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Kenyon College


KAP: Introduction to the Kenyon College Library and Its Resources: Government Documents

Government Printing Office

The U.S Government Printing Office (GPO) is the largest publisher in the United States. Congress passed a law during the 19th century creating the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which today supplies copies of government publications to approximately 1,350 depository libraries nationwide. Kenyon has participated in this program since 1873.

U.S. Government publications are mostly kept in a separate section in the library, and are shelved using a special call number system: the SuDocs system, short for the Superintendent of Documents System. It is a system of letters, numbers, and punctuation (such as colons and slashes) unique to federal documents. Each call number starts with a letter(s) that indicates the issuing agency. Thus Agriculture Department documents start with the letter A, Defense with D, etc. There are, of course, exceptions: since the Commerce Department got C, Congress is filed under Y.

Note: There is, unfortunately, no single definitive place one can go to search a complete list of Kenyon’s government documents collection. However, by using several tools one can get a good sense of what is available. If you are not sure whether Kenyon owns something, always write down the title and SuDocs number (call number) and speak with a librarian if you cannot locate it on the Government Documents shelves.

Statistical Information

Historical Census Browser: The University of Virginia has uploaded data on the web for censuses conducted from 1790 to 1960. Choose from different major categories, such as “population characteristics” and then from difference basic variables, such as “number of females 18-44 years of age” for different states. Once basic variables are selected, more specific variables become available. Be aware that different kinds of information were collected during different censuses, so that the information available from census to census may differ slightly.

Historical Statistics of the United States: HSUS is a compendium of statistics from more than 1,000 sources and includes more than 37,000 data series about American history. Tables may be graphed, customized, and downloaded. Also available in print, at KEN Infodesk HA202 .B87 1975.

US Census Bureau: A good place to go for 1990 and 2000 census information, and for some historical data, depending on the subject.

Statistical Abstract (online resource)
The library has, with some gaps, the yearly Statistical Abstract going back to 1883. Although the older editions, in particular, will not have much, if any state level data, “StatAbs” is an excellent source of national level data and for data across many years.

Executive Branch Online Databases

Legislative Branch

Congressional Record (1874--) KEN Govdocs X 1.1: 
Record of everything said on the floor of the House and the Senate. Also available online, from 1994--present.

 Congressional Universe (1970--)

Indexes and abstracts congressional publications including hearings, reports, and committee prints, and includes the full text of all federal bills from 1989--present.

 CQ Researcher (1991--)

CQ Researchers a collection of in-depth reports covering health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology, and the economy. Each report includes an introductory overview; background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; pro/con statements from representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources. 

CQ Weekly (1983--)

Provides weekly news coverage of Congress, including the status of bills, committee and floor activity, debates, and roll call votes. 

 Legislative Resources from GPO Access

A searchable database of bills, laws, The Congressional Record, and other sources.


Use THOMAS to access full-text legislation, public laws, the Congressional Record, roll call votes, and more from the 101st Congress (1989-1991) to the present. 

 U.S.Congressional Serial Set

The Serial Set is a collection of Senate reports, House reports, Senate documents, House documents, including the House and Senate Journals through the 52nd Congress. Congress designates additional items for inclusion such as administrative reports, internal manuals, congressional directories, special reports, annual reports of agencies and other papers. The Serial Set does not include congressional hearings, debates, or committee prints. Recent House and Senate reports and documents are available on the web. A lot of information related to diplomatic history can be found here, especially relating to wars. The set is located, in print, near the Reference Section, on the second floor, and the index is at KEN Reference Z 1223 29 C65. The Serial Set is also available online, through LexisNexis.

 U.S. House of Representatives

Information about current House events, and links to other legislative resources.

 U.S. Senate

General information about the Senate, but the site does not provide legislative information. 

Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court of the United States

FindLaw's Supreme Court Opinions 
"FindLaw's searchable database of the Supreme Court decisions since 1893 is browsable by year and U.S. Reports volume number, and is searchable by citation, case title and full text." 

Supreme Court Collection 
"The Legal Information Institute offers Supreme Court opinions issued since May of 1990." 

Guide to U.S. Federal Court System 

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