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Historical Government Documents

STEP 1: Identify documents of interest based on topic of research

Either open the link below or go to the reference section to retrieve these books:


To search congressional or executive branch publications from the time range covered in this publication you can search by:


1.Subject:  The alphabetical subject index begins on page one of the publication in the center column.  To the left of the subject, you can find the author, agency, committee, or source of the publication. To the right side of the subject is information on how to access the publication, including classification, congress and session, document number, and length. 



We will use the "Kansas Indians, amended estimate for fulfilling treaty with" document as our example for steps 2 and 3 in the boxes below.  As such, I will take note of the type of document (House Executive Documents), the congress and session (49th congress, 2nd session), volume (20), and document number (29).



2. Author: An index to the author, agency, committee, or source (the left column of the subject index) can be found on page 1539.


STEP 2: Determine where the material is published

Since many of the documents provided in the Comprehensive index to the publications of the United States government are published in the the U.S. Serial Set, you should open the URL below or retrieve the following book from the reference shelves:


1. Go to the Congressional Tables (beginning on page 3) and find the congress and session of your document.  In our example, we go to the 49th congress, 2nd session.

2. Find the series associated with your document.  In our example, we look for House Executive Documents (or H. ex. docs)

3. Find the volume number associated with your document (where applicable).  In our example, we look for volume 20.  

4. Record the serial set number.  In our case, we write down 2479.

For items that do not provide congressional information, please talk with a librarian.

STEP 3: Find the full text document

While the library does not have physical volumes of the US Serial Set, a number of digitized copies are available, including:

For guidance on using the HathiTrust, see below:

1. After opening the HathiTrust link for the US Serial Set, click Control + F to search for the appropriate volume and open the full view link.  In our example, we searched for 2479.


2. Conduct a "search in this text" for a portion of the title of the document you wish to view.  In our example, we typed in Kansas.


3. Open the entry that looks relevant.  


4.  Now you can view the document.


Please ask a librarian for further assistance if you can not find the document for which you are looking.   Even if a digital copy is not available, the library can place an interlibrary loan request on your behalf.