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Includes hundreds of online academic encyclopedias and handbooks. 

Includes excellent background information in the social sciences



Discover articles and books from many of our databases.

Executive Branch


Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch, 1774-1989. (Ref 973.0922 So12) New York: Greenwood, 1990.

Budget of the United States Government- Available online.

Facts About the Presidents. (Ref 973.0922 K131) New York: HW Wilson, 1993.

First Ladies: A Biographical Dictionary. (Ref 973.0922 Sch57) New York: Facts on File, 2001.

Includes Presidents: A Reference History


Presidential Libraries - Guides and finding aids for each library.

Washington Information Directory - Available online from the Political Reference Suite from CQ Press.

United States Government Manual.  (Ref 353.9 Un3) Washington, DC: Federal Register, Annual.

Presidents Speak: The Inaugural Addresses of the American Presidents from Washington to Clinton. (Ref 353.035 L916a) New York: H. Holt, 1994.

White House presents not only information about the White House but also connections to most of the Independent agencies of the U.S. Federal government. 

Legislative Branch

 Includes Major Acts of Congress


Budget of the United States Government.  Annual, from the Government Printing Office (GPO).

Congress and the Nation - Available online from 1945 to the present, this important reference work focuses on legislation and issues over periods of time, organized by date, and also by topic. 


C-SPAN - Commercial-free live coverage of congressional proceedings.  Check out the video archives at C-SPAN Video Library which includes thousands of hours of coverage of important issues such as the Iran-Contra Affair, the Gulf Oil Spill, the Clinton Impeachment proceedings, and much more.

Congressional Research Service - A place to browse reports from the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service. is the updated version of the Library of Congress's  

Congressional Black Caucus - Formed to "meet the needs of millions of neglected citizens." Press releases, speeches, and articles.  Use with Black Members of the United State Congress 1870-present, updated annually.

Congressional Quarterly's American Congressional Dictionary. (Ref 328.73 K869) Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2001.

Congresslink - Hosted by Dirksen Congressional Center (a nonpartisan organization) that hopes to foster a better understanding of Congress and its leaders.

Official Congressional Directory. (Ref 328.73 Un3o) Washington, DC: GPO, 2001/02.

United States House of Representatives server has a wealth of information on legislators and legislation, including committee actions, voting records, etc. There is also a directory of representatives.

United States Senate - Directory of senators and their Web sites. Information on the committees, activities, and history of the Senate.

United States Government Manual.  (Ref 353.9 Un3) Washington, DC: Federal Register, Annual. 

Judicial Branch

Washington Information Directory - Online directory from Sage.


United States Government Manual.  (Ref 353.9 Un3) Washington, DC: Federal Register, Annual.


State Government

Almanac of the 50 States. (Ref 353.9 AL62) Burlington, VT: Information, Annual.

 Includes National Survey of State Laws - An Internet portal to find current information by and about state and local governments.

Government Performance Project - Comprehensive independent information about state management performance. Funded by the Pew Charitable Trust.

National Conference of State Legislatures - Bipartisan organization that provides information to the legislators of the 50 states and lobbies Congress on the bahalf of the states.

State and Local Government on the Net A nice directory of links to state and local governments, organized by state. - Current and updated information about what is going on at the state level.


America Votes: A Handbook of Contemporary American Election Statistics. (Ref 324.73 Am35) New York: Macmillan, Biennial.

ANES: American National Election Studies - Offers datasets from each election (an archive from 1952-2008), a bibliography for each dataset, and a Guide to Public Opinion and Electoral Behavior. Tables and statistics can be copied easily, so be sure and cite where you found it.

Need biographies of the candidates?

Guide to U.S. Elections - an online study from Sage, covering the study of all United State federal elections from the beginning of the republic to the present. - An Internet portal to find current information by and about state and local governments. Scroll down for up to date election coverage.

Open Secrets - "...nonpartisan guide to money's influence on U.S. elections and public policy."

Project Vote Smart - Find out about the candidates, their voting records and their stances on the issues.  From a non-partisan independent group.

The ReDistricting Game - A project of the USC Annenberg Center for Communications.  Try the five games (basic to advanced) in order to gain a better understanding of the issues behind redistricting. - A governmental site with voting and election statistics, plus general information on the process itself.

Government Reports and Documents

Federal Digital System - Search for current governmental reports and documents.

ConSource: The Constitution and Its Amendments - An online library of constitutional history.

GPO Access - From the Government Printing Office (GPO), the "official Federal Government Information at your fingertips." Full text of many government publications and reports, including Congressional RecordFederal RegisterGovernment Manual, and the United States Code. There is much more, including Core Documents of U.S. Democracy, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Historical List of Policy Documents - A "list of nearly all key national security policy documents issued from the Kennedy through the (first) Bush Administration.." From the National Security Council.

Historic Documents from 2009 to present.  You may need to search these year by year in the Sage database.  Older issues from 1980-2008 are available in print at:  (Ref 909.82 C760).   See also: Historic Documents Index, 1972-1999. (Ref 909.82 C760i) Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, 2000.

 Find background policy reports on many social issues.  


Metalab (USGPO)
 - The Government Printing Office offers 53 government databases with an "easy and personalized interface which can search simultaneously for information in a variety of electronic resources, such as catalogs, reference databases, digital repositories or subject-based Web gateways."

U.S. Government Documents Ready Reference Collection - Arranged by category, this is a great collection of available government documents. Categories include Environment, Health, Energy, and Business and Economics. Some sources are accessible only to Columbia students. - A nonpartisan nonprofit site set up to increase understanding and lessen confusion in US politics-- by monitoring accuracy of speeches, interviews, debates and press releases.

Federal Digital System - Searches current governmental reports and documents.

FedFlix - Offers "the best movies of the United States Government, from training films to history, from our national parks to the U.S. Fire Academy and the Postal Inspectors, all of these fine flix are available for reuse without any restrictions whatsoever..." - Data goes back to 2000 and includes grant recipient information, lists of government contractors (by state) and more.


Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) - Select "Local Government" for links to different cities and counties in the Bay Area.

Census Bureau

FedStats - For statistics of the more than 70 agencies in the U S Federal Government.

Includes Cities of the United States

Municipal Year Book. (Ref 352.058 M925) Chicago: International City Manager's Association, Annual.

 Also includes information on state statistics other than California

Statistical Portrait of the United States: Social Conditions and Trends. (Ref 317.3 B388) Lanhalm, MD: Bernan, 2002.

Statistical Abstract of the United States. (Ref 317.3 Un3a) Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., Annual


Citing your sources

Chicago Manual of Style Online. Also available in print in the reference room (Ref 808.02 Un3e)

Chicago Manual of Style (Notes-Bibliography) - a quick guide from the SMC Library.  If you are not sure which citation style to use for Chicago, consult with your faculty member!

Chicago Manual of Style (Author-Date) - a quick guide from the SMC Library

Quick Guide to Chicago Style from the Chicago manual publishers. Make sure you have the right Chicago style (either Author-Date or Notes-Bibliography) chosen before checking out the examples.

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers (Ref 808.02 T840c) 7th ed., Chicago: University of Chicago, 2007.

Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: A Manual for Writers and Librarians
(Ref 808.02 G186a) Bethesda, MD: Congressional Information Service, 1993.

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