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A guide to government documents and publications useful for primary source research. Arranged by decade.
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2014 URL: http://libraryguides.missouri.edu/primary Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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General Sources

  • American Presidency Project
    Includes messages, public papers, state of the union addresses, news conferences, proclamations, signing statements, executive orders, presidential debates, administrative policy and more.
  • Avalon Project – Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy
    Contains documents from 4000 BCE to the present. Of particular interest are the American Constitution, Bilateral Treaties, 1778-1999, a chronology of American history from 1492 to present, Confederate States of America, Congressional Resolutions, the Federalist Papers, Journals of the Continental Congress, Presidential Papers and Inaugural Addresses, US Statutes concerning Native Americans and slavery, and diplomacy documents on relations with many foreign countries.
  • AMDOCS: Documents for the Study of American History
    This collection covers the year 800 to present with maps, charters, agreements, speeches, constitutions, presidential messages, battle reports, proclamations, treaties and more documenting the history of the United States.
  • American Memory Collection
    American Memory provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience.
  • Catalog of U.S. Government Publications  
    The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online (look for URL in last column). Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general key word, or click on "Advanced Search" for more options. More than 500,000 records are contained in the CGP and it is updated daily. Not all documents are full text.
  • Catalog of Government Publications, historical
    The primary catalog for electronic and print publications from the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the U.S. government. The CGP contains descriptive records for historical and current publications and provides direct links to those that are available online. Preceded by the Document Catalog (1893-1940), the 1909 Checklist (1789-1909), Ames Index (1881-1893), and Poore (1774-1881). Internet Archive (1895-1970)
    Print (Monthly Catalog, 1895-2004) MU ELLIS DOCS REFERENCE Z1223 .A18
  • FDSys
    GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides public access to Government information submitted by Congress and Federal agencies and preserved as technology changes.
  • Foreign Relations of the United States, 1861-current
    This series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. The series is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian. Online(1861-1960); Paper(1861-1868); Paper (1870-1931).
  • Hathi Trust
    HathiTrust makes the digitized collections of some of the nation’s great research libraries available for all. HathiTrust preserves and provides access to more than 6 million volumes, over 1 million of which are in the public domain. HathiTrust offers full-text search across all items in the repository (including public domain and in copyright works).
  • Historical Text Archive (HTA)
    The HTA publishes high quality articles, books, essays, documents, historical photos, and links, screened for content, for a broad range of historical subjects. There are some government documents in the Articles and Links areas
  • Internet Archive
    The internet archive contains archived versions of web sites and a wide range of items, from books to videos and audio. Many government documents have been included in this archive. It is recommended that you select "Text - American Libraries" from the drop down box. Once a search is complete, you can limit the results by choosing "USGovernmentDocuments" as the collection.
  • Ourdocuments.gov – 100 Milestone Documents
  • Patent and Trademark Office
    The patent and trademark office provide search capability for United States and international patents.
  • Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-current
    The Library of Congress has extensive resources for the study of the United States presidents and first ladies. The selected images include at least one likeness of each of the first forty-two presidents and most of the first ladies, and contain both formal and informal pictures.
  • Presidential Inaugurations, Library of Congress
    This collection contains approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files relating to inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to Barack Obama's inauguration of 2009. This presentation includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music.
  • Presidential Vetoes, 1789-current
    These publications provide histories for presidential vetoes, including whether Congress overrode the veto.
  • Proquest Congressional database  Icon
    Proquest Congressional indexes to congressional publications (1789-date), an extensive bill tracking service (1989-date), legislative histories (1969-date), floor votes (1989-date), public laws (1989-date), treaties with Indian tribes (1778-1874), treaties with foreign countries (1776-1949). In addition, full-text is available for the Congressional Record (1985-present), the Federal Register (1980-present), the Statutes at Large (1789-present), Congressional Research Service reports (1916-present) and Committee Prints (1830-present). This database also includes biographical, financial and voting information on current members of Congress.
  • Public Debt, 1791-current
    Historical debt outstanding by year.
  • Thomas
  • U.S. Supreme Court Opinions, 1790-current  Icon
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set  
    Commonly referred to as the Serial Set, it contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports bound by session of Congress. In general, it includes: committee reports related to bills and other matters, presidential communications to Congress, treaty materials, certain executive department publications, and certain non-governmental publications. Readex Serial Set covers 1817-1980. We have print copies from 1817-present MERLIN.
  • U.S. Congressional Serial Set Maps  Icon
    This collection includes high quality images of about 52,000 maps of all kinds, dating from the 1400s to the 1970s. The collection ranges from global maps to maps of building interiors; from interoceanic canals to city sidewalks. It covers an incredibly diverse range of topics. It includes but goes far beyond the typical political and land use maps, maps of military conflicts, trails, roads and waterways. There are maps on almost every conceivable topic in history, including alien labor, underwater tunnels, nightclubs, asteroids, shipwrecks, medical care, women’s rights, nearly every tribe of American Indian, and much more. These maps are part of the full Digital U.S. Congressional Serial Set database, but this special map module was created to facilitate access by geography, subject and date.
  • U.S. Statutes at Large  
    Provides full-text access to the laws of the United States from 1789 to the present. Includes public laws, private laws, concurrent resolutions, presidential proclamations, treaties with foreign nations (through 1849) and all treaties with Native American tribes.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Nominations, 1789-present
    Senate.gov contains information on nominees, who they were to replace, when they were nominated, the vote and the result.
  • LegalTrac  
    Contains nearly 11 million pages of records and briefs brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in the period 1832-1978.

Government Documents Librarian

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Sandy Schiefer
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106B Ellis Library
University of Missouri - Columbia
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Govt Documents Coordinator

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Marie Concannon
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106-B Ellis Library
Office phone: (573) 882-0748
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