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Government Documents

A basic introductory guide on locating federal, state, and local government documents.

Last updated June 12, 2019

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Government documents include any publication issued by government agencies. These documents can be incredibly helpful when conducting legal research, and you may need access to government documents to compile legislative histories, verify information, or fulfill other research needs.

The Federal Depository Library Program was established in the mid-1800s to collect, organize, and preserve information published by the federal government in all formats including print, microform, maps, CD-ROMs, and electronic information via the Internet. There are more than 1,140 depository libraries in the United States and its territories to serve the public. Go to the Federal Depository Library Directory to locate libraries in your area. Please note that the George Mason University Law Library is no longer a member of the depository program.

Government publications are becoming increasingly available in digital form over the Internet. The links within this guide are designed to assist in finding typically requested government information. For more comprehensive lists and links to publications, see the Government Publishing Office's website govinfo or the University of Virginia Library's How Do I Find Government Information.


President Roosevelt signs Child Health Day Proclamation, Washington, D.C. April 9.
Harris & Ewing, President signs Child Health Day Proclamation, Washington, D.C. April 9. President Roosevelt signing a proclamation today making May 1 Child Health Day. The date was originally set aside by Congress when they passed a Child Health Act in 1928. The slogan adopted for this year is 'Health Protection for Every Child.' In the photograph, l to r: Miss Katherine [i.e. Katharine] Lenroot, Director of the U.S. Children's Bureau; President Roosevelt; and Dr. Earle G. Brown, President of State and Provincial Authorities of North America. April 9, 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.