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Government Publications

Tricks for Working with Historical Federal Documents

In the early years of U.S. Government Publishing Office publishing, most publications were not assigned SuDocs call numbers, nor were they indexed very well. Many significant publications came out in two versions, their departmental version and a "serial set" version.  The kinds of departmental publications deemed important enough to be included in the serial set range from census reports to the federal budget to patent digests to maps.

 The "Serial Set" (it originally had no title) consists of various House and Senate documents and reports. The Cofrin Library is fortunate to own on microcard Serial Set Volumes for 1817-1888 as well as the American State Papers from 1789-1838.  The collection is housed on 5th floor under GVP US Y 1.1/2:  Equipment for reading the microcards is available on the 3rd floor of the library.

Because the various publications in the set were bound together randomly rather than in numerical order, it is essential to use one of the various finding aids the library owns to get to the right volume in the set. Please consult with the staff at the 3rd Floor Research Assistance Desk for help with the collection.

Finding Aids for historical U.S. Documents