Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Skip navigation

Government Publications: Web Resources

We are the main source to help you find government information in print and online

GOVERNMENT INFORMATION ONLINE

Even if you cannot get to the library, there are still large collections of full-text government publications you can access. Listed here are freely available digital collections. They include historical titles, originally in print, that have since been digitized and are available as PDFs or web pages.

govinfo.gov is a very good starting place. It is the central repository for primary documents that reflect the activity of the US government. This collection is already large with more being added everyday, and includes both historical titles and new digital documents. Among the major series you can find:

  • Budget of the US government — this is the budget the president submits to Congress. Govinfo hosts the budget back to 1996. You can find earlier years at FRASER  (hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)
  • Code of Federal Regulations — The Code (CFR) brings together the rules published by executive branch agencies and departments, into a systematic whole. Each section (or title, as they are named), covers a general subject, such as the environment, public health, or labor. Proposed rules are originally published in the Federal Register (see below) for public review and comment. Compare this to the United States Code and the Statutes at Large which are the laws of the United States as passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.
  • Compilation of Presidential Documents — Listing of presidential remarks, addresses, statements made at the time of a bill signing and other events as they happen. This collection holds 1993 to the present. Prior to 2009 these compilations were published weekly. Since that time documents are compiled daily. Note that there is a time lag between the date of an event and the publication of the resulting document. For earlier presidential documents see the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. The University of Michigan also hosts a digitized collection of the Public Papers which includes the papers of Franklin Roosevelt. Because the Roosevelt volumes were originally published commercially they are not in the govinfo collection. An earlier series, A Compilation of Messages and Papers of the Presidents, covering Washington through Theodore Roosevelt, has been captured as text by Project Gutenberg.
  • Congressional Record — Presents the official record of the proceedings and debates on the floor of Congress for 1994 to the present. These are the debates that take place in the House and Senate chambers, not committee hearings. Issues of the Congressional Record are published daily while Congress is in session. Digitized editions of all volumes of the Bound (final edition) Congressional Record for 1873 through 2001, and 2005 through 2013 can be found here.  The “bound edition” comprises the daily issues collected into one continuously-paged volume for each session of Congress.
  • Congressional Reports — reports presenting committee views on proposed legislation (supporting or opposing) and issues being investigated.  House and Senate reports are good sources of legislative history with background and need for the bill under discussion, in plain language, and often including committee votes taken, amendments and references to hearings held.
  • Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation — Richly annotated text of the U.S. Constitution and all amendments with an historical introduction and complete list of the relevant cases decided by the Supreme Court. This page comprises previous editions of this title and its supplements back to 1992 in PDF format. An alternative at congress.gov provides the same text with many related resources including a simple text version of the Constitution.
  • Federal Register is the daily record of proposed rules, final rules, public notices, and Presidential actions (such as executive orders and proclamations). So this is where regulations first appear. The Office of the Federal Register publishes an interactive version at federalregister.gov that includes reader aids to help a user navigate the site. The entire historical run of this title is now available.
  • Kappler's Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties — from the about page: "this historically significant, seven volume compilation contains U.S. treaties, laws and executive orders pertaining to Native Amercan Indian tribes." A supplementary volume published in 1975 compiled regulations related to Indian affairs that were not included in Title 25: Indians.
  • Statutes at Large — These are the laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress. They are presented in order of the date they were enacted. There is normally a delay of several years before the Statutes are published. For current laws (1995—the present) see the Public and Private Laws collection. View Statute volumes for 1789-1950 here.
  • Statute compilations — a collection of “public laws that either do not appear in the U.S. Code or that have been classified to a title of the U.S. Code that has not been enacted into positive law.” This page provides an explanation of positive law in the context of the US Code.
  • Supreme Court Nomination Hearings — hearings for Supreme Court Justices from William Rehnquist & Lewis Powell (1971) to the present. This site does not include unsuccessful nominations.
  • The US Code gathers the “general and permanent laws of the United States” into titles based on broad subject areas. Also see the Office of the Law Revision Counsel page for some helpful and innovative tools related to the Code. The laws are not the same as regulations. As noted on this page: “regulations issued by executive branch agencies are available in the Code of Federal Regulations. Proposed and recently adopted regulations may be found in the Federal Register.”

