Skip to main content

HIST 3301 (Dr. Elizabeth Clark): Historical Methods (Govt. Docs)

Historical Methods - Research U.S. Government Documents

SuDoc Classification System

Federal publications in Government Documents are arranged by SuDoc (Superintendent of Documents) number.  Unlike the LC Classification System, which arranges items by topic, the SuDoc Classification System arranges items by the agency which published the items. 

While you cannot browse items by topic, such as Cuba, you may find these broad SuDoc areas particularly useful:

SuDoc Number Resource
D Department of Defense (1949 - )
Prex Executive Office of the President
S Department of State (1789 - )
Y Congress

Also, like many federal depository libraries, not all federal publications in the Government Documents unit are cataloged. All items received since 1995 have been cataloged, along with many older major sets and a variety of other historical publications.

The good news is that tools are available to help you find some of the cataloged and uncataloged resources. Learn more under the "How to Find It" tab on this page.

SuDoc Components

SuDoc numbers are divided, usually at the colon, into two parts -- the stem and the book number which then combine to make a complete SuDoc number.Example SuDoc number. I 29.6/6:F 75/988. The SudDoc Stem is I 29.6/6. The Book Number is F 75/988

All SuDoc numbers begin with one to four letters--indicating which department or independent agency authored the publication.  Next, when applicable, comes the bureau number.  It is divided from the rest of the SuDoc number by a period.

Following the period, each series issued by that bureau is also assigned a number.

After the stem, each individual issue or publication in a series is assigned a unique identifier, called a book number, following the colon. Unnumbered monographs, numbered monographic series, and serials, all have different types of identifiers.

Example SuDoc number. I 29.6/6:F 75/988. I stands for Interior Department. 29 stands for National Park Services. Point 6 stands for National Park Information Circulars. Forward slash 6 stands for National Historic Site Information Circulars. F 75 stands for Fords Theatre and the House Where Lincoln Died. And finally, the forward slash 988 stands for the 1988 Edition.
This table breaks down our example SuDoc: I 29.6/6:F 75/988
SuDoc Component Meaning
I Interior Department
29 National Park Service
.6 National Park Information Circulars
/6 National Historic Site Information Circulars
F 75 Fords Theatre and the House Where Lincoln Died
/988 1988 Edition

Therefore I 29.6/6:F 75/988 stands for the 1988 edition of Ford's Theatre and the House Where Lincoln Died in the series National Historic Site Information Circulars from the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior of the United States of America.

Current Lettering for SuDoc Class Stems

Alphabetic Symbol Department/Agency
AAgriculture
AENational Archives and Records Administration
BBroadcasting Board of Governors
CCommerce Department
CCFederal Communications Commission
CRCivil Rights Commission
DDefense Department
EEnergy Department
EDEducation Department
EPEnvironmental protection Agency
FAFine Arts Commission
FCAFarm Credit Administration
FHFFederal Housing Financing Board
FMFederal Mediation and Conciliation Service
FMCFederal Maritime Commission
FRFederal Reserve System Board of Governors
FTFederal Trade Commission
FTZForeign-Trade Zones Board
GAGovernment Accountability Office
GPGovernment Printing Office
GSGeneral Services Administration
HEHealth and Human Services Department
HHHousing and Urban Development Department
HSHomeland Security
IInterior Department
ICInterstate Commerce Commission
IDUS Agency for International Development
ITCInternational Trade Commission
JJustice Department
JUJudiciary
LLabor Department
LCLibrary of Congress
LRNational Labor Relations Board
MSMerit Systems Protection Board
NASNational Aeronautics and Space Administration
NCNational Capital Planning Commission
NCUNational Credit Union Administration
NFNational Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities
NMBNational Mediation Board
NSNational Science Foundation
OPOverseas Private Investment Corporation
PUnited States Postal Service
PEPeace Corps
PMPersonnel Management Office
PRPresident of the United States
PREXExecutive Office of the President
PRVPVice President of the United States
RRRailroad Retirement Board
SState Department
SBASmall Business Administration
SESecurities and Exchange Commission
SISmithsonian Institution
SSASocial Security Administration
TTreasury Department
TDTransportation Department
TDAUS Trade and Development Agency
VAVeterans Affairs Department
X and YCongress