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U.S. History Guide

U.S. Government Documents

The most substantial collection in this area is that of U.S. Government Documents. The library is a selective depository for federal publications and receives about half of the publications distributed by the U.S. Government Printing Office. These publications are produced by virtually every agency, bureau, and unit of the three branches of government. The collection contains books, congressional hearings, research reports, journals, pamphlets, laws, and electronic databases produced by the U.S. Government at the expense of the tax payers. The collection consists of paper, microfiche, CD-ROM format documents, and Internet resources. Some items in the collection are more than a century old, but most are from the past 30 years. In addition, it is possible to access a wide range of U.S. government information sources through the World Wide Web. A good starting point for doing this is through the federal drop down menu at the top of this page.

Examples of Historic U.S. Government Documents

Census-Various series and years UNI Docs Ref C 3.
Trials of (WWII) War Criminals UNI Docs D 102.8:
U.S. Army in WWII UNI Docs D 114.7:
Index, Papers of the Continental Congress UNI Docs GS 4.2:C 76/3
Public Papers of the Presidents UNI Docs Ref AE 2.114:
Foreign Relations of the U.S. (1861-) UNI Docs Ref S1.1:
Handbook of North American Indians UNI Docs Si 1.20/2:
War of the Rebellion - Official Recors of the Union and Confederate Armies UNI Docs W 45.5:
Activities of the Klu Klux Klan Organizations in the United States UNI Docs Y 4.Un1/2: K95/pt. 1-5
Congressional Serial Set. (Incomplete) ASP (01-037) & 1-2160 and current - microfiche; 2161-13309 bound and shelved after Y 4.

Identifying U.S. Documents

General Finding Aids- Documents

UNISTAR (the online catalog)
UNISTAR contains records for more than 100,000 U.S. government publications. Most of these records are for documents published since the late 1980s. However, records for documents published before the late 1980s by selected agencies and most Congressional hearings have been entered into UNISTAR. Additional records for new publications that the library receives are added regularly. Look for items with the locations UNI Docs, UNI Docs Fiche or UNI Docs Ref.

Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, 1895-
Paper: 1895-1976: Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223 A18
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
(GPO Access), January 1994- (unrestricted)
This index, in its various forms, is the most comprehensive and general index to government information resources published by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Cumulative Subject index to the Monthly Catalog, 1900 -1971
(UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223 Z7C82)

Cumulative Title Index to U.S. Public Documents, 1789 -1976
(UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223 Z7C64)

Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789 - 1909
(UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223.A113)

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States, September 5, 1774 - March 4, 1881 (Also known as Poore's). (UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223.A1885)

LexisNexis Congressional (Limited to UNI patrons only)
Available on the Rod Library home page. Select the title from the Databases A-Z listing under Journal and Magazine Articles.

This database provides "access to the full-text of more than 211 years worth of detailed information about Congress, including member biographies, committee assignments, voting records, financial data, and the full-text of key regulatory and statutory resources.

LexisNexis Congressional includes 1970- of the CIS Annual / Index to publications of the U.S. Congress (1970-1997 also at: UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223 Z7C65), and the Congressional Indexes 17891969 listed below.

CIS U.S. Serial Set Index,
18171969, includes the American State Papers, 1789 1830s. (Also at: UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223 Z7C64)
CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Hearing Index.
(Also at: UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 7165 U5C15)
CIS Indexes to Unpublished Congressional Committee Hearings.
Unpublished U.S. Senate Committee Hearings, 1823-1964 (also at: UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 7165 U5C14). Unpublished U.S. House of Representatives Committee Hearings, 1833-1936 (also at: UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 7165 U5C145 1988)
CIS U.S. Congressional Committee Prints Index.
(Also at: UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z7165 U5C6512)
CIS Index to U.S. Senate Executive Documents and Reports.
Senate executive documents and reports located at UNI Serial Set (before 1976) and UNI Docs Fiche Y 1.1/3:,Y 1.1/4:, Y 1.1/5:, and Y 1.1/6: (1976-).

General Finding Aids- Statistics

American Statistics Index, 1974- (UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 7554 U5A4)
Indexes and summarizes statistics published by the federal government since the early 1960s. Many of the titles indexed here are also searchable in LexisNexis Statistical.

LexisNexis Statistical (Limited to UNI patrons only)
Available on the Rod Library home page. Select the title from the Databases A-Z listing under Journal and Magazine Articles. 

For a more complete listing of titles indexed in this database, click on "Sources" in the black bar at the top of the LexisNexis Statistical page and then click on "Content Lists for Basic and Research Collections."

Statistical Abstract of the United States
(UNI Docs Ref C 3.134: year) 
UNI has: 1878-1892, 1894-1926, 1928-. Also available online are years 1995 through the most recent issue of Statistical Abstract of the United States. Although not a primary source itself, the sources for the statistics contained in this publication are clearly identified at the bottom of each table.

Specialized Finding Aids

CIS Index to U.S. Executive Branch Documents, 1789-1909
(UNI Docs Index/Abstract JK 411 C 53)

CIS Index to U.S. Executive Branch Documents, 1910-1932
(UNI Docs Index/Abstract JK 411 C 53)

CIS U.S. Serial Set Index and Carto-Bibliography of Maps, 1789-1969
(UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223 C64 Pt. 14)

Iowa Documents

The library is a full depository for State of Iowa documents. Major Iowa documents such as the Code of Iowa, Iowa Official Register and Vital Statistics of Iowa are shelved in the library's Reference Collection. The Iowa Documents collection contains directories, research reports, newsletters, regulations, and pamphlets from about 120 Iowa agencies. The collection includes microfiche documents issued between 1979 and 1995. There are older and newer State of Iowa publications in the library's stacks that are listed on UNISTAR. A catalog and index of Iowa documents covering the years 1956-1992 is located at UNI Docs Index/Abstract Z 1223.5I6 I585.

Maps and Atlases

The Maps Collection contains over 40,000 maps, aerial photographs, and satellite images from both government and private sources. Some of the maps are listed on UNISTAR with the location UNI Map, but many can be identified only by looking in a card catalog located in the area adjacent to the collection. The library also has a collection of historical maps of Iowa. These are listed in the card catalog in the Documents & Maps area. The cabinet in which these are kept is locked. Please ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.

The Atlases Collection consists of general atlases as well as those that are subject-oriented or thematic. The atlases are found along the wall adjacent to the Maps Collection. They are listed on UNISTAR with the location of UNI Map Ref. Some atlases that may be of particular interest to people doing historical research are

Illustrated Historical Atlas of the State of Iowa, 1875
UNI Map Ref G 1430 .S1 A6 1970

The Historical Atlas of United States Congressional Districts 1789-1983
UNI Map Ref G 1201 .F9 M31982

There are also atlases in the UNI Reference, UNI Special Collections, and UNI Stacks collections of the library. These are listed on UNISTAR.

Government Information on the Internet

Governments of all types and levels are making information available to the public through the World Wide Web. Most of the resources are current rather than historical in nature, but here are a couple of sites that may be of particular relevance to those with interests in U.S. history.

American Memory Project (Library of Congress)

A-Z Index to the Library of Congress Web Site
Click on H to find the history sources.

In addition, one can access government information on the Internet from Rod Library's Home Page. Click on "Collections" and then on "Documents and Maps." From this page, it is possible to connect to government information from the U.S. government and the State of Iowa.

Federal Government Resources: Historic Documents
(University of Michigan)

This site includes some comprehensive sources as well as the full text of documents on more specific topics such as Salem Witchcraft, Love Canal, the Bay of Pigs, etc.

For additional information, see:

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