Using Government Documents
Government documents are mostly thought of as congressional hearings, reports issued by state and federal agencies and presidential papers. But in fact, the government publishes information on practically every conceivable topic you can imagine. The following titles provide an idea of the wide variety of topics:
- Neurobiology of Seasonal Affective Disorder and Phototherapy
- Ozone Depletion, the Greenhouse Effect, and Climate Change
- Placement of School Children with Acquired Immune Deficiency
- Policy Implications of U.S. Involvement in Bosnia
- Remove Indians Westward (Committee on Indian Affairs, 1829)
- Report of the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War (on the Battle of Bull Run, 1863)
- Small Business and the International Economy
- Strengthening Support and Recruitment of Women and Minorities to Positions in Education Administration
- Violence on Television
If you plan to use government documents in your research, don't be shy about asking a librarian for help. There are several indexes to government documents and most are electronically available. Among them:
- The Monthly Catalog of United States Government Documents is the most complete index to federal documents.
- The CIS Index specializes in congressional documents and includes a handy legislative history index.
- The American Statistical Index is a detailed index to statistical information found in government publications.
- The Congressional Record reports on the daily activity of the U.S Congress during each session.
Every year more and more electronic databases are created and released, making information, particularly statistical data, easier to access. For instance:
- Small-business statistics, the cost of pollution abatement programs, regional and state business conditions, and a wealth of other economic data will be found in The National Economic Social and Environmental Data Bank (NESE).
- Detailed population profile of your hometown, including age groups, income and education levels as well as ethnic origins can be found in the U.S. Census Report.