Executive Branch Resources

This is a selective guide to resources at Columbia University Libraries and on the Internet, for conducting research on the U.S. executive branch and the presidency. Most of the items included are available in Lehman Library, either in the U.S. Government Documents collection, Lehman, or the Lehman stacks. For other locations and titles, check CLIO. Prior to 1976, U.S. Federal government documents are mostly located in Butler Library and can be located through the Butler Card Catalog.

For additional resources on presidential campaigns & elections, consult the Campaigns & Elections research guide.

Resources marked with this symbol are restricted to Columbia affiliates.

Research Guides & Bibliographies

  • The Executive Office of the President: a Historical, Biographical, and Bibliographical Guide.
    Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1997.
    JK 552 .E94 1997 - Lehman
    Call Number: R016.353 Ex31 S4 2001
  • Glennon, Michael J.
    When No Majority Rules: the Electoral College and Presidential Succession.
    Washington, DC : Congressional Quarterly, 1993.
    Call Number: JK 529 .G58 1992
  • Goehlert, Robert.
    The Executive Branch of the U.S. Government: a Bibliography.
    New York : Greenwood Press, 1989.
    Call Number: JK 529 .G58 1992
    Call Number: R016.973 G548
  • Martin, Fenton S.
    How to Research the Presidency.
    Washington, DC : Congressional Quarterly, 1996.
    Call Number: Z 1249.P7 M365 1996
  • National First Ladies Library: Online Bibliography
  • The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency.
    Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2009.
    Call Number: JK 516 .O94 2009g
  • Presidential Elections: Resource Guides
      The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a large selection of primary source materials associated with presidential elections, including manuscripts, letters, broadsides, government documents, prints, photographs, sheet music, sound recordings, films, and newspaper articles. These resource guides compile digital materials that are available throughout the Library’s Web site. In addition, each resource guide provides links to external Web sites and a bibliography containing selected works. There is a guide for the Presidential elections of 1800, 1860, 1864, 1876, 1896 and 1912.
  • Sears, Jean L.
    Using Government Information Sources: Electronic and Print. 3rd ed.
    Phoenix : Oryx Press, 2001.
    Call Number: Z 1223 .Z7 S4 2001
    Several chapters serve as excellent guides: the President, Regulations and Administrative Actions, Administrative Decisions, and numerous subject searches. Highly recommended.

Indexes and Databases

  • ABC Pol Sci: Advance Bibliography of Contents, Political Science and Government. Monthly.
    Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 1969-1995.
    Call Number: Z 7161 .A214
    A Table of Contents list, author and subject index to journals in the fields. Since 1984, also available as part of Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, below.
  • Catalog of United States Government Publications (MOCAT). Daily. 1976-
    The basic index to U.S. Government publications, now on the web.
  • CIS Index To Presidential Executive Orders And Proclamations. 22 vols.
    Bethesda, MD : Congressional Information Service, 1987.
    KF 70 .A55 1986 - Law
    Indexes over 75,000 presidential orders and proclamations issued from 1789 to 1983. The Law Library also has the microfiche collection of full text.
  • International Political Science Abstracts. Online 1989-present, updated quarterly.
    Paris: International Political Science Association, 1951-
    Call Number: JA 36 .I5
    Call Number: R053 In8
  • National Journal Group’s Policy Central. Monthly. 1976-
    A collection of resources on U.S. politics and policy, including the National Journal, The Hotline, CongressDaily, Technology Daily, Poll Track, Ad spotlight, and The Almanac of American Politics. Also provides Congressional markup reports and update reports on key legislation.
  • United States Political Science Documents. Annual (Ceased).
    Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1975-1991.
    Call Number: JA 51 .U55
    Indexed and abstracted major journals in political science, history, economics, public administration, foreign policy, international affairs, and related areas.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts.
    The database contains abstracts of books and articles from professional journals and major news magazines, devoted to North American and international politics.


