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Government Information

Tips and links to government resources in a variety of subjects

Typical Search Strategies

Finding government documents presents challenges not often associated with finding information in other parts of the library. One way of improving success rates is to take a few moments to develop a plan based on the kind of information needed. The outline below provides possible strategies depending on whether the information needed is miscellaneous (it doesn't fit in any of the other categories), generally:

  • Statistical information
  • Census information
  • Legislative information
  • Judicial information.

Decide what category best fits your needs, and try the suggestions listed there. If you don't find what you need, ask for assistance at the Reference Desk (contact information listed on the library home page).

Miscellaneous Information

This category of information includes whatever doesn't seem to fit in any of the other categories. Begin your search using these tools:

  • The online catalog for most things received since November 1993
  • Catalog of U.S. Government Publications for materials published since 1976
  • FDSys for Congressional materials
  • WorldCat available from FirstSearch for materials previous to 1976 
  • Search government web sites
  • Monthly Catalog for materials published since 1900 (Government Documents Reference Collection)

Statistical Information

This category covers a lot of territory (including Census information, but for guidance there, see the next section of this page). The federal government is particularly adept at collecting statistical information. The suggestions below are a starting point. For additional suggestions, please ask for assistance at the Reference Desk.

  • Statistical Abstract of the United States (1789-2012)
    National Data Book containing a collection of statistics on social and economic conditions in the United States as well as selected international data. (Historical data is added as completed). 
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States (2013-present) Current version. Access is limited to UCM students, faculty, and staff.
  • FEDSTATS - Federal Interagency Council on Statistical Policy
    Gateway to statistics from over 100 U.S. Federal agencies. 
  • American Factfinder
    Interactive, searchable database on the Internet that is used to find population, housing, industry and business statistics from the U.S. Census. Data collected in Census 2010, the Census of Population and Housing, the American Community Survey and the Economic Census. American Factfinder allows the user to compile census data into tables, maps and downloadable files, which can be viewed or printed.
  • (1790-2000)
    Includes numerous tables such as Immigration - Number and Rate, Employment Status of the Civilian Population, Marital Status of the Population by Sex, Marital Status of Women in the Civilian Labor Force and World Population by Region.

  • Older information--Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Government Documents Reference, C 3.134/2:H 62/789-970/pt. 1-2) and the Statistical Abstract from 1878 to the present at C 3.134:.

Census Information

Census information is available on the Internet and in paper format. Our collection covers the entire United States, but provides a particular focus on Missouri Census information. The suggestions below are only a starting point. Ask for assistance if you don't find what you need.

  • U.S. Census data available online at the American FactFinder and at the Missouri Census Data Center
  • Historical Census data--Summary information in Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Government Documents Reference, C 3. 134/2:H 62/789-970/pt. 1-2). To find more complete early census data, check Dubester's U.S. Census Bibliography with SuDocs Class Numbers and Indexes in the Government Documents Reference Collection.
  • Historical Census Browser Provides U.S. census statistics on states and counties from 1790 to 1960.  

Legislative Information

There is a great deal of legislative information available on the Internet. We have also have some legislative information available in paper and microfiche format. Ask for assistance at Reference.

  • FDSys Search bills, legislation, the Congressional Record, US Code, the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, hearing testimony, and much more. This resource also provides indexing for early Congresses. 
  • Missouri General Assembly Search for Federal and state legislative information.
  • U.S. Statutes at Large Public law information back to 1951. Older volumes are contained in the gov docs collection.  
  • U.S. Code Codification of all public laws back to 1994. 
  • The Library of Congress has designed this site to provide additional assistance in locating legislative information. You can get the current status of bills, recent action, bill summaries, and other information as well as the full text of the bills at this site.

Judicial Information

Access to court decisions has gotten a great deal easier in the recent past.

Your Librarian

Mark Love's picture
Mark Love
JCKL 2448