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US Government Information in the Study of History

describes historically significant documents in the Library's collection, and important web sources for history

What's included in this guide?

Raiders of the Lost Ark"Who knows, Dr. Jones? Perhaps in 1000 years even you will be worth something."
— Raiders of the Lost Ark

From the standpoint of historical research, any and all government publications could be considered as potential primary research materials. To limit the scope of this guide to a manageable amount of material, only the following are included.

Online resources:
  • web sites with substantial reference value such as "portals" and meta-sites dealing with history
  • Tangible resources:
  • primary print materials in significant compilations or in long runs covering many years.
  • significant sets of primary materials dealing with major events in history, such as the Nixon impeachment hearings, the Kennedy assasination, etc.
  • major secondary print reference works

In addition, I have included information about publications of specific agencies, usually those with limited scope, and about major series.

The Blume Library's print collection

NOTE that the Library ceased receiving new tangible government documents in Spring, 2016, and withdrew large numbers of tangible documents during the previous year.

booksParticularly when searching for older material in any library, it helps to know something about the history of the collection.

The Blume Library (then called the Academic Library) became a U.S. documents depository in 1964. Most of our printed material, therefore, is of that vintage or more recent.

However, in 1964 the Library was in possession of some government documents that had been published earlier and purchased. Most of this material was integrated into the new documents collection, and is shelved on the 2nd floor with Superintendent of Documents classification numbers.

For more information on how the collection is organized, see the Finding Government Information guide

A few government publications have remained in the Library of Congress (LC) classification system and are shelved on the 3rd Floor of the Library or on the 1st Floor in the Reference Collection. Some of these items are described in this guide, with their call numbers given. For items not in the documents stacks, the call numbers are printed in red.


Resources in the blue boxes in this guide are available in print in the Library's collections, and most may be checked out by eligible borrowers (they are also available for interlibrary loan). Classification numbers given are in the documents collection, on the Library's 2nd floor, unless otherwise specified. Items with REF call numbers may not be checked out.

Looking for old docs or old websites?

booksLooking for a document, video, or other information that you know you saw on a government website, but now it's nowhere to be found?

These various archiving projects might be able to help you out. Note that the archived websites might have broken links or other non-functional content.

Locating US Government sources in other sources

Readers of this guide will notice immediately that no single agency is responsible for all publications relating to history.

Because of this dispersion of pertinent material throughout the Federal government, users of government information are urged to use the Library's Online Catalog and other sources, such as indexes, in order to perform comprehensive searches.

Many other useful sources are described and linked in other LibGuides:

Also be aware that other libraries in the city may have more extensive collections in certain areas than we do, and we may borrow from these libraries. Ask a librarian for assistance if you have difficulty finding the information you need.