  • Federal Staff Directory. Semiannual.
    Mount Vernon, VA : Congressional Staff Directory, 1982-2002.
    Call Number: JK 274 .F316
  • Leadership Library on the Internet
    The Leadership Library, also known as Yellow Books, includes several directories of the Federal government and lobbyists, searchable by keyword, name, and agency; updated daily.
  • Pearson, Joyce A. McCray.
    U.S. Government Directories, 1982-1995.
    Englewood, Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 1998.
    Call Number: Z 7165.U5 P42 1998
    Earlier edition, 1970-1981, at Z 7164.A2 G685 1984
  • United States Government Manual. Annual. 1973/74-
    Call Number: JK 421 .Un34
    The organization manual for the Federal government.
    The above link goes to manuals for 1995/96-present from FDsys; check CLIO for records with links to most of the earlier editions.
  • Washington Representatives. Annual.
    Washington, Columbia Books, 1979-
    Call Number: JK 1118 .W38
    A compilation of Washington representatives of the major national associations, labor unions and U.S. companies; registered foreign agents; lobbyists; lawyers; law firms; and special interest groups, together with their clients and areas of legislative and regulatory concern.

Background Information


  • The American Presidency Project
    A web site from the Dept. of Political Science, University of California, Santa Barbara. It contains many useful full text documents, including the inaugural addresses, State of the Union addresses, national political party platforms, and Public Papers of the Presidents (1929-1993).
  • American President: an Online Reference Resource
    A web site from Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, which presents detailed information on both the history of the presidency and its current functional elements
  • American Presidential Campaigns and Elections. 3 vols.
    Armonk, N.Y. : Sharpe Reference, c2003.
    Call Number: JK 1965 .A57 2003
  • Atlas of United States Presidential Elections: 1932-1996.
    Richmond, VA : Klipsan Press, 1997.
    Call Number: JK 1967 .M55 1997g
  • The Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, at American University
    The Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies (CCPS) provides an integrated teaching, research, and study program focusing on Congress and the presidency and the interactions of these two basic American institutions.
  • Center for Effective Government
    Formerly OMB Watch, the Center has a long history of encouraging the public's right-to-know and public access to government information. During the 1990s, OMB Watch expanded its role to include oversight of policy and legislative issues that address public access to government information.
  • Commission on Presidential Debates
    Face-to-face presidential debates in the 20th century began their broadcast history in 1948. Republicans Thomas Dewey and Harold Stassen faced each other in a radio debate during the Oregon Republican presidential primary. This site presents the full text of debates from 1960, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. There is also much supplementary material relating to Presidential debates.
  • CQ Voting and Elections Collection.
    Integrates data, authoritative analyses, concise explanations, and historical material to provide a research and reference tool on voting and elections in America. From the American voter, to major and minor political parties, to actual races for Congress, the presidency, and governorships, the collection provides context-driven intelligence on the state of elections in America. Chronological coverage varies by office. Presidential coverage begins 1789. Election data can be downloaded.
  • Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
    Past General Elections provides detailed information on national results for the major and minor candidates for U.S. President in the general elections from 1860 to 2010. Individual year pages include candidates, parties, popular and electoral vote totals, maps, charts, and voter turnout (1932-2010). In addition, there are state results pages for years 1960 through 2010 with county-level maps and data.
  • Deskins, Donald Richard.
    Presidential Elections, 1789-2008 : County, State, and National Mapping of Election Data.
    Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, c2010.
    Call Number: JK 524 .D47 2010
  • Encyclopedia of Governmental Advisory Organizations. 3 vols.
    Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., c1973-
    Call Number: JK 468 .C7 E52
  • Encyclopedia of Interest Groups and Lobbyists in the United States. 2 vols.
    Armonk, NY : Sharpe Reference, c2000.
    JK 1118 .N47 2000 - Lehman
  • Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. 6 vols.
