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Political Science: American Government & Politics

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The tabs on this page lists sources on American government and U.S. political history.

American Government & Politics

General sources on American government & politics:
Sources of information on Congress, Members, and Districts

This page lists online and print resources useful for finding biographies, voting records, interest group ratings, issue positions, key votes, and campaign finance reports for members of the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. These sources also provide demographic and other information on the states and districts these individuals represent.

U.S. Census Bureau. Explore Census Data. (Advanced Search)
- Access to federal statistics by:
▪ Topic (e.g. Business & Economy; Families & Living Arrangements; Race & Ethnicity)
▪ Geography (e.g. State; County; Congressional District; Census Tract)
▪ Years
▪ Survey (e.g. American Community Survey [ACS]; Economic Census of the United States)
▪ Codes (e.g. Industry Codes [NAICS}; Product & Service Codes; Commodity Codes)

United States Government Manual
- Current and past editions are found online via
- Previous editions in print at Main Library JK421 .U6.
- As the official handbook of the Federal Government, it provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches, plus information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees.

U.S. House of Representatives
The official United States House of Representatives web site.

U.S. Senate
The official United States Senate web site.

Vote Smart
- An online source for "free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials," Vote Smart provides access to candidates' and representatives' biographies, voting records, interest group ratings, issue positions, public statements, and campaign finance information.

Congressional Documents sources:

UCSB Library Research Guide: Congressional Publications.
A resource for finding Congressional publications, as well as items in the Congressional Serials Set and Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports.

Look for links to sources for:
Bills and Laws (1981 +)
Hearings (1839 +)
Congressional Serial Set (1817 +)
Senate Executive Reports and Documents (1817 +)
Committee Prints (1970 +)
Congressional Record and its Predecessors (1789 +)

The ProQuest Congressional guide is a helpful tool for making use of this resource.

Congressional Research Service. (CRS)
- CRS works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. CRS reports are widely regarded as authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. 
- CRS does not print or distribute the reports to libraries, but thousands of CRS reports are freely available on the Internet via:

CQ Researcher plus Archive.
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
- A database of in-depth, authoritative reports on political and social-policy issues extending back to 1923.
CQ Weekly.
[online resource; UCSB IP addresses only]
- Provides a weekly review of activity in the U.S. Congress. Covers legislation, floor action, roll call votes and major policy issues.
- Past issues shelved at Main Library JA1 .C7 [Regular Loan]
Congressional record.
- The official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress.
Available from FDsys -- Congressional Record, Daily (1994-Present) and Congressional Record Index, Daily (1983-Present) -- as well as from ProQuest Congressional (via the link above).

Public and Private Laws. (Slip Laws)
- Public and private laws - also known as slip laws - are official publications of the law. Public laws affect society as a whole, while private laws affect an individual, family, or small group. After the President signs a bill into law, it is delivered to the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where it is assigned a law number, legal statutory citation (public laws only), and prepared for publication as a slip law. Private laws receive their legal statutory citations when they are published in the United States Statutes at Large.
United States Statutes at Large. (1951 - most current volume)
- The United States Statutes at Large is a chronological compilation of the laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress. The Statutes at Large is published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and under the provisions of 1 U.S.C. 112, the printed edition of the Statutes is legal evidence of the laws, concurrent resolutions, proclamations by the President, and proposed and ratified amendments to the Constitution.
- Also available in print at Main Ref KF50 .A3 [Non-circulating].
United States Code. (USC)
- A code is a subject arrangement of the law. The United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. It is divided by broad subjects into 51 titles and published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- The U.S. Code does not include regulations issued by executive branch agencies, decisions of the Federal courts, treaties, or laws enacted by State or local governments. Regulations issued by executive branch agencies are available in the Code of Federal Regulations (see entry below). Proposed and recently adopted regulations may be found in the Federal Register.
United States Code Service. (USCS) "Lawyer's edition"
- This is an annotated version of the U.S. Code. An annotated code includes, in addition to the text of the statutes, references to cases, other statutes, regulations and other research aids. The official U.S. Code (above) does not have case annotations.
- Main Ref KF62 1972 .L38 [Non-circulating]
Federal Register. (FR)
- Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.
Code of Federal Regulations. (CFR)
- The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. The 50 subject matter titles contain one or more individual volumes, which are are divided into chapters that usually bear the name of the issuing agency. Each chapter is further subdivided into parts that cover specific regulatory areas.
- Also available in print at Ref KF70 .A3
United States Congressional Serial Set.
[online resource; some links available to UCSB IP addresses only]
- The U.S. Congressional Serial Set, commonly referred to as the Serial Set, contains House and Senate Documents and House and Senate Reports bound by sessions of Congress. It began publication with the 15th Congress, 1st Session (1817). Documents before 1817 may be found in the American State Papers. In general, the Serial Set includes: committee reports related to bills and other matters, presidential communications to Congress, treaty materials, certain executive department publications, and certain non-governmental publications. House and Senate Documents and House and Senate Reports are available from the 104th Congress to the present date.


