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Research Guide: Political Science

Background Information

The federal government, through its various agencies and branches  produces a vast quantity of information on practically any subject.  Many of these publications are distributed by the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) to depository libraries across the country.  The Federal Depository Library Program ( FDLP)  was established by Congress to ensure that the American public has access to its Government's information. This program involves the acquisition, format conversion, and distribution of depository materials and the coordination of Federal depository libraries in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. The mission of the  FDLP is to disseminate information products from all three branches of the Government to nearly 1,300 libraries nationwide. Libraries that have been designated as Federal depositories maintain these information products as part of their existing collections and are responsible for assuring that the public has free access to the material provided by the  FDLP.  Weber State University's Stewart Library is a selective government depository, selecting approximately 45% of the documents available.  University of Utah , BYU and USU are other depository libraries in the area.  Utah State University Library is the regional depository for the  FDLP and therefore selects 100% of the available documents. 

Government Documents are arranged by the  Superintendent of Documents Classification Number.  Publications are grouped together by the issuing agency.

Important Documents

Federal Register  - Federal Register (FR) lists U.S. federal agency announcements and information, such as presidential documents, agency meetings, grant opportunities, and proposed federal regulations. The GPO publishes a new edition of the Federal Register every business day,

Code of Federal Regulations - The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.  The  CFR is divided into 50 titles which represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. Each title is divided into chapters which usually bear the name of the issuing agency. 

Statutes At Large -   AE 2.111 - The United States Statutes at Large, commonly referred to as the Statutes at Large is the official source for the laws and resolutions passed by Congress.

U.S. Code -  Y 1.2/5: Finally, the law is codified in the United States Code. The codification process involves collating the original law and all subsequent amendments. It brings all laws on the same subject together and eliminates all repealed, superseded, or expired laws. The U.S. Code includes all of the general and permanent laws of the United States. The U.S. Code is arranged by subject into 50 titles  and is fully revised every six years. Between revisions, annual cumulative supplements are issued. It is important to note that the U.S. Code is composed only of those laws currently in effect.

Public Papers of the President  AE 2.114 -  A "cumulated annual volume of presidential messages, transcripts, and public speeches and statements". Some proclamations, executive orders, and similar documents are not  included, but reference to their inclusion in the Federal Register, Code of Federal  Regulations, and Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents is made. At the present  time, coverage of Presidents' statements extends back to the Hoover administration  (1929). 

Core Documents of U.S. Democracy - From GPO Access

U.S. Reports -  JU 6.8:  Supreme Court Cases

Finding Books & Documents

Use the WSU online catalog to find location and availability of documents, CDs  and other media in Stewart Library  The Online Catalog lists many, but not all, government publications available at WSU.

To find documents not in the catalog, use   the Catalog of U.S. Govt. Publications , an  index  to government documents from  GPO Access. This database indexes government documents since 1976. 

To locate older documents use the print version of the  Monthly Catalog,  located in Government Document Reference, 1st Floor North  -  GP 3.8.  Many of the documents are found in the Microforms area of the library located in Microforms - 1st Floor South. 

Reference Table 2A contains many finding aids and information about government documents.

Print Indexes to Federal Documents

  • Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications  1900-1971   GP 3.8/7: Government Documents Reference.

  • Subject Guide to U.S. Government Reference Sources  Z 1223.Z7R63 - Reference Table 2A.

  • List of Classes  The List of Classes is the official listing of publications available for selection by depository libraries participating in the Federal Depository Library Program.  GP 3.24:  The  most recent edition is located on Reference Table 2A.

  • U.S. Serial Set Index 1789-1969  Index to  Congressional and department reports. J  74.C5 - Government Document Reference

  • Cumulative Title Index to United States Public Documents 1789 - 1976.  J 83.C7 -Government Document Reference

  • Guide to U.S. Government Publications  Z 1223.Z7 A574  -  Reference Table 2A.

  • Using Government Information Sources J 83.S4 - Reference Table 2A.  "A guide to basic government information sources used for answering reference questions. Separate chapters cover search strategies and basic searching; specific topics such as, foreign countries, climate, elections, maps, education, and legislative histories; agency searches; and various types of statistical searches."

Finding Articles & Documents

Google Government Search   Use this search engine to find documents of all types on the internet.  This searches federal, state & city sites.  One stop guide to all government web sites.