    New York : Macmillan Reference USA, c2000.
    KF 4548 .E53 2000 - Lehman, Barnard Reference
    Call Number: KF4548 .E53 2000
  • Encyclopedia of the American Presidency. 4 vols.
    New York : Simon & Schuster, 1994.
    Call Number: KF 4548 .E53 2000
  • Government Agencies.
    Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 1983.
    Call Number: JK 421 .G65 1983
    Lengthy profiles of over 100 U.S. government agencies, with bibliographies. Highly recommended, although outdated.
  • Grossman, Mark.
    Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet. 2nd ed. 2 vols.
    Amenia, N.Y. : Grey House Publishing, c2010.
    Call Number: E 176 .G89 2010
  • Guide to the Presidency. 4th ed. 2 vols.
    Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, 2008.
    JK 516 .C83 2008
  • A Historical Encyclopedia of U.S. Presidential Use of Force, 1789-2000.
    Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2001.
    Call Number: R342.735 H6293
  • A Historical Guide to the U.S. Government.
    New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
    Call Number: JK 9 .H57 1998
    Brief histories of all executive departments and agencies, with an appendix of many of the most important laws, acts, and executive orders which have shaped government administration.
  • Kane, Joseph N.
    Facts About the Presidents: a Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. 8th ed. New York : H.W. Wilson, 2009.
    Call Number: E 176.1 .K3 2009
  • King, Gary
    The Elusive Executive: Discovering Statistical Patterns in the Presidency
    Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, 1988.
    Call Number: JK 516 .K46 1988
    A fascinating distillation of facts surrounding the presidency, such as Occupational Background of Major Cabinet and Diplomatic Appointees, 1789-1980 or The Cost to Taxpayers of Former Presidents, 1955-1987.
  • The Living Room Candidate: a History of Presidential Campaign Commercials, 1952-2004
    This site, presented by the American Museum of the Moving Image, offers video clips of presidential campaign commercials, and supporting materials.
  • Making Democracy Work: a Brief History of Twentieth Century Federal Executive Reorganization
    A detailed study of executive branch reorganization, from the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs.
  • McGillivray, Alice V.
    America at the Polls, 1960-2000, John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush : a Handbook of American Presidential Election Statistics.
    Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, c2001.
    Call Number: JK 524 .A73 2001
  • National Atlas of the United States of America. Presidential Elections, 1789--2008.
    Reston, Va. : U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; Denver, Colo. : For sale by the U.S. Geological Survey, c2009.
    Call Number: Lehman Map Room
  • Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies
    The Library of Congress has extensive resources for the study of the United States presidents and first ladies. Frequent requests for presidential portraits inspired Prints and Photographs Division staff to compile this ready reference aid of formal and informal pictures in the division's custody. The selected images include at least one likeness of each of the forty-one presidents and most of the first ladies.
  • Presidential Elections 1789 - 2008: Maps
    These Presidential Elections printable maps show electoral votes won, by political party, for the fifty-four Presidential elections from George Washington in 1789 to Barack Obama in 2080.
  • The Presidential Elections 1860-1912 [Political Cartoons]
    Features cartoons from Harper's Weekly, Vanity Fair, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, Puck, and the Library of Congress Collection of American Political Prints: 1766-1876.
  • Presidential Inaugurations
    "I Do Solemnly Swear . . .": Presidential Inaugurations is a collection of approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files from each of the 62 inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to George W. Bush in 2001. This presentation includes diaries and letters of presidents and of those who witnessed inaugurations, handwritten drafts of inaugural addresses, broadsides, inaugural tickets and programs, prints, photographs, and sheet music. The selections are drawn from the Presidential Papers in the Manuscript Division and from the collections of the Prints and Photographs Division, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Music Division, and the General Collections of the Library of Congress.
  • Presidential Libraries
    News from the National Archives about the presidential libraries, and links to each library web site.
  • Presidential Pardons
