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Selected Documents of American History

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence states the principles on which our government, and our identity as Americans, are based. Unlike the other founding documents, the Declaration of Independence is not legally binding, but it is powerful. Abraham Lincoln called it “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.” It continues to inspire people around the world to fight for freedom and equality.

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Articles of Confederation

Articles of Confederation.

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The Constitution of the United States

The text of the Constitution of the United States.

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The Bill of Rights

The Constitution might never have been ratified if the framers hadn't promised to add a Bill of Rights. The first ten amendments to the Constitution gave citizens more confidence in the new government and contain many of today's Americans most valued freedoms.

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Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation.

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13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery

Passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865, the 13th amendment abolished slavery in the United States and provides that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.".

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Databases for Government Documents

ProQuest Congressional

Comprehensive online collection of primary source congressional publications and legislative research materials covering all topics, including government, current events, politics, economics, business, science and technology, international relations, social issues, finance, insurance, and medicine. Finding aid for congressional hearings, committee prints, committee reports and documents from 1970-present, and the daily Congressional Record from 1985-present. Compiled legislative histories from 1969-present.

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HeinOnline

Contains more than 1,200 law and law-related periodicals. Coverage is from the first issue published for all periodicals and goes through the most-currently published issues allowed based on contracts with publishers. Retrieve articles by citation, browse, or search across nearly 50 million pages of content. HeinOnline also contains many useful resources for criminology, and public and international affairs, such as the Congressional Record Bound volumes in entirety, complete coverage of the U.S.

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Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

The CGP is the finding tool for federal publications that includes descriptive information for historical and current publications as well as direct links to the full document, when available. Users can search by authoring agency, title, subject, and general keywords, or click on "Advanced Search" for more options.  The catalog offers you the option to find a nearby Federal Depository Library that has a particular publication or that can provide expert assistance in finding and using related U.S. government information. Click on the title of interest from your search results list.

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The National Archives Catalog

Search the National Archives Catalog and other National Archives resources at once for information about their holdings and records.

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Foreign Relations of the United States

from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

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Selected Government Agencies and Websites

National Archives and Records Administration

News from the National Archives as well as links to guides and finding aids for its collections.  A selection of historical documents and online exhibits is also available.

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Library of Congress

"is the nation’s first established cultural institution and the largest library in the world."

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Office of the Historian - U.S. Department of State

The Office of the Historian is staffed by professional historians who are experts in the history of U.S. foreign policy and the Department of State and possess unparalleled research experience in classified and unclassified government records. The Office’s historians work closely with other federal government history offices, the academic historical community, and specialists across the globe. The Office is directed by The Historian of the U.S. Department of State.

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National Parks Service

Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. With the help of volunteers and partners, we safeguard these special places and share their stories with more than 330 million visitors every year. But our work doesn't stop there.

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Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex, with 19 museums and the National Zoo—shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.

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U.S. Department of Justice

To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

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Selected Digitized Collections

The American Presidency Project

The American Presidency Project, non-profit and non-partisan, is the source of presidential documents on the internet.  We are hosted at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  The collections include 130,526 Presidential and Non-Presidential Records

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American Presidency Document Categories

The core of the APP document collection is based on published collections of presidential documents.  Except for recent presidents, these collections omitted many documents such as proclamations, vetoes and orders. So, users should note that prior to 1945, the total number of documents in the APP collection in a specific category is almost certainly smaller than the actual total number. So, based simply on document frequencies, our collection overstates the activity level of the post-FDR presidency compared to earlier years.

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Government Documents A-Z Digitization Project (University of North Texas)

An ongoing project, A-to-Z encompasses U.S. federal government documents published prior to 1960. We are digitizing the documents alphabetically, starting with the call number A, which includes agricultural documents. By popular demand, the A-to-Z Collection also contains vintage War Department field manuals and technical manuals.

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Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States

The Public Papers of the Presidents, which is compiled and published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), began in 1957 in response to a recommendation of the National Historical Publications Commission.

Noting the lack of uniform compilations of messages and papers of the Presidents before this time, the Commission recommended the establishment of an official series in which Presidential writings, addresses, and remarks of a public nature could be made available.

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Gettysburg Address: Primary Documents in American History

The Gettysburg Address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863. This research guide comprises Library of Congress digital materials, external websites, and a print bibliography related to this historic speech.

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