Recently for a project I needed statutes governing the now-defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Immigration regulation in the U.S. has a fascinating history, but suffice it to say that the INS existed from 1933 to 2003, when its duties were divided among Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The ICC was created in 1887 primarily to regulate railroads; it was abolished in 1995 after being gradually gutted of its powers over the preceding years.
In order to locate statutes governing the adjudicatory powers of those agencies, I had to go back to older versions of the United States Code. Some of the statutes I needed were from the 1970s and 1980s. Where to find them? Lexis Advance and Westlaw Edge are great, but not for looking up previous versions of the U.S. Code.
My favorite tool for older versions of the U.S. Code is HeinOnline. Click on the U.S. Code link under databases, then U.S. Code again. From there it’s easy to choose the edition of Code I need—the 1976 edition, for example (since 1934, the U.S. Code has been published every six years). Within each edition of the code, I can scroll down and locate the volumes containing the index, the popular names index, and the updating supplements. HeinOnline’s U.S. Code database also has a tab for federal statutory compilations that were published before 1926, when the U.S. Code came into existence. The Other Related Works tab contains links to specialized statutory compilations, such as Digest of Laws and Regulations in Force in the United States Relating to the Possession, Use, Sale, and Manufacture of Poisons and Habit-Forming Drugs, from 1912.
If you don’t have access to HeinOnline, the next best options are the free versions of the Code on govinfo.gov or on the website of the Office of the Law Revision Counsel at uscode.house.gov. Both of these versions go back to 1994. The govinfo website provides a version of the code for each year since 1994, with the supplementary updates incorporated. The Law Revision Counsel version is like the HeinOnline version in tracking the print version and showing the different supplements. However, it is functionally the same as the govinfo version. To navigate to older versions of the code on the Law Revision Counsel website, use the dropdown menu next to “Browse the United States Code.”