    A website from Jurist, which presents a guide "for scholars, policy-makers and citizens interested in the law of Presidential pardons."
    U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of the Pardon Attorney
    The Office of the Pardon Attorney, in consultation with the Attorney General or his designee, assists the President in the exercise of executive clemency as authorized under Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution. The site includes clemency statistics and recipients.
  • Presidential Speech Archive
    The Scripps Library, through cooperation with various presidential libraries, has been collecting some of the most important presidential speeches in American history. These speeches all have transcripts, and some are available in their entirety in full audio.
  • Presidential Timeline of the Twentieth Century
    The Presidential Timeline provides a single point of access to an ever-growing selection of digitized assets from the collections of the twelve Presidential Libraries of the National Archives. Among these assets you’ll find documents, photographs, audio recordings, and video relating to the events of the presidents’ lives. The goal of the project is to make these resources readily and freely available to students, educators, and adult learners throughout the world.
  • The Presidents: a Reference History. 3rd ed.
    New York : Scribner's, 2002.
    Call Number: R973 P921
  • Presidents of the United States (POTUS), from the Internet Public Library
    An impressive compilation of material about each President, including election results, highlights of the term, cabinet members, and links to internet biographies and historic documents.
  • Presidents, Vice Presidents, Cabinet Members, Supreme Court Justices, 1789-2003 : Vital and Official Data.
    Jefferson, NC : McFarland, 2003.
    Call Number: JK 6 .P74 2003
    Very handy lists of pertinent facts about office holders through the G.W. Bush administration. Includes exact dates of appointment, confirmation, oath-taking, "official" day in office, resignation tendered or requested, day it became effective, "last" day in office, and their ages at each of these dates.
  • Ragsdale, Lyn.
    Vital Statistics on the Presidency: George Washington to George Bush. 3rd ed.
    Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, c2009.
    Call Number: JK 518 .R34 2009g
  • The Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections.
    New York : Routledge, 2001.
    Call Number: G 1201 .S1 M5 2001
  • Southwick, Leslie H.
    Presidential Also-rans and Running Mates, 1788 Through 1996. 2nd ed.
    Jefferson, NC : McFarland & Co., c1998.
    Call Number: E 175.1 .S695 1998
  • Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of ...
    Since 1920, the Clerk of the House has collected and published the official vote counts for federal elections from the official sources among the various states and territories. These documents, out of print for many years, have been collected and scanned in a format to make them once again available to researchers and students.
  • Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC)
    TRAC was established in 1989 as a research center at Syracuse University. Its purpose is to provide comprehensive information about the activities of federal enforcement and regulatory agencies, their day-to-day activities, agency priorities and practices, changes over time, impact of a new law on agency activities, etc. TRAC's information about the federal government's enforcement and regulatory effort is based on masses of detailed data that it obtains from federal agencies through the systematic and informed use of the Freedom of Information Act. There are currently seven TRAC web sites: Reports, ATF, DEA, FBI, DHS, IRS, and Immigration.
  • The United States Executive Branch: a Biographical Directory of Heads of State and Cabinet Officials. 2 vols.
    Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2003.
    Call Number: E176 .U575 2003
  • VicePresidents.com
    Everything about the V-P.
  • Vital Statistics on American Politics. Annual.
    Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, 1988-
    Call Number: JK 274 .S74
  • White House Tapes: Presidential Recordings Program
    Between 1940 and 1973, six American presidents from both political parties--FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ, and Nixon--secretly recorded on tape just under 5,000 hours of their meetings and telephone conversations. The Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program is a unique effort aimed at making these remarkable historical sources accessible. From the Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia.
  • Who's Who in American Politics. Biennial.
    New York : Bowker, 1967/68-
    Call Number: E176 .W48

