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.
UVM Libraries Research Guides banner

Government Information (United States)

A guide to finding and using information published by the three branches of the U.S. government.

What Do You Want to Find? -- Research Pathways

FOLLOW THE STEPS IN THE FLOWCHART BELOW

Links to the online resources listed in the flowchart:

Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, 1895-1976
CatQuest
HathiTrust
Library Catalog
WorldCat

Printable PDF version of this flowchart.

Image of a flowchart showing how to find a known item. Contact the Howe Library Reference Desk for more details.

NOTE: After you have identified titles of interest using the options below, locate the full text by following the instructions above for finding a known item.

OPTION 1: VISIT usa.gov, an official online guide to U.S. government information and services, for links to timely information.


OPTION 2: TO IDENTIFY INFORMATION PUBLISHED BEFORE 1976

Search in:
Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, 1895-1976
HathiTrust
WorldCat (does not contain UVM's government information holdings)
Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789 - 1909
Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States, September 5, 1774 - March 4, 1881

Consult print sources:
Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications, 1900-1971
SuDoc call number: Z1223 .A182 (Government Information reference shelf, ground floor of Howe Library)

Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications, 1885-1976
SuDoc call number: GP3.8 (Government Information reference shelf, ground floor of Howe Library)

OPTION 3: TO IDENTIFY INFORMATION PUBLISHED 1976 OR LATER

Do keyword searches in:
CatQuest (after searching, use "location" facet to narrow results to government information)
Classic Library Catalog (searches UVM holdings only; use "Guided Keyword" search and use the "location" limit to narrow search to government information)
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
FOLLOW THE STEPS IN THE FLOWCHART BELOW

IMPORTANT!
First consult secondary sources--especially CQ Almanac (annual) and CQ Magazine (for current legislation)--to get numbers for bills and laws.

Links to the online resources listed in the flowchart:
ProQuest Congressional
Congress.gov

Printable PDF version of this flowchart.

Image of a flowchart showing steps in finding legislative histories. Contact the Howe Library Reference Desk for more details.

STEP 1: GET SUDOC NUMBER FOR HEARING

For hearings before 1976:
Search title in ProQuest Congressional
For hearings 1976 to present:
Search title in CatQuest or Library Catalog (record may have link to online document)

STEP 2: FIND FULL TEXT

For hearings before 2004:
Check HathiTrust
For hearings approximately 2004 to present, check:
1. online links in congress.gov
2.
Google
3. WorldCat
For hearings 2016 or earlier:
Check shelves for print copy (Government Information, ground floor of Howe Library)

STEP 1: USE SECONDARY SOURCES TO IDENTIFY DATE(S) OF DEBATE AND CHAMBER (House or Senate)

CQ Almanac
ProQuest Congressional Search in the "Legislative Histories" section on the left.

STEP 2: LOOK UNDER APPROPRIATE DATE(S) IN:

Print copies of Congressional Record (Government Information, ground floor of Howe Library)
congress.gov
Congressional Record database
FOLLOW THE STEPS IN THE FLOWCHART BELOW

IMPORTANT!
It may be helpful to consult secondary sources first to get numbers for reports, especially CQ Almanac (annual) and CQ Magazine (for current legislation).

Links to the online resources listed in the flowchart:
CatQuest
Library Catalog
ProQuest Congressional
congress.gov
Google
U.S. Congressional Serial Set database

Printable PDF version of this flowchart.

Image of a flowchart showing how to find congressional reports and documents. Contact the Howe Library Reference Desk for more details.

CONSULT BOTH OF THE FOLLOWING to get laws passed by the legislative branch AND regulations established by the executive branch:

United States Code
The codification of the general and permanent laws of the United States, divided into 53 titles (broad subject areas). The U.S. Code does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies (see Code of Federal Regulations below for these), treaties, or laws enacted by state or local governments. (The United States Code Annotated contains annotations and is available on Westlaw and Nexis Uni.)

Code of Federal Regulations
The codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.
"CENSUS" DEFINED: An official, periodic enumeration of a population.

The U.S. government collects data through several different census programs:
  • Decennial Census of Population and Housing
  • American Community Survey
  • Economic Census
  • Census of Agriculture
  • Census of Governments

FIRST, TRY THESE TOOLS

These three sources contain data from the Census Bureau and may have what you need:

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States
A subscription e-book containing thousands of data tables from a variety of sources.

Social Explorer
A subscription database of historical and contemporary Census data.

CensusScope
An easy-to-use tool for investigating U.S. demographic trends, maintained by the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN) at the University of Michigan.

NEXT, CONSULT THIS SOURCE:

Topics
A Census Bureau website providing data on 18 topics and themes.

TO DIVE DEEPER, CONSULT THESE SOURCES:

data.census.gov
A Census Bureau portal providing access to data from Decennial Census of Population and Housing (conducted every 10 years), American Community Survey (conducted on an ongoing basis), Economic Census, and Census of Governments, dating back to 2000. This replaced American FactFinder.

