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Bankruptcy Law Research: Legislative History

This guide provides links and descriptions to many of the resources related to bankruptcy law that are available, including print resources, subscription databases and free internet sources.

Legislative History Tips

Legislative history refers to the documentation created during the legislative process.  Researchers often look for legislative history documents to help them interpret a statute when the language is vague, to determine how a statute applies to a particular situation or to learn the rationale for why a statute was passed.

Many compiled legislative histories on bankruptcy law already exist, so you may not need to start your research from scratch.  Consult the compiled legislative histories referenced on this page before compiling your own history.  For additional information, see our Federal Legislative History Research Guide.

Law Review Articles

Law review articles are excellent sources for legislative history information related to statutes. 

Try searching in the Index to Legal Periodicals for scholarly articles.  For articles published prior to 1981, search in the Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective 1908-1981 database.

History of the Bankruptcy Code

The Appendix to Collier on Bankruptcy (10th floor KF1524 .C69 2009, available in Lexis) includes detailed legislative history information beginning with the Bankruptcy Act of 1898 through current Code.

The most comprehensive legislative history resource related to bankruptcy is the following database:

There are also specific compiled legislative histories related to individual acts.

  • Bankruptcy Reform : The Legislative History Of The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention And Consumer Protection Act Of 2005, edited by William H. Manz available via HeinOnline
  • Arnold & Porter legislative history: Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994 and available via Westlaw
  • Arnold & Porter legislative history: Bankruptcy Amendments and Federal Judgeship Act of 1984 available via Westlaw
  • Arnold & Porter legislative history: Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978, 10th floor - KF1511.55 .A15 1979 and available via Westlaw and HeinOnline

Treatises on the History of Bankruptcy Law

A History Of The Bankruptcy Law by  F. Regis Noel, originally published in 1919. 10th floor  KF1524 .N6 and available via HeinOnline

Debt's Dominion : A History Of Bankruptcy Law In America by David A. Skeel, Jr - 10th floor KF1526 .S59 2001