Skip to Main Content

US Government Publications: Home

Purpose of this guide

This guide is intended for students and researchers studying American politics and government at the University of Oxford (both current and historical), who are using government publications to aide their studies. Oxford University students of American history, law and culture may also find this guide useful.

US government publications can provide researchers with information on official government procedure and legislation, the bureaucratic decision making process in Congress and the White House, and pivotal quantitative/qualitative data. They can support studies into political policies and implementation, or provide political/legal context to cultural/historical topics. 

This guide is organised into the following sub-sections: 


Records related to the Judicial Branch (such as Supreme Court rulings, federal and state legislation and other legal studies) and held by the Bodleian Law Library. Visit their guide for American Legal Resources for more information. 

Finding physical resources

Although more government publications are being added online, several publications will only be physically available. 

The VHL holds several physical government records which are held in the VHL Stack. Check via SOLO, using the government's Su Doc number (official government record number) - if you are unsure, use the Catalog of US Government Publications (link below). If we do not hold a physical copy at the VHL, it is worth checking the British Library holdings, as they have an extensive American federal records collection. 

Using SOLO

Below is some general advice for finding physical resources within SOLO: 

  • Personal papers of Presidents and other key figures - when searching, search for the individual's name, and the word "papers". So for example: Franklin AND Papers. 
  • Departmental documents: check via government pages for the historical names of the specific organisations you are looking for. Use brackets so that your search comes up with the exact phrase or name you wish to find: e.g. "Bureau of Education," "the Church Committee" 

Browsing the shelves

The majority of books will be located under the J shelfmark (Political Science). Specific topics in this area include:

  • J - General legislative and executive papers
  • JK - Political institutions and public administration - United States of America
  • JV - Colonies and colonization (including the early American Colonies). Emigration and immigration (includes immigration policies) 

Other shelfmarks you may want to browse include: 

  • E - History of the United States, including historic information on the American Founding, national political figures/presidents and wider historic background. 
  • F - United States local history - focusing on specific states or counties, such as historical background, information on local political figures. 
  • KF - American Law (note that most of these holdings will be in the American Law Library), such as records connected to the Judicial branch, records related to the Supreme Court, copies of state constitutions and other local legislation. 
  • KFA-Z - American Law for specific American states/territories

Subject Librarian

Profile Photo
Bethan Davies
Vere Harmsworth Library,
Rothermere American Institute,
1a South Parks Road,
Oxford, OX1 3UB
01865 282701
Subjects: American Studies

Key libraries

Other libraries