Executive branch (The President) information sources:

American Presidency Project.
- Established in 1999 as a collaboration between Prof. John Woolley and Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara, the American Presidency Project is widely recognized as the authoritative, non-partisan on-line source for presidential public documents.
The public papers of the Presidents of the United States.
- An official series in which Presidential writings, addresses, and remarks of a public nature are compiled and published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration.
The White House
- The official White House web site.
Executive Orders
- Executive Orders are official documents that the President issues to manage the operations of the Federal government. Executive orders are used by a president to exercise authority, while executive proclamations focus on something ceremonial in nature.
Compilation of Presidential Documents.
The Compilation of Presidential Documents collection consists of the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents and the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents which are the official publications of materials released by the White House Press Secretary. The Compilation of Presidential Documents is published by the Office of the Federal Register (OFR), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Presidential Recordings.
5,000 hours of telephone and meeting tape that Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt through Richard M. Nixon recorded during their time in the White House.

Executive Departments & Agencies information sources:

For background information, see:

The following is a select list of Executive department bureaus, offices and agencies, including links to many important federal document, database and statistics sources:

Department of Agriculture.

  • Agricultural Statistics Annual.
    - Annual reference book on agricultural production, supplies, consumption, facilities, costs, and returns.
  • Economics Research Service. (ERS)
    - Key indicators, outlook analysis, and other data on the U.S. food and agricultural system, including information on farm and rural households, commodity markets, food marketing, agricultural trade, diet and health, food safety, food and nutrition assistance programs, natural resources and the environment, and the rural economy.
  • Economics, Statistics and Market Information System. (ESMIS)
    - A collaborative project between the Albert Mann Library at Cornell University and the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, its Economic Research Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and its World Agricultural Outlook Board, that provides access to datasets (with both current and historical data) and reports on U.S. and international agriculture and related topics.
  • Foreign Agricultural Service. (FAS)
    - Data on U.S. export sales, by commodity and country of destination; global agricultural trade - with data from Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division; and data on the production, supply, and distribution of agricultural commodities for the United States and key producing and consuming countries.
  • National Agricultural Statistics Service. (NASS)
    - Provides timely, accurate, and useful statistics in service to U.S. agriculture.

Department of Commerce.

  • Bureau of Economic Analysis. (BEA)
    - BEA collects data, conducts research and analysis, and produces economic statistics that help government and business decision-makers, researchers and the American public better understand the performance of the U.S. economy. The cornerstone of BEA's statistics is the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), which feature the estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) and related measures.
  • Bureau of Industry and Security. (BIS)
    - The BIS advances U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA)
    - NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (formerly National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC), and National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC)) serves as the national repository for environmental data and manages one of the largest archives of atmospheric, coastal, geophysical, and oceanic research in the world, providing a record of Earth's changing environment and data products and services for better understanding and predicting changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts, and for the conservation and management of coastal and marine ecosystems.  
  • United States Census Bureau.
    - The leading source of data about the nation's people and economy. See especially the Bureau's Explore Census Data. (Advanced Search) tool which gives access to statistical information drawn from the Decennial Census, American Community Survey, and Economic Census. 
    - See also the Bureau's Economic Indicators which present national level data about the U.S. economy, reported monthly and quarterly for selected sectors of the economy, such as new residential construction (housing starts), monthly sales for food and services, and U.S. international trade in goods and services.

Department of Defense. (DOD)

Department of Education.

