History Primary Sources: Government Documents

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U.S. Census

U.S. Congressional Documents

Use the link to ProQuest Congressional below and follow these steps:

  1. On the left under Congressional Publications click on Advanced Search.
  2. In the middle of the screen to the right of Search Within click on Clear All.
  3. Click in the check box for Hearings.
  4. In the top search window enter your country, such as China.
  5. Select a Date: scroll down until you see Date, and click in the radio button to the left. Then click on the dropdown arrow to the right of the search box under Date and select a time period in which you are interested.  If you select Prior to 1970, you are searching all years back to 1824. This search--on China and Prior to 1970--results in 448 hits. If you want to be more restrictive, add another term in the second search window, such as boxer*. The asterisk gets you the singular and plural.  This search--on China and Prior to 1970 and boxer*--results in 7 hits. If you want to use narrower date ranges go to step 6.
  6. Find Congress below Date and click on the radio button to the left. Click on the dropdown arrow to the right of the search window below and select a Congress that covers at least part of the time period in which you are interested. In other words, you have to search 2 years at a time.

U.S. Declassified Documents Online

 Most of the documents in this database were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Most of them cover American history since World War II.  To get started follow these steps, but take time to explore the many other search options:

1. In the first search window enter China and click on Search. This will produce over 5,000. You can order them by Date or Relevance. The latter uses an algorithm to measure the extent to which the document deals with the search term. To use this option click on the dropdown arrow to the right of Date Issued.

2. To restrict your results add another term in the second window, such as Vietnam. That search--on China and Vietnam--produces over 800 hits. Add other terms to limit your results further.

U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports

 This database contains radio broadcasts, newspaper articles, and other documents of interest to the U.S. government from countries around the world. The time period covers 1941 to 1996, and the documents are translated from numerous foreign languages. They appear here in typescript. Use the interface to limit by country or event, or simply search the full-text of all the transcripts using keywords.

Find Gov Docs in Print Using MARQCAT and WorldCat

Modify this example to meet your needs.

Use MARQCAT Advanced Keyword Search to locate federal documents in our collection; follow the steps below. 

  1. Change the search location from Any Field to Author in the first row.  Then enter: united states in the Keyword box.
  2. Change the search location to Subject in the second row;  enter:  morocco.  in Keyword box. Click Search. Use the date limits or add subject terms to limit your search. 

The same steps work in WorldCat, the largest online library catalog available.  In WorldCat you will get any federal government document cataloged by libraries around the world.