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Government Information in the Study of History

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

National Archives (NARA)

National Archives logoThe National Archives & Records Administration (NARA), or, is the major archives website for government information—interpreted broadly so as to include material such as military and older Census records.


Note: some of the following reference guides were published some time ago. They are still valuable resources for older collections of archives but be aware that they will not refer to newer material or to newer methods of access. Also, NARA publications dated prior to 1986 are classified GS 4.; after that date, AE 2.

  • The Emerging Nation : a documentary history of the foreign relations of the United States under the Articles of Confederation, 1780-1789. AE 1.114/3:N 21. 1996.
  • Guide to the Records of the U.S. Senate at the National Archives. Y 1.1/2:13853. 1989.
  • Guide to the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives at the National Archives. Y 1.1/2:13886. 1989. Describe committee and general records, divided into pre- and post-1968 archives. Useful addition material includes: an introductory chapter on research methodology, a glossary of terms, bibliography and detailed index.

The Library has other publications from the National Archives of interest to researchers, especially items in these series:

  • General Information Leaflets AE 1.113: . Pamphlets with general information on the Archives and their collections. For example, "Visitor's Guide: The National Archives Experience" AE 1.113:18/2010.
  • Reference Information Papers (AE 1.124:). More substantial research guides dealing with particular collections or subjects, such as "Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II" AE 2.124:80,82.

Library of Congress (LC)

The Library of Congress Digital Collections portal provides access to organized collections of digitized material from the agency and other institutions.

The variety of materials available is astounding: papers and official documents from political figures, Indian tribal music, maps, various collections of pamphlets, many collections of films, photographs, and audio files, manuscripts from authors and poets, and much more.