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Finding Sources: in the Library and Online: Finding Gov't Documents

This guide shows students where to begin and provides them with resources for finding all types of information.

Branches of Government

Sites for the three primary branches of federal government:

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Texas Government

Curious about the state government's historical record? Having trouble finding information about the state? Look to the Texas State Library & Archives Comission!

Located at the state capital building in Austin, the State Library & Archives holds the Texas government's official archives and has a reference department that can help with your information needs. Their website offers online exhibits and information resources.


Resources from Texas State Government

Our state government has a number of websites where you can find information about state laws, bills, court decisions and more. If you're looking for basic information on state agencies and services, the best place to start is

Texas Legislature Online
The state legislature's website has a simple search function on its homepage where you can search for bills based on their bill number or a keyword search. You can also view video broadcasts from hearings, find session calendars, and more.

Texas Courts Online
Search for state-level court cases and learn about the structure of the Texas judicial system.

Office of the Governor
Find news about the governor's initiatives and contact information.

Image courtesy of Texas Legislature Online,

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that covers politics, public policy, and government in Texas.

The Texas Tribune website serves as an online newspaper where you can find articles and information on these topics.

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Government databases

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has an online database called FDSys, where you can easily search for government documents:

Finding government documents can be tricky, and luckily, FDSys has some features that make it easier to search. Look for "Advanced Search", "Retrieve by Citation," and "Help" on the side of the basic search box on the home page:

You can also browse publications by collection type here.

THOMAS is a database of legislative information, including current bills in Congress. THOMAS is part of the Library of Congress, and offers several browse and search options from its home page:


The GPO has designated two libraries per state to serve as repositories for printed and electronic federal government documents. The Perry-Castaneda Library (PCL) at the University of Texas at Austin is the closest federal government repository library.

You can search for government documents in the UT Libraries Catalog using the US Document Number search option:

A nonprofit that uses open-source software to make information about what's going on in Congress accessible and transparent for the average U.S. citizen. A great resource to find out what's really going on!

Launched in 2004, was the first website worldwide whose primary goal was to provide free comprehensive legislative tracking for everyday citizens and to embrace Web 2.0 and open data for government information. Includes:

  • status of legislation
  • voting records of Senators and Representatives
  • district maps
  • Congressional committees
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Military Information

