unofficial editions:

  • the U.S. Code Annotated and
  • the Federal Code Annotated.

What is Statutes At Large?

The official U.S. Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large, is a chronological arrangement and the formal source for the laws and resolutions enacted by Congress. For a further meaning of it, read Statutes At Large in the Legal Dictionary here. Browse and search more U.S. and international free legal definitions and legal terms related to Statutes At Large.

Legal Materials

Statutes at Large is “the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress …. Every public and private law passed by Congress is published in the Statutes at Large in order of the date it was enacted into law. The laws are arranged by Public Law number and are cited by volume and page number. Also included in the United States Statutes at Large are concurrent resolutions, proclamations by the President, proposed and ratified amendments to the Constitution, and reorganization plans. Until 1948, treaties and international agreements approved by the Senate were also published in the Statutes at Large” (from the About Statutes at Large).

Each new volume of Statutes at Large is published two or more years after the close of the related Congressional session.

Statutes at Large is available:

  • In print or on microfilm, at some large law libraries;
  • Free online from the 1st through the 43rd Congress (1789-1875) from the from the Library of Congress.
  • Free online from the 108th Congress (2003-04) to the present from the FDsys;
  • On Lexis (LEGIS;STATLG) from Volume 1 to the present. If you have a citation, you can pull a law or other document using the format: “99 Stat 1761”. To retrieve only Private Laws, add “and HEADING(Private Laws)” to the end of your search string;
  • Back to volume 1 (1789) for subscribers to Hein Online;
  • Back to volume 1 (1789) for subscribers to ProQuest Congressional, if they have also purchased the U.S. Statutes at Large add-on subscription; and
  • For sale in print from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore, from William S. Hein & Co. and, used, from The Law Book Exchange.

Annotations: If a Federal law has been codified into the United States Code, you can find annotations for each Code section in the United States Code Annotated and theUnited States Code Service (see “United States Code”). If a Federal law has not been codified, you can find judicial opinions, law review articles and other sources citing the law by looking up the Statutes at Law citation in the print edition of Shepard’s Federal Statute Citations.

Citation of Statutes At Large

See Federal Law Citation, including the “How to Cite Federal Statutes” section.

U.S. Code

The United States Code (see the US Code Portal) is an updated consolidation and codification, by subject arrangement, of the all general and permanent U.S. laws already enacted. It is prepared by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives.
See an entry about the U.S. Code here.

Federal Statutes

Statutes at large versus US Code

The Courts have held that the Statutes at Large are the controlling language when it differs from the codified acts in the United States Code. See 1 USCS 204. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Stephan v. United States, 319 U.S. 423 (1943) that “The very meaning of prima facie is that the Code cannot prevail over the Statutes at Large when the two are inconsistent.” This statement has been cited by the Courts over the years. In United States Nat’l. Bank v. Independent Ins. Agents of Am., 508 U.S. 439 (1993) a court legal opinion was reversed because it used the U.S. Code instead of the Statutes at Large. When there is a discrepancy between the U.S. Code and the Statutes at Large, the Statutes at Large always wins. The US Code Service (Lexis) is based on the wording of the Statutes at Large and not in the U.S.C.

State Statutes

State Statutes topics

List of an example of State Statutes topics:
A (Statutes) | B (Statutes) | C (Statutes) | D (Statutes) | E (Statutes) | F (Statutes) | G (Statutes) | H (Statutes) | I (Statutes) | J (Statutes) | K (Statutes) | L (Statutes) | M (Statutes) | N (Statutes) | O (Statutes) | P (Statutes) | Q (Statutes) | R (Statutes) | S (Statutes) | T (Statutes) | U (Statutes) | W (Statutes) | X (Statutes) | Y (Statutes) | Z (Statutes)

Statutes and Law (International)

See Also

Congressional Resolutions
Federal Legislative History
Presidential Materials
Private Laws
Public Laws
United States Code

Statutes at Large in the Context of Law Research

The Thurgood Marshall School of Law Library defined briefly Statutes at Large as: The publication in which uncodified United States laws appear.Legal research resources, including Statutes at Large, help to identify the law that governs an activity and to find materials that explain that law.

Statutes At Large: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Statutes At Large. This part provides references, in relation to Statutes At Large, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Statutes At Large by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Statutes At Large and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Statutes At Large or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Statutes At Large and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Statutes At Large. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Statutes At Large should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Statutes At Large when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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