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Guide to U.S. Government Documents  

Access to information and documents created by the United States federal government.
Last Updated: Sep 17, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Howard-Tilton is a congressionally designated depository for U.S. government documents. Public access to the government documents collection is guaranteed by public law.
(44 U.S.C. § 1901)

Quick Search

The Howard-Tilton Library Catalog is a great finding tool for federal documents and provides direct links to those that are available online. Search by keyword, title, author (individual persons, committees, or agencies) or subject heading.

Popular Databases

  • Congressional
    Comprehensive collection of historic and current congressional information, including bills & laws, hearings, CRS reports, committee prints, reports, and the Congressional Record.
  • Fedsys  Icon
    Provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the Federal Government. Official search engine of the Government Printing Office (GPO).
  • HeinOnline
    Includes U.S. Supreme Court cases, executive and legislative documents, treaties, U.S. Code, federal and state statutes, and the full-text of over 650 law journals.
  • National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
    Central resource for government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business related information.
    Note: Does NOT provide full-text. Contact the Research Help Desk at if you need assistance locating a copy of a document found here.

Table of Contents

Use the menu tabs above, or the links below, to navigate this guide. Each branch of the federal government (legislative, executive, & judicial) has it's own page, as do collections of declassified documents, historical documents, and statistics & data.

  • Getting Started
    Orient yourself to the branches, departments, and agencies of the U.S. government. Guides, reference books, and government-wide search engines.
  • Article I: The Legislative Branch
    Track the work of the U.S. Congress, including bills, debates, hearings, committee prints, House & Senate reports, public laws, and the U.S. Code.
  • Article II: The Executive Branch
    Find presidential papers, executive orders, federal regulations, and information from the myriad federal agencies and commissions.
  • Article III: The Judicial Branch
    Navigate court cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, Appellate Courts, District Courts, State Courts, and more.
  • Declassified Documents
    Formerly classified because of their sensitive nature, such as those related to national security or presidential records, declassified documents are later made available to the public, usually through the formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request process.
  • Historical Documents
    Access to colonial documents and federal documents from the earliest days of the republic.
  • Maps
    Online maps generated by several federal agencies, including the USGS, Census, and CIA, as well as a collection of print maps available at Howard-Tilton.
  • Statistics & Data
    Portals to the hundreds of U.S. Government agencies and departments that publish their own official statistics and data sets.
  • How to Cite
    Guides to citing government documents.

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