Executive Office of the President/The White House

This section concerns the activities and publications of the President and those executive branch agencies which report directly to the President, rather than through the Cabinet Departments, which are covered in the next section.

Official US Executive Branch Web Sites, from the Library of Congress

The White House Web Site

White House Offices and Agencies

  • American Presidents : Farewell Messages to the Nation, 1796-2001.
    Lanham : Lexington Books, c2003.
    Call Number: J 81.4 .A46 2003
  • Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff
    Since 1995, the White House has been required to deliver a report to Congress listing the title and salary of every White House Office employee. This report also contains the title and salary details of administration officials who work at the Office of Policy Development, including the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council -- along with White House Office employees.
  • Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents. Daily. 1/20/2009--
    Issued daily, it contains the statements of the President and related materials (appointments & nominations, communications to Congress, executive orders, executive decisions, presidential signing statements, etc.) for the previous day. The most comprehensive source of presidential materials. Preceded by the Weekly Compilation (below).
  • The Documentary History of the ... Presidency.
    Bethesda, MD : LexisNexis, [various years].
    Franklin D. Roosevelt: E 806 .D614 2001 - Butler
    Harry S. Truman: E 813 .D56 1995 - Butler
    Dwight D. Eisenhower: E 835 .D63 20051 - Butler
    John F. Kennedy: E 841 .D575 2005 - Butler
  • Executive Office of the President: a Historical, Biographical, and Bibliographical Guide.
    Westport, CT : Greenwood Press, 1997.
    Call Number: JK 552 .E94 1997
  • Plischke, Elmer.
    Presidential Diplomacy: a Chronology of Summit Visits, Trips, and Meetings. Dobbs Ferry, NY : Oceana Publications, 1986.
    Call Number: E 176.1 .P75 1986
    See also, Travels of the President, U.S. Dept. of State, and the Daily/Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents for updates.
  • The Plum Book (United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions)
    Every four years, just after the Presidential election, the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly known as the Plum Book, is published, alternately, by the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Government Reform. The Plum Book is used to identify presidentially appointed positions within the Federal Government.
  • The President's Daily Brief (PDB)
    The PDB compiles the Intelligence Community’s highest level intelligence analysis targeted at the key national security issues and concerns of the President. The PDB is given only to the President, the Vice President, and a very select group of Cabinet-level officials designated by the President.
    The President's Daily Brief
    A description of the Daily Brief and the controversy surrounding it, along with links to a few declassified briefs; from the National Security Archive.
  • Presidential Records, National Archives and Records Administration:
    Access to Presidential Records Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978 Executive Order 13233, November 1, 2001
    -- Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act: gives former and incumbent presidents veto power over the release of records.
  • Presidential Signing Statements, 1929-present, from the American Presidency Project
    See The Legal Significance of Presidential Signing Statements, from the Dept. of Justice (1993) for a discussion of the utilization of Presidential signings and their legal standing. Also, the Memorandum on Presidential Signing Statements issued by President Obama, March 9, 2009; and a bibliography on Presidential Signing Statements from the Law Library of Congress.
  • Presidential Vetoes:, from the U.S. Senate Virtual Reference Desk
    Presidential Vetoes, 1789-1988
    Presidential Vetoes, 1989-2000

    Summary of Bills Vetoed, 1789-present

    The Presidential Veto and Congressional Procedure, from the Congressional Research Service, February 2004
  • Statements of Administration Policy: 2001-2004, 2009-present
    Official executive branch policy on legislation scheduled for House or Senate floor action. Indices of these statements are listed by bill number with links to the full text of the statements as transmitted to Congress.
  • United States. President.
    A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897. 10 vols.
    Washington : G.P.0., 1896-99.
    Call Number: J 81 .B96
  • United States. President.
    Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President. Washington : National Archives and Records Administration, 1957- J 80 .A2831 - Butler From 1929 through 1933 and 1945 through 1976, the Public Papers consisted of an edited version of the Weekly Compilation (below). From 1977 to 1988, it included virtually all of the Weekly Compilation material. From 1988 the texts of proclamations and executive orders are not included, although references to the location of the texts in the Federal Register are given. Web versions: Executive Order 13233: Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act, November 5, 2001: sets new restrictions on the release of Presidential papers.

    Additional, "unofficial" public papers:
    • The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson. 3 vols.
      Temecula, California : Reprint Services Corporation, 1992.
      Call Number: 973.82 W6989
    • The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt. 13 vols.
      New York, Russell & Russell, 1969, c1938-1950.
      Call Number: JV 82 .D6 1969
    Cumulated Indexes to the Public Papers of the Presidents. Millwood, N.Y. : KTO Press, c1929- J 80 .A2831 - Butler
  • United States. President.
    The State of the Union Messages of the Presidents, 1790-1966. 3 vols.
    New York : Chelsea House, 1966.
    Call Number: J 81 .C66
    Web version: State of the Union Messages, from the American Presidency Project, at the University of California, Santa Barbara
    Origins and Authorization for the State of the Union Address
  • Visitor Access Records
  • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. Weekly. 1976-
    Call Number: AE 2.109:
    1993-January 2009
    Issued each Monday, it contains the statements of the President and related materials (appointments & nominations, communications to Congress, executive orders, executive decisions, presidential signing statements, etc.) for the previous week. The most comprehensive source of presidential materials. Continued by the Daily Compilation, above.

