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U.S. History in Digital Government Documents

This guide has been archived and may have outdated information or broken links.

The intent of this guide is to present examples of online U.S. federal government information that will be of interest to those doing historical research. To identify other federal government information resources, including other online government publications and/or those which are in print or microform formats, please use the resources listed in Government Publications or ask a librarian for assistance.

Jump to: U.S. Congressional Serial Set | FDsys Databases | Registry of Digitization Projects | Agency Digital Projects | Archival Collections | Citing Government Documents

U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American State Papers

U.S. Congressional Serial Set and American State Papers include hundreds of thousands of legislative and executive agency publications. Oviatt Library's subscription to both of these is part of Readex Corporation's Archive of Americana; it offers full text and a variety of ways to search these two very important collections. Select the appropriate collection for the time period of interest. Information about each of these collections is given below.

American State Papers, 1789-1838

American State Papers is a collection of legislative and executive documents from 1780-1838, many originating from the important period between 1789 and the beginning of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set in 1817.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1994, 1995-present

The Readex U.S. Congressional Serial Set digital collection includes the Serial Set in full-text format for 1817-1994. The database includes a Help page with tips for more effective searching.

For access to the U.S. Congressional Serials Set information from 1995 to present, use the U.S. Government Printing Office's Congressional Documents and Congressional Reports, both of which can be combined and searched using the FDsys Advanced Search.

The Oviatt Library also has print and microform holdings of various volumes of the Serial Set.

Examples of the types of documents that can be found in the U.S. Congressional Serial Set are available.

FDsys Federal Digital System Databases

FDsys Federal Digital System (U.S. Government Printing Office), which includes a multitude of databases, is a major resource for online United States government publications from the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Full text dates mostly from the 1990's to the present, with some major exceptions such as the Core Documents of U.S. Democracy collection. (Exact online coverage in the FDsys databases varies for each type of material; in many cases the library owns, in print or microform formats, materials older than what is available online, which are listed in the Library Catalog.)

Examples of FDsys databases include:

Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects  

Registry of U.S. Government Publication Digitization Projects (maintained by the U.S. Government Printing Office) lists digitization projects (usually done by libraries, government agencies, museums, and other non-profit institutions) that include U.S. Government publications. Browsing is by topic category or alphabetically by title; either provides an overview of the types of digital projects involved, an impressive and ever-expanding list covering a wide variety of subjects. Several of the more useful projects for history students include:

Federal Agency Digital Publication Projects

Some federal agencies are digitizing a number of their older publications to provide easier access. A few examples of such online collections are:

Unpublished Federal Records and Archival Collections Online

Citing Government Documents

For help citing these sources in Chicago/Turabian, APA, or MLA style, refer to the following websites:



Created by Mary M. Finley

Revised by Kathy Dabbour