Department of Energy. (DOE)

  • Energy Information Administration. (EIA)
    - As the statistical and analytical agency within the U.S. Department of Energy, the EIA collects data and produces reports, forecasts, analytical content, and documentation on energy sources, production, costs, demand and effects of energy, plus and access time-series data.
  • Office of Policy and International Affairs. (PI)
    - The primary policy advisor on domestic and international policy analysis, development, evaluation, and implementation.
  • Office of Scientific and Technical Information. (OSTI)
    - Collects, preserves, and disseminates results from DOE-sponsored research and development projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

Department of Health and Human Services. (HHS)

Department of Homeland Security.

Department of Housing and Urban Development. (HUD)

Department of the Interior.

  • U.S. Geological Survey. (USGS)
    - provides information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, and the impacts of climate and land-use change.
  • Bureau of Land Management. (BLM)
    - manages the use of Federal public lands to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. See especially the Bureau's Public Land Statistics page.

Department of Justice. (DOJ)

  • Bureau of Justice Statistics. (BJS)
    - The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects, analyzes, publishes and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government.

Department of Labor. (DOL)

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics. (BLS) 
    - BLS is the principal Federal agency responsible for measuring labor market activity, working conditions and price changes in the economy. Its mission is to collect, analyze, and disseminate essential economic information to support public and private decision-making. See especially the Department's Economic News Releases page, with the latest reports from the Consumer Price Index, Producer Price Index, U.S. Import and Export Price Indexes, Employment Situation and Economic and Employment Projections.

Department of State.

  • See especially the Department's pages that focus on Policy Issues (e.g. 'Arms Control and Nonproliferation', 'Climate and Environment', and 'Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance') and Countries & Areas (e.g. Afghanistan, Norway, and Zimbabwe). 
  • Foreign relations of the United States. (FRUS) (1861-1958/1960)
    [University of Wisconsin Digital Collections]
    - the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity, 1861-1958/1960.
  • Foreign relations of the United States. (FRUS) (1945-1988)
    [U.S. Department of State. Office of the Historian.]
    - the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity, 1945-1988.
    - Click here to see which volumes of the FRUS series have been published, and which are planned for publication.
    - many volumes available in print at Main Library JX233 .A3, 1932-1976 [Regular Loan]

Department of Transportation. (DOT)

  • Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (BTS) [Research and Innovative Technology Administration]
    - national and state level transportation data regarding passenger and freight movements, airline performance, maritime operations, and economic indicators.

Department of the Treasury

  • Treasury Data and Charts Center.
    - raw data, graphs, and charts on topics ranging from Treasury interest rates to the Recovery Act to the International Capital System.
  • Economic Policy page.
    - Treasury is responsible for analyzing and reporting on current and prospective economic developments in the U.S. and world economies, and for assisting in the determination of appropriate economic policies.
  • IRS Tax Statistics page.
    - Tables, articles, and data that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system.
    - See especially IRS's Statistics of Income (SOI) products, publications, and papers pages.

Department of Veterans Affairs. (VA)

Other Federal Agencies, Commissions and Sites:
- Website of the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics
Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA)
- an independent U.S. Government agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior US policymakers.
- Website of the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics
Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA)
- The EPA collects and analyzes data on air and water quality, hazardous wastes, ozone depletion and UV exposure rates, super fund and other cleanup and reclamation activities, radiation and toxic waste exposure, with a view to how these affect human health and the environment. See especially the agency's Envirofacts - a single point of access to multiple EPA environmental databases.
Federal Reserve System. Economic & Research Data.
- Working papers and data sets from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system, the Fed tracks bank assets and liabilities, consumer credit, household debt and financial obligations, industrial productivity, foreign exchange rates and international data, and much more. For more information on the Fed, see The Federal Reserve System: Purposes and Functions.
Federal Trade Commission. (FTC)
- responsible for preventing business practices that are anti competitive or deceptive or unfair to consumers; for enhancing informed consumer choice and public understanding of the competitive process; and for doing this without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.
- See especially the FTC's Bureau of Economics research reports. 
- Shows U.S. Government foreign assistance investments in an accessible and easy-to-understand format.
National Science Foundation. National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. (NCSES)
- Collects, interprets, analyzes, and disseminates data on science and engineering enterprises.
Securities and Exchange Commission. (SEC)
- The SEC protects investors, maintains fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitates capital formation.
Social Security Administration. Research, Statistics & Policy Analysis page.
- A prime source for data and policy information related to social security.