Executive Orders and Proclamations

Executive orders are official documents, numbered consecutively, through which the President of the United States manages the operations of the Federal Government. The text of Executive orders appears in the daily Federal Register as each Executive order is signed by the President and also appears in the sequential editions of Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Executive Orders, from the Congressional Research Service, March 19, 2001
This report discusses the nature of executive orders and proclamations, with a focus on the scope of presidential authority to execute such instruments and judicial and congressional responses thereto.

  • CIS Index To Presidential Executive Orders And Proclamations. 22 vols.
    Bethesda, MD : Congressional Information Service, 1987.
    Call Number: F 70 .A55 1986 - Law
    Indexes over 75,000 presidential orders and proclamations issued from 1789 to 1983. The Law Library also has the microfiche collection of full text.
  • Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Title 3: Annual Compilation of Executive Orders and Proclamations
    Call Number: A.3 C642 - Law Microfiche (1938-present)
    To find the full text of executive orders online, go to the Code of Federal Regulations on FDsys  and select Title 3 for the year(s) needed.
  • Executive Orders Issued by President Barack Obama
  • Presidential Directives and Executive Orders, from the Federation of American Scientists
    Includes National Security Decision Directives, National Security Directives, Presidential Decision and Review Directives, Presidential Review Memorandums, and Executive Orders, from the Truman Administration to the present, some with links to full text.
  • United States. President.
    Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders, April 13, 1945-January 20, 1989.
    Call Number: AE 2.113:945-89
    A subject arrangement of executive orders (Truman-Reagan) that remain in force, with any amendments incorporated. Includes separate finding lists for proclamations and orders, with a subject index.

Presidential Directives

Presidential directives relate to national security, and are issued by the National Security Council after being signed or authorized by the President. Directives have been issued by every president since Truman, and have had a variety of names.

Presidential Directives and Where to Find Them, from the Library of Congress
Presidential Directives: Background and Overview from the Congressional Research Service

  • National Security Action Memoranda
    National Security Action Memoranda (NSAM) are documents that were issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson or by his national security advisors, McGeorge Bundy or Walt W. Rostow, to federal agencies to either relay policy statements or to request action programs. The 99 NSAMs of the Johnson administration were issued between November 26, 1963, and October 18, 1968. Topics of the NSAMs covered a wide range of national security issues, including international relations, trade, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons, Vietnam, and NATO policies.
  • Presidential Directives and Executive Orders, from the Federation of American Scientists
    Includes National Security Decision Directives, National Security Directives, Presidential Decision and Review Directives, Presidential Review Memorandums, and Executive Orders, from the Truman Administration to the present, some with links to full text.
  • Presidential Directives on National Security from Truman to Clinton.
    Alexandria, Va. : Chadwyck-Healey ; <Washington, D.C.> : National Security Archive, c1994.
    Call Number: MICFICHE FX3 5770 Guide
    Presidential Directives on National Security From Truman to Clinton provides a unique collection of documents pertaining to all aspects of U.S. national security policy — foreign, defense, intelligence, and international economic policy — and structure. The collection consists of over 2,100 documents totaling 30,855 pages, and covers all administrations from Truman to Clinton.
  • Presidential Directives on National Security, Part II: From Harry Truman to George W. Bush.
    Alexandria, Va. : Chadwyck-Healey ; <Washington, D.C.> : National Security Archive, c2004. Contains more than 1,836 highest-level documents issued by presidents from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush concerning foreign affairs, defense and arms control policy, intelligence and counterterrorist activities, and international economic policy. Thanks to a long-standing Freedom of Information Act campaign by the National Security Archive, the two parts of this collection contain every single presidential directive released to date. (All of the documents in Part II became available after the publication of Part I.) Furthermore, unlike the daily stream of White House proclamations and press releases that are designed to frame official policy for public consumption, these directives and requests for studies reflect each president's actual, behind-the-scenes priorities, goals and decisions. In addition, the numerous substantive responses to study requests that are included here, particularly from the Nixon and Ford administrations, offer an insider's view of many of the most important policy documents that crossed the president's desk throughout the post-World War II period.
  • Presidential Review Memoranda (PRM) and Presidential Directives (PD)
    A list, with links to full text, of directives from the Carter administration, 1977-1981.
  • Simpson, Christopher.
    National Security Directives of the Reagan & Bush Administrations: the Declassified History of U.S. Political & Military Policy, 1981-1991.
    Boulder, CO : Westview Press, 1995.
    Call Number: E 876 .S5 1995
    Reproduces, discusses, and indexes hundreds of National Security Decision Directives (NSDDs), mostly retrieved via FOIA requests to the National Security Council and the Government Accountability Office. They fall into eight major categories: nuclear weapons, negotiations with allies and rivals, U.S. policy on "hot" issues, "secret" or "fugitive" law, U.S. technology policy, resolution of turf disputes within the federal security bureaucracy, intelligence-tasking orders, and briefing papers for the President.
  • United States. General Accounting Office.
    National Security: the Use of Presidential Directives to Make and Implement U.S. Policy (1992)

