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Primary Sources in Government Documents  

Last Updated: Aug 27, 2012 URL: http://research.northern.edu/primary_gov Print Guide RSS Updates

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Government Documents online

This guide is intended to serve researchers wishing to review primary sources (firsthand information or original data on a topic).  Researchers will find a wealth of primary source material in government documents.

Listed below are web sites that link to documents and other materials from the earliest days of our democracy to the present.

  • A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1873
    Features the text of documents, journals, and debates of the Continental and Federal Congress from 1774 to 1875.
  • American Memory from the Library of Congress
    Gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.
  • National Security Archive
    Housed at George Washington University, this independent institute/library focuses on collection and publication of declassified government documents obtained via the Freedom of Information act.
  • Charters of Freedom - The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights
    Includes images and texts of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
  • CIA FOIA - Overview
    The CIA has established this site to provide the public with an overview of access to CIA information, including electronic access to previously released documents.
  • Core Documents of U.S. Democracy
    Core group of current and historical government publications. Includes cornerstone documents like the Bill of Rights, presidential inauguration speeches, Congressional bills, Supreme Court decisions, regulations, and economic data.
  • Documents from the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789 - (American Memory from the Library of Congress)
    Contains documents relating to the work of Congress and the drafting and ratification of the Constitution. Items include extracts of the journals of Congress, resolutions, proclamations, committee reports, treaties, and early printed versions of the United States Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
  • For Educators and Students
    NARA site that contains reproducible copies of primary documents from the holdings of the National Archives of the United States, teaching activities correlated to the National History Standards and National Standards for Civics and Government, and cross-curricular connections.
  • National Archives and Records Administration
    The National Archives of the United States reflect and record more than 200 years of American development. Records in the National Archives document the government's policies, define how those policies are carried out, and offer insights into the experiences of individual Americans.
  • Our Documents - 100 Milestone Documents
    Access to 100 milestone documents compiled by the National Archives and Records Administration. The documents chronicle United States history from 1776 to 1965.
  • Our Documents
    Features 100 milestone documents of American history from the National Archives. Includes images of original primary source documents, lesson plans, competitions, and educational resources.
  • Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Search
    Published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) as the official publication of United States Presidents' public writings, addresses, and remarks.
  • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents
    Published every Monday as the official publication of presidential statements, messages, remarks, and other materials released by the White House Press Secretary. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents first began in 1965 and is available through this link from 1993 forward.

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