Sources in the Blume Library and on the Web
In the Library
(NOTE: Call numbers given after each title are in the Main Floor Federal Documents Collection, unless preceded by a REF or FIRST or THIRD FLOOR designation.)
General Reference Books and General Series
|Congressional Record. (X). 1964-
. Since 1977, the "bound" edition of this basic compilation has been
received in microfiche. Paper daily issues are kept until the microfiche
is received. For more information about the Congressional Record, including
links to other internet sources of the publication, see
this section of the guide "Congress, Laws and Regulations." The Record is available
online for 1994
to the present from GPO Access. (select Public
and Private Laws under Legislative Process)
Earlier years of the Record and its predecessor publications are available as follows:
Serial Set. (Y 1.1/2:). 1964- . The Serial Set is comprised of two sub-series: "Reports" and "Documents." Reports are the comments, occasionally including dissenting views, which accompany bills out of Committee. Documents are a miscellaneous collection whatever the Congress decides to print. Some are ceremonial, some substantive. There are separate numerical sequences of reports and documents for Senate and House in each session of Congress. For more detailed information on the publications making up the Serial Set, including peculiarities of their arrangement in the Library and links to other internet sources, see this section of the guide "Congress, Laws and Regulations." Reports and Documents are available online from 1995 to the present from GPO Access (select Congressional Materials and then either Congressional Documents or Congressional Reports).
In recent years the Serial Set has been almost exclusively limited to being a (sometimes) dry record of Congressional recommendations and actions. But historically, it also contained many Executive Branch publications, including beautifully drawn maps and engravings, reports of explorations and investigations, etc. Unfortunately, the Blume Library's collection does not contain any of these older historical treasures, but you can see some of them, thanks to the University of Michigan's online exhibition: Congressional Serial Set: Hidden Treasures in American History. There are also links to digitized versions of particular documents of historical interest.
|Statutes at Large. (AE 2.111: ). 1935-
. Laws are first published in "slip" form, shelved at AE 2.110: . A year
or two later, a bound Statutes volume is published. Both forms include full
text of the laws, with a brief legislative history, including Congressional
Record citations and Senate/House report numbers.For more information about
the Statutes, including tips on using the printed volumes and links to other
internet sources, see this section of the
guide "Congress, Laws and Regulations." Public Laws (in slip form) are available
from 1995 to the present from GPO Access. They have also begun to digitize the Statutes volumes.
U.S. Code. (Y 1.2/5:). Published every 5 years; Library keeps most recent edition and supplements only. Summarizes the law in force by subject area, with references to Statutes at Large so that the full text may be found easily. The Code is available online from 1994 to the present from GPO Access.
|Legislation on Foreign Relations Through.... (Y 4. F 76/2-10: ). Updated variably; Library keeps current edition of
each volume only. Volume 1, covering Foreign Assistance, is updated the most
frequently. Other volumes cover treaties and programs in various areas such
as cultural exchanges, economic policy, international organizations, etc.
Legislative Histories. Exhaustive legislative histories of important laws can be found among the publications of many different agencies and Congressional Committees. To locate histories published since 1976, use the Online Catalog. In the Catalog, choose the "Advanced Title Keyword" option and use the words "Legislative" and "History" along with keywords from the law's official title. For more information on legislative histories and the legislative process, see this section of the guide "Laws and Regulations."
|U.S. Reports. (JU 6.8: ). 1963- (vol. 375- ) . These volumes contain the rulings of the Supreme Court. There is usually a lag of at least two years between the time a decision is handed down and its appearance in the U.S. Reports. More recent decisions are available at the Supreme Court website. For more information on finding court cases, see this guide, "Finding Supreme Court Cases," produced by Librarian Diane Duesterhoeft.|
|State Department series of
documents in foreign policy
These compilations contain documents (speeches, messages, press conferences, interviews, congressional testimony, etc.) expressing the goals and objectives of U.S. foreign policy by members of the Executive Branch. They are arranged chronologically by topical and geographic chapters. Each volume has an index and annotations, including references to other publications. Beginning in 1981, annual supplements on microfiche have been included with some volumes. (S 1.71/2-2: ) These include full texts of documents extracted in the printed volumes, and other material omitted from the main volumes for reasons of space. Printed finding aids list documents by number. Arrangement is keyed to chapters in the printed volumes.
|Current Policy. (S 1.71/4: ). Individual
texts of addresses, statements, etc. on foreign policy matters. Indexing
is through the Catalog of Government Publications only. This index is available
on campus (and
for St. Mary's students, faculty and staff). At a later date, the items in
this series will be included in the Library's Online Catalog. This series
was not published after approximately 1986 but similar current information
can be found at the "Press and Public
Affairs" section of the State Department's web site.
Agencies Generating Information of Interest
(Some specific publications and/or websites coming from these agencies are discussed in other sections of this guide.)
On the Web
|Library of Congress
American Memory. This portal provides access in a variety of ways to
the digitized collections of materials at the Library of Congress. The Library
is working to "digitize the distinctive, historical Americana materials from
the Library's collections and to make them available online to users worldwide,"
and is constantly adding new collection and materials to this digital storehouse.
The variety of materials available is astounding: papers and official documents
from political figures, Indian tribal music, various collections of pamphlets,
many collections of films and photographs, manuscripts from authors and poets,
and much more.
From the main American Memory page, choose "Collection Finder" to view links to collections in a particular subject area or scan a listing of all the collections.
