Primary Sources are materials created at the time of an event or at a later date by participants in the event. In addition to newspapers, diaries, autobiographies, memoires, and oral histories, government documents provide first hand testimony of many events and issues. United States documents produced by government agencies such as congressional documents, agency annual reports, and administrative reports are primary resources and provide a wealth of information about the history of the United States.
For any research that relates to the workings of governments, government documents are indispensable. Examples of primary sources include congressional hearings with testimony from various participants, laws, agency reports, congressional committee reports or investigations.
Major sources for U.S. Government primary sources include the following, but are also listed on tabs on this guide. Resources such as the Foreign Relations of the United States, Presidential Papers, and more would be primary sources.
- Digital National Security Archive (DNSA)
The Digital National Security Archive contains the most comprehensive set of declassified government documents available. The resource now includes 34 collections consisting of over 80,000 meticulously indexed documents, with more than 500,000 total pages. Each of these collections, compiled by top scholars and experts, exhaustively covers the most critical world events, countries, and U.S. policy decisions from post World War II through the 21st century. Together, these collections offer unparalleled access to the defining international strategies of our time. Glossaries, chronologies, bibliographies, overviews, and photographs are included.
- Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports 1941-1996
The Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) is a United States government agency which monitors and translates current news and commentary from foreign political speeches, radio and television broadcasts, news agency transmissions, newspapers, and periodicals. These translations, or transcriptions in the case of English language materials, make up the Daily Reports; dates are 1941-1996. The UCD subscription includes Part 1: Middle East, Africa, Near East and South Asia (MEA, NES); Part 2: Sub-Saharan Africa & South Asia (SSA, SAF, AFR, SAS); Part 3: China (CHI); Part 4: Asia, Pacific and East Asia (APA, EAS); Part 5: Latin America (LAT, LAM); Part 6: Eastern Europe (EEU); Part 7: Soviet Union and Central Eurasia (SOV); Part 8: Western European regional broadcasts; FBIS annexes are excluded.
- Foreign Relations of the United States
The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series, which is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian, began in 1861 and now comprises more than 450 individual volumes. The volumes published over the last two decades increasingly contain declassified records from all the foreign affairs agencies. All volumes have not yet been digitized by the State Dept. - check next link.
Also in print: Shields Library JX233 .A3
- Foreign Relations of the United States
FRUS 1861-1958/1960 digitized by University of Wisconsin.
- Proquest Congressional (formerly LexisNexis Congressional)
Includes full text, and index, of U.S. congressional committee hearings from 1824-1979; and selected transcripts 1988 to present; Index to Serial Set and American State Papers 1789-1969; Index to House & Senate documents, committee prints, and hearings 1817 to present.
- U.S. Congressional Serial Set [via NewsBank]
U.S. Congressional Serial Set [via NewsBank]
The Readex/Newsbank U.S. Congressional Serial Set (1817-1980) has full text Congressional committee reports and documents originally published in the Serial Set from the 15th through the 96th Congresses, 1817-1980. Also includes the American State Papers (a retrospective collection of materials originating from 1789 through 1838 but published in the second quarter of the 19th century). The U.S. Congressional Serial Set is the bound, sequentially numbered set of volumes of all the Reports, Documents and Journals of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Many early agency reports were published originally in congressional editions. The Serial Set constitutes an incomparably rich collection of primary source material on all aspects of American history and government.
Coverage: 1817-1980, with American State Papers 1789-1838
- U.S. Declassified Documents Online
U.S. Declassified Documents Online is the most comprehensive compilation of declassified documents from the executive branch. The types of materials include intelligence studies, policy papers, diplomatic correspondence, cabinet meeting minutes, briefing materials, and domestic surveillance and military reports. The collection editors have actively monitored the release of formerly classified documents from presidential libraries. They have also added numerous major releases of declassified documents from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other executive agencies.