Subject Specialist

U. S. Politics

Subject Guides

Getting started / Background information

Albert Search

Search Albert to find books, movies, etc..

Advanced Search

Includes hundreds of online academic encyclopedias and handbooks. 

Includes excellent background information in the social sciences

Finding Articles 


Discover articles from many of our databases.


Scholarly articles from Wiley publications, which has a great collection of political science journals

Executive Branch

The American Presidency Project - Over 100,000 documents studying the presidents and the institution of the presidency.  

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.  Using their search box will search their Video Library (archive) 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 via the FAS. 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.

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.

Ballot Measure Database - "NCSL’s Ballot Measures database includes all statewide ballot measures for more than a century. The database is searchable by topic area, with options such as abortion, bond measures, criminal justice, education, elections, health, labor and employment, natural resources, tax and revenues, transportation and more. The database is updated as new ballot measures qualify to be on the ballot."  From the NCSL, the National Conference of State Legislatures.

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

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. - 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.

Government Reports and Documents

Federal Digital System - Search for current governmental reports and documents. This is a part of 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 such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

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

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

Huge collection of national and international statistics.  Complicated and at times difficult to use, but well worth the struggle for the great results.

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

 Also includes information on state statistics other than California

Statistical Abstract of the United States - An annual summary of national statistics.

Statistical Portrait of the United States: Social Conditions and Trends ebook from ebrary

Literature Review Resources

Political Science Subject Guide: Literature Reviews from Yale University has very detailed information on how to search for resources for your lit review.

Other places to look for material can be found in the links above to Multisearch or to PAIS.  Other places of interest include:

Search all the Ebsco databases at once

Search all the Proquest databases at once

The Literature Review: A Research Journey - An overview of the literature review iterative process.  This particular guide has an educational focus, but a literature review for any discipline has similar steps and processes.  From the Harvard Library.

Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students - This 9-1/2 minute video explains what a literature review is, and why it is important for graduate student research.  From North Carolina State University.

Oxford Index (Oxford Bibliographies) - Find scholarly research, including scholarly bibliographies on a variety of subjects.  SMC does not have a subscription to this database, but Oxford does allow browsing of the contents.  Let a librarian know if would like to locate something from within this database.  Ask Us!

Boolean Searching - A brief (less than 2 minutes) video explaining boolean searching for your database searches.  This is one of many short videos from the Library's YouTube channel.  From SMC Library.  

Locating Experts in your Research - A help guide on how to do this from SMC Library. [pdf file]

Primary and Secondary Sources - A chart that looks at the differences between primary and secondary sources for the humanities and social sciences. From SMC Library. [pdf file]

Writing and Citing

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!

Citation Management Software

Consider getting the Firefox (browser) extension called Zotero to better manage your online citations.  You can also use Mendeley.   Both are free!

Writing Assistance

Having trouble putting it all together? The SMC Center for Writing Across the Curriculum (or, "The Writing Center") offers peer-to-peer advising sessions for both undergraduate and graduate students. You can call or stop by to make an appointment, or can also drop in and do a session immediately, if an adviser is available. See their website for more information, or stop by the first floor of DeLaSalle, or call us: 925.631.4684