  • American Memory: War and Military*
    Collections from the Library of Congress.
  • De Re Militari*
    Primary (and secondary) sources on medieval and renaissance military history. Includes the Crusades, Hundred Years' War, Anglo-Norman Warfare, and the Vikings and Norse.
  • Documents in Military History
    Focused primarily on European military history before the twentieth century. Covers ancient and medieval history; the Renaissance; French and American revolutions; Mexican-American War; World War I and several additional conflicts.
  • Internet History Sourcebooks*
    The Internet History Sourcebooks are collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts. Topics include Ancient, Medieval and Modern histories.
  • Korea +50: No Longer Forgotten*
    Provides access to Korean War materials from the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.
  • Mexican-American War: Primary Sources
    Texts and images related to the war (1846-1848).
  • Obee's History Pages*
    A selection of primary documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Topics addressed include industrialization and urbanization; the international scene; the great powers, 1860-1918; and the era of dictators.
  • Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures
    A collection of 68 motion pictures, produced between 1898-1901, of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution.
  • U.S. Army Heritage Collection Online
    Excellent collection of texts, photos, digitized images of military artifacts, and military publications. Material dates from the mid-1800s. Includes 23,000 photographs from the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS) from the Massachusetts Commandery, considered the single best Civil War photo collection in the world.
  • World of 1898: The Spanish-American War
    Information about Cuba, Guam, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Spain, and the United States is provided in chronologies, bibliographies, and a variety of pictorial and textual material from bilingual sources.
  • American Civil War Collection*
    Letters, diaries and newspapers of the Civil War.
  • American Civil War Homepage
    For primary sources, see especially links under "Images of Wartime," "Documentary Records" and "Rosters and Regimental Histories."
  • American Civil War: Letters and Diaries [UCSD Only]
    Contains 100,000 pages of letters, diaries and memoirs written 1861-65, by more than 2000 authors.
  • Civil War Documents
    Includes official records of the Union and Confederate Navies, as well as reports and correspondence of the War of the Rebellion.
  • Civil War Women
    Letters and memoirs of three women: a secessionist, a Union supporter, and a schoolgirl whose hometown of Gallatin Tennessee was occupied by Union soldiers.
  • The Crisis of the Union
    "Documents about the causes, conduct and consequences of the U.S. civil war. " Addresses political, economic, social, religious, racial and gender issues.
  • eHistory at OSU*
    A selection of letters & diaries; historical texts and documents; oral histories; photographs & maps. Also includes the Official Records of the U.S. Civil War.
  • Reconstruction: the Second Civil War
    A small selection of texts that document the new realities post-Civil War.
  • Selected Civil War Photographs*
    This collection contains 1118 photographs. Images include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and battle after-effects. The collection also includes portraits of both Confederate and Union officers, and a selection of enlisted men.
  • Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
    Histories of two communities on either side of the Mason-Dixon line. Includes an electronic archives of the sources on which the narrative is based: maps & images, church records, military records, letters & diaries, newspapers and public records.
    A collection of primary documents that mark the course of the war. Included are archive documents signed in the late 1830s which bore relevance to the outbreak of war some 75 years later, as well as memos, letters, treaties and the text of speeches throughout the war and beyond.
  • League of Nations Photo Archive
    The League of Nations was established after WWI to promote international co-operation and to achieve international peace and security. This collection includes photos of individuals and groups associated with the League.
  • League of Nations: Statistical and Disarmament Documents
    This collection contains the full text of 260 League of Nations document, with a focus on three areas: the founding of the League, international statistics published by the League, and the League's work toward international disarmament.
  • Propaganda Postcards of the Great War
    The site features a collection of war-themed postal cards produced during World War 1 (1914-1919).
  • The Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers' Newspaper of World War I*
    The newspaper's mission was to provide scattered troops with a sense of unity and an understanding of their part in the overall war effort. Date coverage is February 8, 1918, to June 13, 1919.
  • A Summons to Comradeship: World War I and II Posters and Postcards
    Posters from government, commercial and charitable organizations. Subject matter is diverse, covering such topics as military recruitment, rationing, films/theatre, anti-war movements and many others.
  • War on the Walls: Posters from the George F. Tyler WWI Collection
    Selection of World War I posters that demonstrate how Allied forces used propaganda to enlist support for the war effort.
  • World War I Collection
    "Provides a sampling of UW-Madison's World War I Special Collection...Most of these materials were acquired by the University during or in the immediate aftermath of the war and they represent a direct and often very passionate or partisan viewpoint of that conflict."
  • World War I Document Archive*
    Contains full text, images, biographies, personal reminiscences and links to other web resources.
  • World War I Postcards from the Bowman Gray Collection
    Features a collection of war-themed cards produced in Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and the U.S. during World War One (1914-1918).
  • Vietnam Center and Archive
    Over 2.7 million pages of scanned materials: documents, photographs, slides, negatives, oral histories, artifacts, moving images, sound recordings, maps and collection finding aids.
  • Vietnam Project : The Oral History Project
    "The mission of the OHP is to create and preserve a more complete record of the wars in Southeast Asia by preserving, through recorded interviews, the recollections and experiences of all who were involved in those wars."
  • Virtual Vietnam Archive
    Contains over 1.5 million pages of materials, including documents, photographs, slides, negatives, audio and moving image recordings, artifacts and oral histories. New items added daily.
  • Berlin Airlift*
    Collection of documents and photos focused on the Berlin Airlift. Covers the years 1948-1952.
  • Cold War Files
    Offers many types of primary sources related to the Cold War, with dates covering 1945-1990.
  • Cold War International History Project
    The Virtual Archive presents a subject-oriented list of links. Especially useful are the links to a specific country's experience in the Cold War (e.g. "North Korea in the Cold War").
  • Nevada Test Site Oral History Project
    Documents the remembered past of persons affiliated with and affected by the Nevada Test Site during Cold War nuclear testing. Transcripts, selected audio and video, photographs and images.
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