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

Historical Methods - Research U.S. Government Documents

Introduction

You may use library databases and other online resources to find the titles or text of historical U.S. documents.  Some suggested resources are included on this page.

WorldCat

The database WorldCat allows you to search the online catalogs of over 72,000 libraries in the United States and the world. Many items from the 1930s and older are cataloged.

Type in a sample search, such as cold war sources. Search options include subject, title, author, etc.

To limit a search to a "national government publication", search by Material Type in the pull-down menu.  This code will include the U.S. and other nations:

  • ngp (national government publication)

The full text of some items may be available online for free. Select the tab for Internet to only view online resources.

URLs from a .gov often indicate a free and full text resource.

URLs from hathitrust.org are usually only free and full text if they are government publication or out of copyright restrictions.

Since many items in the Cornette Library's Government Documents department are not cataloged before 1995, you may use a search to find a possible SuDoc number. You may then search the library's collection for that SuDoc number.

If you find a document that is not in our collection, you may click on the link to Request via Interlibrary Loan. Our library will try to borrow that item from another library for your use.

Allow two to three weeks to receive a book. It is possible that the book may be loaned out to you for only one to two weeks.

Some government documents are too rare or fragile to be sent by mail. Other items may be in-library use only.

Congressional Publications (ProQuest)

The database Congressional Publications includes indexing of hearings back to 1824.  You may find full text of some hearings in the Cornette Library, online in HathiTrust, or request via Interlibrary Loan.

Suggested Advanced Search:    

"Soviet Union" in All fields except full text      Year is between1947 & 1991

You may customize the search to "Select All" options or only the ones that interest you the most, such as:

  • Committee Prints & Misc. Publications
  • Congressional Record Daily Edition
  • Hearings
  • House & Senate Documents
  • House & Senate Reports

Results are in order by Relevance.  Can change to Sort by Date (oldest first)

CIA Reading Room

The CIA Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room makes declassified documents available onine.  Historical Collections include:

Dig deep to find additional collections, such as The Princeton Collection It has documents from 1951 to 1991 written by the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence about the former Soviet Union.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980 (Readex)

The database U.S. Congressional Serial Set contains Senate and House documents and reports.  The information page on the Serial Set shows tips and more about its wealth of historical publications.

Sample Advanced Search:

  • "soviet union" in Citation Text      
  • "berlin blockade" in Citation Text

 

HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust is a digital repository that preserves millions of volumes online.  It is an amazing source for historical government documents.

You may inadvertently find items in HathiTrust when searching the database WorldCat or using Google.  But it is also user-friendly to search its online catalog or within the full text of its items.

Government documents in HathiTrust are usually freely available to all researchers.  Other items may only be viewed page-by-page if you are not an authenticated member.  (Cornette Library is not a member.)

Because of copyright issues, some items can only be searched, not viewed.

Cornette Library Web Pages - Govt Docs

The library's Government Information page points to many topics with online resources.