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A Guide to Primary Sources: U.S. Government Documents

The materials listed are a sampling of resources that may prove helpful in historical research. Look, too, for collections of documents published as anthologies or for important historical texts from the many sources listed below.

U.S. Government Documents

  • Foreign Relations of the United States
    Government Printing Office
    Collected correspondence, memoranda, treaties, presidential messages, etc., relating to relating to U. S. foreign policy, arranged chronologically and by region. This is a rich depository of primary source material on foreign relations and international issues.
    • Location(s): JX233 .A3
    1861-present (print) and 1945-present (online)
  • Historic Documents
    [Washington] Congressional Quarterly, inc.
    Each volume of this series consists of a compilation of the most important government documents (including government reports, treaties, court decisions, presidential addresses, etc) for a given year.
    • Location(s): Ref E839.5 .H57
    1972 - ongoing
  • Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States
    Office of the Federal Register
    A repository of proclamations, speeches, statements, etc. of presidents, kept up to date by the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Volumes from 1992 on are available online.
    • Location(s): shelved with the general collection at J80 .A283
    1957-
  • U.S. Serial Set
    Washinton, D.C: Government Printing Office 1789-1969
    This series is a compilation of various sorts of Congressional documents. The library owns papers in this series covering the 17th Congress (1798-1823), the 36th through 41st Congress (1859-1871) and the 42nd Congress (1871-1873). They are available on microfiche in the government documents area in a cabinet marked "American State Papers"; a printed index provides subject access to the microfiche by document and envelope number. (For example, an entry for "S.misdoc. 22 (39 - II) 1278" is referencing document number 22 in microfiche envelope number 1278; it is a miscellaneous Senate document from the second session of the 39th Congress.)
    • Location(s): Lower Level- Government Documents Microfiche
  • National Archives and Records Administration
    NARA is the official depository for U.S. government materials. From this site, you can access digitized copies of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other important documents.

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Jeff Jenson
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