Cabinet Departments

This section concerns the activities and publications of Cabinet level departments within the executive branch.

Executive departments and their component agencies issue a variety of publications during the year: annual Reports. annual budget hearings before Congress, annual statistical reports, indexes or databases of their publications, periodicals, subject reports and publications

  • Agencies' Communications to Congress
    Links to web sites of executive agencies which display testimony presented to Congress, as well as other information.
  • Grossman, Mark.
    Encyclopedia of the United States Cabinet. 2nd ed. 2 vols.
    Amenia, N.Y. : Grey House Publishing, c2010.
    E176 .G89 2010 - Lehman
    Call Number: E 176 .G89 2010

For more detailed information on the State Department and United States foreign policy, consult the U.S. Foreign Policy research guide.

Independent Federal Agencies & Commissions

This section concerns the activities and publications of those agencies and commissions which are established by the President, but whose actions are supposed to be independent of direct control by the White House.

For more detailed information on the C.I.A. and other U.S. government agencies involved in intelligence activities, consult the U.S. Intelligence Community research guide.

  • Annual Report of the President on Federal Advisory Committees.
    Washington, D.C. : General Services Administration, 1972-1998.
    Similar information now available from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Database.
  • Encyclopedia of Governmental Advisory Organizations. Annual.
    Detroit : Gale Research, 1973-
    Call Number: JK 468 .C7 E52
    Includes entries for over 6,800 permanent, continuing, and od hoc U.S. Presidential Advisory Committees, Congressional Advisory Committees, Public Advisory Committees, Interagency Committees, and other government-related boards, panels, task forces, commissions, conferences, and other similar bodies, from 1837 to the present.
  • Smith, Stephanie.
    Federal Advisory Committees : a Primer.
    New York : Novinka Books, c2002.
    Call Number: KF 5125 .Z9 S63 2002
  • Zink, Steven D.
    Guide to the Presidential Advisory Commissions, 1973-84.
    Alexandria, VA : Chadwyck-Healey, 1987.
    Call Number: JK 468 .C7 Z56 1987

Regulatory Role

When Congress passes a law, often it cannot describe every detail of the implementation of that law. Instead, it authorizes various executive departments and agencies to write the rules and regulations which implement the intention of the law. Congress will describe the broad area of regulatory mandate, but the executive agency is responsible for filling in the specifics and administering the regulations, via the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

For a detailed explanation and review of documents and resources related to the regulatory process, consult the guide U.S. Government Documents: the Regulatory Process.


  • Budget of the United States Government. Annual.
    Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1952-
    Call Number: HJ 2051 .Un31
    Proposal issued by the President, often with various supporting appendices and tables; it indicates Presidential goals and priorities for the next fiscal year. It includes a description of the economic assumptions on which the budget is based, and and detailed agency programs and expenditures.
  • For a detailed explanation and review of documents and resources related to the budget process, consult the guide U.S. Government Documents: The Budget Process.