Government Databases

Commercial Databases


Academic Search Elite  Multidisciplinary database.  Full text articles from many sources.

JSTOR  -  A collection of major political science journals in full text.  Usually from their beginnings to 3 - 4 years ago.

Project Muse   - Full text of recent articles for World Politics, Journal of Democracy and other related journals.

Lexis-Nexis  - Full text of news, business & legal information from over 6,000 sources.

Social Sciences Abstracts  - Coverage includes a wide range of interdisciplinary fields covered in of social sciences journals. 

Agencies  -  Online links to popular agencies.  Use Google Government Search to find agencies not listed here.

Facts & Figures

Statistical Abstract of the United States -  Since 1878, the Statistical Abstract has been the single most authoritative source of facts about the people, institutions  and economy of the country. This is a publication of the Census Bureau and is compiled from government and private sources and is an excellent place to start when looking for statistics. This is an annual and covers a broad range of topics, mostly United States, but includes some international. Most recent edition is located at the Reference Desk. Older editions in Government Documents - AE 2.108/2.  Online   from 1878.

Historical Statistics of the United States - Social, economic, political and geographic development from colonial times to 1970. Data after 1970 can be found in the Statistical Abstract, which includes an historical appendix linking the historical series to specific tables in Statistical Abstract. C 3.134/2:H 62/789-970. Reference Table 5B. 


Historical Statistics of the United States - Millennial Edition  contains more than 37,000 annual time series of quantitative historical information covering virtually every quantifiable dimension of American history: population, work and welfare, economic structure and performance, governance, and international relations, all from the earliest times to the present.   Online

U.S. Census Bureau Home Page

American Factfinder The American Factfinder is the Census Bureau's primary vehicle for distributing:2000 Census of Population and Housing, 1997 Economic Census, American Community Survey, 1990 Census of Population and Housing. You can use American FactFinder to find statistics about population, housing, industry and business.

American Community Survey  " The American Community Survey is a new nationwide survey designed to provide communities a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's reengineered 2010 census plan. "

United States Historical Census Browser - From the University of Virginia which presents data on the people and the economy of the United States from 1700 to 1960.

Statistics Guide 


CIS Congressional Universe  - full-text of proposed legislation and status, legislative histories, congressional committee information, campaign contributions and PAC activities, articles from" National Journal" and more. 

Thomas  A full-text database which includes major legislation (by bill number, subject, and title), bills (full text, summaries, and status), public laws, the Annals of Congress, the Congressional Record and the Congressional Record Index, roll call votes, Congressional committee reports, historical documents, and information about the legislative process. Years: Bill Summary & Status and Public Laws: 1973-present; Bill Text, Roll Call Votes, Congressional Record: 101st Congress (1989-1990) - present; Major  Legislation, Committee Reports: 104th Congress (1995-96) - present.

Office of the Clerk - House of Representatives   On-line Information Center. At this site, you can obtain copies of House documents, including public disclosure forms, made available by the Clerk as part of his official duties. You can also find historical information about the House of
Representatives and information about its Members and Committees. - is a free, public service of Capitol Advantage.

Congressional Record  -  The Congressional Record is the most widely recognized published account of the debates, proceedings, and activities of the United States Congress.  Congressional Record--printed by the Government Printing Office on a daily, over-night basis, and after a session is over in bound form--is widely considered to be an essential, full record of legislative proceedings. 


Politics & Election Guide

Political Science Resources from University of Michigan Government Document Center

Project Vote Smart 

Political Parties - links from University of Michigan Document Center

Voting and Registration Data - from the U.S. Census


Polls & Public Opinion


State Political Information

Utah Print Resources

Statistical Abstract of Utah HA 661.S 723 - Most recent edition is located at the Reference Desk.

Utah Facts Utah Facts discusses issues such as tax rates, utility costs, transportation, education systems, cost of living and quality of life. HA 663.U82 Reference  Collection. Utah Facts 2004 2006 Online

State & Local Government in Utah Contains a description of the structure, operation, function, and finances of state and local government in Utah - their departments, commissions and agencies. JK 8425 1992.U8 - Reference.

Updated May 9, 2008 . Please send comments to Lonna Rivera
Weber State University, Stewart Library. Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.

Stewart Library - Weber State University - Ogden, Utah 84408. (801) 626-6403 - Copyright © 2008 ALL Rights Reserved