Archives.gov — is the homepage of the National Archives (NARA). Here you can find information about the Archives holdings and how to arrange a visit to the National Archives or one of its regional offices. NARA also hosts a rapidly growing collection of digitized material including text, video and photographs. See the Record Group Explorer to gain a sense of what is available online. This NARA blog column has advice on "Two Steps Every Researcher Should Take" before visiting the Archives. Note that research rooms are presently closed.

Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) — “BEA’s economic statistics offer a comprehensive picture of the U.S. economy. BEA prepares national, regional, industry, and international accounts that present essential information on such issues in the world economy.” Includes the complete 100 year run of the Survey of Current Business (SCB)

Bureau of Labor Statistics — Current and historical reports on labor, price indexes, and wages.

Census of Population and Housing — volumes for 1790 through 2010 have been scanned and made available here as PDFs. Some of the files are large and take a long time to download. More recent Census publications here include data in tabular form for download.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873 covers the Continental Congress in the Journals of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, the American State Papers (legislative and executive documents of Congress from 1789-1838), Journals of the House and Senate and the forerunners to the Congressional Record: Annals of Congress, Registers of Debate, and the Congressional Globe.

Congress.gov — The official source for information on congressional activity. Here you can follow legislation as it moves through the House and Senate, lookup committee and member profiles, watch video from the House and Senate floor, as well as video of committee hearings. This site links to authenticated versions of bills, committee reports, and the Congressional Record.  Dates of coverage for the resources provided here vary, so please see Coverage Dates for Legislative Information for current information. Also provides in-depth help pages, and further resources to learn about the legislative process such as Legislative Process: Overview (Video) and Learn About the Legislative Process.

Congressional Research Service Reports — This is another very good starting place to search for information on a general subject. These are reports on legislation or any other topic of interest to Congress. They cover a wide range of subjects and provide non-partisan research, usually footnoted so you can check sources and find further background. The agency continues to add reports from their back file.

Data.census.gov is the Census Bureau’s new site for access to population, housing, economic, and geographic data. The site uses a simple search box to begin, or you can use the advanced search option to chose from a series of filters that will help you narrow your search. Visit Census Academy to view brief video tutorials, called Data Gems, such as How to Navigate data.census.gov , or view a variety of How-to Materials for Using data.census.gov in brief handout form. One note of caution: The Census Bureau is still migrating data from the old American Fact Finder. The new site does not include everything yet.

The EPA National Library Catalog contains thousands of digitized reports from 1970 to the present.

Federal Reserve Board - Data — A central resource for data and reports on banking, finance and monetary policy in the United States. Also see FRASER | Discover Economic History below.

Foreign Relations of the United States at the State Department together with UW Digital Collections present the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. Also see:

FRASER | Discover Economic History | St. Louis Fed

Federal Reserve Economic Data | FRED is another excellent resource from the St. Louis Federal Reserve. This site focuses on time series and consists of the more than 700, 000 tables. The related site Archival FRED | ALFRED “allows you to retrieve vintage versions of economic data that were available on specific dates in history.”

Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights presents a thorough collection of reports and hearings of the US Commission on Civil Rights from its inception in 1957.

Military Legal Resources covers trials from the Civil War through the Vietnam War, including the Nuremberg Tribunals.

NASA Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Program

Science.gov is a general search engine that covers over 60 databases and includes current and historical reports. Users can refine search results by data range, subject, and author.

Statistical Abstracts Series — covers the entire run of this venerable publication from 1878-2012. Description from the page “the authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States.“

Supremecourt.gov — High court opinions from 2002 onward, oral arguments, and more. The Law Library of Congress has digitized the Supreme Court’s U.S. Reports from 1754 to 2003, so the complete run is free and available online.

U.S. Geological Survey Publications Warehouse hosts more than 150,000 reports spanning the 150-plus year history of the agency.

The United States Government Manual — provides an organizational chart of the U.S. government and for each agency, it includes a description, lists the personnel and cites the legislation that initially created the agency. govinfo has a historical collection of the earlier manuals.

Vital Statistics of the United States — This is an annual report published from 1890-2003 which provides detailed vital statistics data, including natality, mortality, marriage and divorce. These reports are available for download. The site also has links to preliminary data and topical reports for more recent years in the National Health Statistics Reports and National Vital Statistics Reports.