Other sources of Federal information:

George Washington University. National Security Archive.
- A library and archive of government documents declassified under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Library of Congress. Official U.S. Executive Branch web sites.
- An extensive (but not comprehensive) list of links to web sites of U.S. Federal departments, offices and agencies.
- See also's A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies.

United States Federal Judicial Branch information sources:


Cornell University Law School. Legal Information Institute. Supreme Court Collection.
- Includes all opinions of the United States Supreme Court handed down since 1992, with over 600 earlier decisions selected for their historic importance and other materials.
- See especially the Legal Resources section of the Institute's home page, with links to the U.S. Code, the U.S. Constitution, Code of Federal Regulations, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Federal Rules of Evidence, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, Uniform Commercial Code, other Uniform Laws and State Constitutions & Codes.

NCSC: National Center for State Courts.
- Provides judicial branch links for each state, focusing on the administrative office of the courts, the court of last resort, any intermediate appellate courts, and each trial court level.
- Under the "Information & Resources" tab, look for the "Connect to state court websites" link.

United States Courts.
- The official portal to U.S. Federal Judiciary web sites.

Supreme Court of the United States.
- The official U.S. Supreme Court web site.

- A blog that is "Devoted to comprehensively covering the U.S. Supreme Court without bias and according to the highest journalistic and legal ethical standards."

Federal Judicial Center. Biographical directory of Federal judges.
- Biographies of presidentially-appointed judges who have served since 1789 on the U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Courts of Appeals, the Supreme Court of the United States,  the former U.S. Circuit Courts, and the federal judiciary's courts of special jurisdiction.

- Oyez (pronounced OH-yay)—a free law project from Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII), Justia, and Chicago-Kent College of Law—is a multimedia archive devoted to making the Supreme Court of the United States accessible to everyone. It is the most complete and authoritative source for all of the Court’s audio since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. Oyez offers transcript-synchronized and searchable audio, plain-English case summaries, illustrated decision information, and full-text Supreme Court opinions (through Justia). Oyez also provides detailed information on every justice throughout the Court’s history and offers a panoramic tour of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of several justices.

Online California state & local government resources

UC BerkeleyInstitute of Governmental Studies.
- Links to state, local and federal agencies, legislatures and legal information, statistical data and polls, local and regional governmental organizations, political parties, campaigns and elections, California media, and public policy resources.

California Voter Foundation. California Interest Groups.
- Links to interest groups, arranged under broad subject categories.

Pew Charitable Trusts. State Policy page.
- Recognizing that state lawmakers play a major role in advancing the quality of Americans’ lives, from helping to protect the air we breathe and water we drink, to educating our children, Pew supports research on emerging topics and develops 50-state comparisons to identify innovative approaches states are using to help solve complex challenges.

State of California. Department of Finance.

  • Demographic Research Unit.
    - The official source of demographic data for California state planning and budgeting.
  • Economic Research Unit.
    - Prepares economic forecasts and analyzes of state economic developments.
  • Revenue and Taxation pages.
    - The Revenue and Taxation section is responsible for estimating the state’s major General Fund and special fund tax revenues for the Governor’s Budget and the May Revision. The section monitors and reports on monthly receipts compared to estimates. It is also responsible for analyzing and developing tax policy change proposals for the administration and for preparing the annual tax expenditure report.

Other states information resources

- A free, open source API that aims to make legislative information from all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico available to the public.
State & Local Government on the Net
- Online resource for finding state, county, city and township web sites, government offices and officers, state legislatures, state judiciaries and county and local offices across all states.

Other, Non-Governmental Sources on American Government & Politics:
- A project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, bills itself as a "nonpartisan, nonprofit 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." It monitors the accuracy of what is said by major U.S. politicians and others in TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.

National Journal

- Database of editable slides on important policy topics, a custom creation service to produce visuals for project big and small, a database of in-depth profiles of policymakers and influencers at the federal, state, and local levels, and deep research illuminating pathways between key influencers in DC and beyond.
- A project of the St. Petersburg Times that aims to help readers find the truth in American politics. Reporters and editors from the Times fact-check statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups and rate them on its Truth-O-Meter.
- A largish political blog and news site published as "a non-partisan public service to promote fully informed decision-making by the American electorate."

How Our Laws Are Made

Provides a detailed introduction to bills, hearings, reports and other legislative documents, and an overview of the law-making process.

United States Government Manual

The United States Government Manual 2020

The United States Government Manual provides authoritative information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees.