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This guide is designed to help you find research and resources in the field of History.

Why Use Government Documents?

Government documents are public records from federal, state, and local governments and intergovernmental organizations (NGOs). Researchers use these documents to learn about the economy, demographics, and government processes of that time period. Government documents are often available through university libraries, state or federal archives, and museums. 

What is a government document? Examples include, but are limited to:

  • Laws, regulations, and treaties
  • Hearings and debates
  • Administrative papers
  • Census records
  • Maps

Access to digitized copies of historic or declassified documents varies from country to country. This guide is not exhaustive of all resources with government document primary sources. If you are not sure where to get started, please ask a librarian for assistance.

United States History

World History

  • Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History, and Diplomacy
    • A document collection covering Ancient history (4000BCE) to the 21st Century. Sources are related to law, history, economics, politics, diplomacy, such as constitutions and treaties.
  • Brazilian Government Documents
    • Executive branch documents issued by Brazil's national government from 1821 - 1993 and by its provincial governments from 1830 - 1930.
  • Chinese Foreign Policy Database
    • A collection of documents from Chinese and international archives related to Chinese foreign policy since 1949.
  • Euro Docs
    • A BYU website with links to online primary source documents related European history from prehistoric times to the present.
  • Latin American Pamphlet Digital Collection
    • ‚Äč19th and 20th century pamphlets, primarily from Chile, Cuba, Bolivia, and Mexico. Digital access provided by Harvard University. 
  • Library of Congress Digital Collections
    • Limit search to "World Cultures & History" for primary sources related to world history. Collections include election website archives, political posters & propaganda, and U.S. diplomacy. 
  • The Mexican Intelligence Digital Archives
    • A crowd-sourced digital archives of historical documents from Mexican intelligence agencies. Most of the collection covers c.1940 - c.1985.
  • Japan Center for Asian Historical Records
    • Historical documents provided by the National Archives of Japan, the Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and the National Institute for Defense Studies of the Ministry of Defense of Japan. Most docments date from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s.