Government Documents
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(See separate page to find Congressional Records and earlier records of Congressional debates.)

Most U.S. government documents owned by the Law Library are housed on the north end of the lower level by SuDoc number (an alpha-numeric classification system that arranges materials by issuing agency). A significant number are also available on microfiche in the microform room, also on the library’s lower level.

Library Catalog. The Law Library shares a catalog with the Cowles Library that lists and briefly describes the items in our collection. In the search form box, the default should say “ALL” next to library. We recommend leaving this as is. When you find the item you want, click on the details button. Holdings will be separated by library. The catalog will indicate if an item is checked out, in which case you can ask Information Desk staff to place a hold on that title for you. If there is a message in the catalog you do not understand or you are having difficulty using it, please ask us for assistance. Cowles has also prepared some basic catalog instructions

University of Iowa catalog. The University of Iowa serves as the regional depository library for the state, which means they receive all U.S. government documents issued through the Federal Depository Library Program, and they catalog most documents in depth. Some government documents we own are not in our catalog. Sometimes if you search the Iowa catalog and check at the same SuDoc call number in our collection, you’ll find what you need at Drake.

GPO Fdsys (phasing in) and GPO Access (phasing out). Many government documents, especially more recent ones, can be accessed in PDF via GPO sites. Highlights include the Congressional Record bound (since 1999) and daily (since 1994) editions, select Congressional reports (since 1995), Congressional committee prints (since 1987) other Congressional documents (1795-1796, and since 1993), and federal agency publications. Another GPO source of note is The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, which indexes print and electronic publications produced by federal agencies. It may provide links to PDF documents or a SuDoc number that can be checked against our shelves (and drawers, in the case of microfiche). For pre-1994 indexing, see the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications, range 10 on the first floor at GP 3.8:

Serial Set/American State Papers. Preceded by the American State Papers (1789-1838), the United States Congressional Serial Set (1817-present) is comprised of the numbered Senate and House Documents and Senate and House Reports which are bound by Session of Congress and given a consecutive number. Beginning in 1979, it also includes Senate Executive Documents and Senate Executive Reports. If you find a reference to a Serial Set number when searching for a government document, you might be able to access that item at Drake:

The Serial Set collection available through LexisNexis Congressional includes PDF images of American State Paper items from 1789 to 1816 and Serial Set items from 1817 to 1969. Use the Search by Number tab to search by report number or Serial Set number. Use the Advanced Search tab to search by date, session of Congress, keyword, and other limiters. 

With some gaps, we also have Serial Set volumes 12542 to 14801 available in other formats:
12542 (88th Congress, 1st session, 1963) to 13216 (95 Congress, 2d session, 1978): in paper at range L-18 on the lower level.

13220 (96th Congress, 1st session, 1979) to 14801 (107th Congress, 2d session, 2002): in microfiche in the cabinets against the west wall of the microform room.

LexisNexis Congressional provides broad-based coverage of U.S. legislative information, including:
  • Congressional Information Service (CIS) indexing and abstracting of congressional publications and CIS legislative histories
  • Indexing and select full-text for congressional publications from 1789-1969
  • testimony transcripts (1988-present)
  • bill tracking
  • public laws and regulations
  • and more
See the content coverage chart for complete details. Even if the full-text is not available via LexisNexis Congressional, it still might provide a SuDoc or Serial Set number that can be used to obtain the item at Drake or via interlibrary loan.

THOMAS. The home page of the U.S. Congress, includes information about legislation, committees, legislative agencies and commissions, individual Representatives and Senators, treaties, and more. Information from earlier sessions of Congress is more limited. For example, THOMAS includes the Congressional Record and full text of legislation available from 1989 (101st Congress) to the present and summaries (not full text) of legislation available back to 1973 (93rd Congress).

LLMC Digital. This source includes a variety of government publications, including a selection of executive orders, federal agency decisions and reports, and more, viewable as PDF or TIFF files.

HeinOnline. HeinOnline provides comprehensive coverage of various research collections, including a treaties and agreements library, in an image-based fully-searchable format. For assistance, see the HeinOnline training materials or ask a reference librarian.

USAGov. This site allows you to search millions of web pages from federal and state governments, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The easy search box allows simultaneous searching of federal and all states’ pages or federal plus one state. Use the advanced search feature for more precise results. However, you cannot search multiple jurisdictions simultaneously in advanced search.

Frequently Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments.  The University of Minnesota Law Library created this list of treaties frequently cited in law journals that includes citation information, source information, and full-text links, where available. See also the Drake Law Library’s Treaties research guide.

Additional Government Information Resources can be identified using the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library's Government Information Guides.

Last Modified: 10/2/2009 9:10:00 AM by Karen Wallace