Census of Agriculture
Enumerates U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them, including small plots of land, whether rural or urban; conducted every five years in years ending in "2" and "7."

Census of Governments
Covers all state and local governments in the United States; conducted every five years in years ending in "2" and "7."

Economic Census
Enumerates data about businesses and employees; conducted every five years in years ending in "2" and "7."
START HERE
Begin by consulting ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States.

A subscription e-book containing thousands of data tables from a variety of sources. Once you've located a relevant table, check the source notes at the bottom for leads to additional data.

Online subscription covers 2013-present.



FOR HISTORICAL DATA, CONSULT:
Previous editions of Statistical Abstract of the United States

Annual print volumes covering 1973 - 2012 are shelved in Government Information on the ground floor of the Howe Library, aisle 71.
Annual print volumes covering 1878 - 1883, 1885 - 1926, and 1928 - 2012 are shelved in the main Reference stacks on the main floor of the Howe Library at call number HA202.A1.

Use the index in the back of the book to locate relevant tables. (Note that the numbers in the index are table numbers, NOT page numbers.) Once you've located a relevant table, check the source notes at the bottom for leads to additional data.


Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970.
Includes more than 12,500 time series, mostly annual, providing a statistical history of U.S. social, economic, political, and geographic development during periods from 1610 to 1970.


FOR RECENT DATA, CONSULT:
Data and Statistics about the U.S.
This U.S. government website provides links to U.S. Census data and to a host of federal agency programs that collect, analyze, and disseminate statistical data.
CONSULT THIS SOURCE:

Foreign Relations of the United States
The series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. You can search within the volumes, or browse volume titles by administration from Abraham Lincoln through William Clinton. Online access provided by the Department of State, Office of the Historian.

Print volumes covering the years 1864-1984 are shelved in Government Information on the ground floor of the Howe Library, aisle 91.
CONSULT THE SOURCES BELOW

IMPORTANT!
It's helpful to begin by searching secondary legal sources such as articles, books, and websites for citations to court cases before consulting the primary sources listed below. A citation to a decision usually includes four elements. For example-- 467 U.S. 837 (1984)--"467" indicates the volume of the publication in which the case is reported, "U.S." is the abbreviation for the publication in which it was reported (in this example, United States Reports), "837" indicates the initial page number of the case, and "1984" indicates the year the case was decided.

FEDERAL DISTRICT COURTS
Federal Supplement (F. Supp., F.Supp.2d)
Contains decisions of the federal district courts. The decisions can be located using Westlaw or Nexis Uni.

UNITED STATES COURTS OF APPEAL
Federal Reporter (F., F.2d, F.3d)
Contains decisions of the United States courts of appeal. The decisions can be located using Westlaw or Nexis Uni.

SUPREME COURT
United States Reports (U.S.)
Contains decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Print volumes available at SuDoc call number JU 6.8 (Government Information, ground floor of the Howe Library, aisles 58-59)

Online volumes available at the Supreme Court website: U.S. Reports, 1991 (volume 502) - 2014 (volume 577). "Slip," or preliminary opinions which have not yet been published in U.S. Reports are available at the Supreme Court website: Opinions of the Court, 2014-present.

Early reports of U.S. Supreme Court decisions were named for the clerk who compiled them. U.S. Reports includes the content from these nominative reporters. You can translate a citation from a nominative reporter to a volume of the U.S. Reports by using this website: Early US Reports citation conversion

CONSULT THE FOLLOWING:

Code of Federal Regulations
Consult Title 3, The President, to find recent material. This is the first publication in which presidential documents appear, before they are published in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (see below).

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States
Includes such documents as speeches, bill signings and vetoes, executive orders, proclamations, messages to Congress, and more.

Print volumes of the series are available in Government Information, ground floor of the Howe Library, aisle 58.

The Public Papers series covers the administrations of Presidents Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. The papers of President Franklin Roosevelt were published privately before the commencement of the official Public Papers series and are available in a 13-volume set, Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the main stacks of the Howe Library, second floor, at call number E806.R749.

American Presidency Project
A collection of published presidential documents, arranged topically (e.g., state of the union addresses, inaugural addresses, signing statements). Prepared by the University of California Santa Barbara.

Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders
An editorial codification providing in one convenient reference source proclamations and executive orders with general applicability and continuing effect. This codification covers the period April 13, 1945, through January 20, 1989. Not intended to be used as a definitive legal authority. Prepared by the National Archives and Records Administration.
CONSULT THE FOLLOWING:

"Technical Reports" section of the Engineering research guide on the Howe Library website:
https://researchguides.uvm.edu/engineering/techreports
CONSULT THE FOLLOWING:

Howe Library's Patents and Trademarks research guide:
https://researchguides.uvm.edu/patentsandtrademarks