There is also a search feature; you can use it to search across all the collections simultaneously or choose a particular subset by marking the collections you want to search. Search results can be limited by a variety of formats: documents, manuscripts, maps, sheet music, sound recordings, etc. By choosing "other options" on the search page, you can also restrict your search to a particular time period, a particular region of the U.S., or a particular division of the Library (e.g., Folklife Center, Law Library, Music Library, etc.). Other features of American Memory are a "This day in history" link and a section called the "Learning Page," which offers resources and information especially for teachers. Both of these features are linked off the main American Memory page.
|National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA). This federal agency is the ultimate repository
for official records of the U.S. government. Often when another agency, such
as GPO Access, offers a link to a set of records, such as the Federal Register,
the database is maintained by NARA. But although much of the information
at NARA's website deals with their onsite research facilities, there is a
great deal of interest and value available electronically as well.
Their AAD system ("Access to Archival Databases") provides public access to a large number of the databases housed at NARA.
The "Online Exhibits" link leads to collections of documents and records dealing with subjects as serious as the "Charters of Freedom"—where you can see images of the original Declaration of Independence, Constitution, etc.—and as fun as "When Nixon Met Elvis"—which features items from the Nixon Presidential Materials. The "Presidental Libraries" link provides a page with information and features from the Libraries, as well as links to them all. The "Digital Classroom" provides teachers with resources for classroom activities and more. One of these features is "Our Documents," which is also linked off the main page. It includes "Tools for Educators " and "100 Milestone Documents," which includes digital versions (as well as explanatory information) of items such as the Missouri Compromise, the cotton gin's patent, aerial photographs of missiles in Cuba, and many important laws, treaties, and court decisions.
NARA is also in the free movie business. Their FedFlix website is a collection of freely downloadable government films from the past 60 years and from a variety of government agencies. The collection is browseable and searchable and includes training films in all kinds of subjects, as well as scientific, technical, and historical movies. All of the films are in the public domain and can be re-used without restrictions.
An important function served by NARA is the harvesting of government websites at the end of Presidential and Congressional terms. For information about this process, see this page.
The main State Dept. website is primarily concerned
with current foreign policy issues. However, important material of historical
interest can be found under the Office of the Historian, or the "Youth and Education" link from the main page. Some of the resources available here include
the digitized volumes of the Foreign Relations of the U.S.
(see above) and a
Timeline of U.S. Dipolomatic
Web pages that were developed by the State Dept. from 1998 to January 20, 2001 (when George W. Bush took office as President) are available through the "Archive" link on the main State Dept. page. These archived pages are not updated, so some of the links they display may no longer function. In addition, a partnership between the State Dept. and the University of Illinois at Chicago library provides and Electronic Research Collection (ERC), which includes archived copies of many State Dept. publications from 1990 to 1997. There is an alphabetical list of the collection's contents, and a site map with access to subject groupings of documents.
Project at Yale Law School: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy.
This digitization project includes electronic versions of important primary
research materials in these fields as well as economics, politics and government.
The documents are grouped by century, beginning with "pre-18th century"
materials. You may also browse lists of authors, titles and subjects, and
there is a search function. The documents are not image files of the originals
but are digitized text, so they can be viewed in a normal web browser. There
is an informative help page with information on navigating the site, copying
and saving documents, browser issues, and other technical details. All kinds
of official and quasi-official reports and other publications from around
the world--laws, treaties, declarations, addresses, reports of investigations,
etc.--are included in the collection.
Core Documents of U.S. Democracy. This link collection leads to digital versions of important U.S. government sources, arranged in broad categories (Cornerstone Documents, Congressional, Presidential, Judicial, Economic, etc.). There are links to pages at the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and elsewhere, where you can find the text of important documents as well as explanatory material. The links lead to specific titles (such as the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Statistical Abstract) as well as series of official documents such as Public Laws, Supreme Court Decisions, Presidential Proclamations, and Economic Indicators. Online coverage of such series varies in terms of its historical extent.
National Park Service History and Culture. This section of the NPS website provides information on the history behind national parks, monuments, and landmarks, as well as preservation information and collections of historically interesting photographs.
Official Land Patents Records Site. This database, offered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), provides access to over two million Federal land title records, issued between 1820 and 1908. Search capabilities allow tracing initial transfers from the government to individuals, and can be used for geneology research by connecting people and locations at certain times. Copies certifying land transfers can be ordered.
National Security Archive at George Washington University collects and publishes declassified documents that it obtains through the Freedom of Information Act. They have special online exhibits on topics of particular interest, such as September 11, as well as archive collections on many other subjects. A search engine facilitates finding descriptions of any of their many collections (some of which are not available online).
Checklist of U.S. Public Documents, 1789-1909. A PDF version of this major documents reference tool is available from Evergreen State College.
The Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association is collecting databases at the state level which offered digitized historical media (photographs, video, audio).
Many libraries across the country are engaged in digitization projects covering government publications, and sometimes quirkily interesting collections are the result, like the Government Comics Collection at the University of Nebraska. These digitized collections can often be found through normal search engines, or you can check the Government Printing Office's Registry of Digitization Projects.
The Blume Library has made access to an extensive collection of government records, most of which are agency reports and decisions, available through the Online Catalog. The collection is provided by the Law Library Microform Consortium and is housed at the University of Michigan. For more information, see their web site. Items of particular interest to historians would be their holdings of treaty compilations and volumes of the Foreign Relations papers.
Government Information on the Web Subject Index
In addition to the major government websites described above, headings listed below might lead you to useful information in these specific areas:
|Arms Control||Foreign Affairs/Foreign Policy||Museums|