Any way to search Congressional Record online?

I want to search the Congressional Record for a speech made in 1931, though I don’t know if it was from the 71st Cong. or the 72nd Cong.

The site says I can’t:

Are they still this far behind?

I don’t see it on Google Books either, though you’d think it would have been covered in their sweep of libraries.

Am I just not finding it or is this a big hole in our online histories?

Bumping this to see if the weekday hive mind has any answers.

A possibility: is the authoritative source for the Congressional Record, and GPO also has its own online archive. Both seem to pick up in the mid-1990s, I have no idea where you’d get Records from the years 1989 to 1994 online.

ETA: Your local Federal Repository Library should have all Congressional Records available to you, if memory serves. But you would have to go there.

Alternatively, if you have any sort of public law library available, you can go there and ask for help from the librarian to use Lexis or Westlaw. Both should go back to the beginning, and the search function is powerful, if not necessarily intuitive. I would check your local law school for the most likely publicly available law library. (I say should because I’m not a litigator and have never really had much reason to dig deep into that sort of legislative history, so I’m honestly not sure. But it should be there.)

I’m familiar with depository libraries, but it’s simply a pain to get to the one closest to me and not worth the time and trouble (and parking charges) to go there to look up one reference.

It’s more general than that. I can’t believe that a public resource like the Congressional Record isn’t completely accessible online. Looks like it’s true, but WTF? It shouldn’t be true.

Well, it’s not completely accessible online because it takes both staffing, money and time to digitize older resources, and additional time to make sure they’re both OCR’d and indexed well enough to make things findable in it. It’s an expensive proposition, and one that is not likely a high priority when it is still available to the public, albeit not in the most convenient format.

That said, there is a proprietary database that may have what you’re looking for - if you post, PM or email (this should be available in my profile) me the info, I can take a look, since my library subscribes. (Yes, I know the frustrations of proprietary databases selling access to digitized copies of US government publications and I could rant about it for a long time. And I do rant, loudly and often, but that’s yet to make the difference).

I’m sure Hein has it. But I’m not sure where you’d get it for free.

Which is literally and exactly what the Google Books project has, given that they invented technology to make it feasible and have already scanned over 30 million books using it. There is no reason I can see that old bound copies of the CR can’t be handled exactly as the millions of bound volumes of old magazines already have been.

Money. I’m not sure if the responsibility would fall to the Library of Congress or the Government Printing Office, but funding is a challenge. As a general rule (with exceptions of course), government agencies are prohibited from accepting donations, so it isn’t necessarily the case that Google or whomever could do the work and then hand over a digital catalog to the government, either.

To be perfectly fair, there is a part of the Google books collaboration that’s working on doing this. You can take a look at the steering documents here.

Yes, that’s my point. Google Books was designed for this and has been actively pursuing this for years. The lack of OCR on CR is WTF.

By whom was the speech made?

If it was a representative or senator, you could request a copy from the current holder of the office.

Because such offices, I have on good authority, can be staffed with people who love research and love to help people.

(No, this is not your elected official. It is a young, energetic, and underpaid person whose only source of satisfaction is fulfilling difficult or obscure requests.)

These things take time, or as the kids say, TTTT.

Yeah, but YOLO. And I don’t have that much time left.

Well played.

The volumes of the Congressional Record are available online at the Internet Archive. While you can’t easily search across all volumes at once, you can search within each volume thanks to their OCR.

(You might be able to search across volumes if your search criteria is specific enough.)

Terrific. While that interface is a little wonky, I do have several specific page numbers to look for, and a bit of patient searching may find it or not. I just wish the search box actually worked, since it brings up either nothing or multitudes of bad hits, depending on how much of the quote I put in.

Thank you for the find. Now the question becomes: if the Internet Archive has this where they they get it from and why doesn’t everybody else make use of it?