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POSC 437: Mass Media and Politics: Federal Government Sources

Research guide for students enrolled in POSC 437.

Executive Branch

Official Websites

  • Executive Orders -- contains information about Executive Orders beginning with those signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and are arranged according to Presidential administration and year of signature. The directory is compiled and maintained by the Office of the Federal Register editors.
  • Presidential Library System -- a nationwide network of Presidential libraries beginning with Herbert Hoover each preserving and making accessible the papers, records, and other historical materials of U.S. Presidents.
  • Compilation of Presidential Documents -- the collection consists of the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents and the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents which are the official publications of materials released by the White House Press Secretary. The collection integrates material from the weekly publication dating from 1993.
  • Whitehouse -- the official website of the White House.

Resources

  • American Presidents: An Online Reference Resoures -- a comprehensive collection of material about the Presidents of the United States and the history of the presidency. This web site features essays about the President's life before, during, and after each presidential term. It additionally provides information about the First Lady and cabinet officials of each administration.
  • The American Presidency Project -- online resource that has consolidated, coded, and organized into a single searchable database thousands of archival documents and government publications on the Executive Branch.
  • Commission on Presidential Debates -- an organization established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.
  • "I Do Solemnly Swear . . .": Presidential Inaugurations -- a collection of approximately 400 items or 2,000 digital files relating to inaugurations from George Washington's in 1789 to Barack Obama's inauguration of 2009. The site 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.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Legislative Branch

Official Websites

  • Congressional Directory--the official directory of the U.S. Congress that contains biographies of each member of the Senate and House, listed by state or district, and additional data, such as committee memberships. Also contains addresses, phone numbers, and other Congressional information. Published since 1888, the online version includes members from 1995 to the present.
  • Government Accountability Office--the GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress to investigate how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. Site includes a searchable database of the agency's reports to Congress.
  • House of Representatives--the official website of the House of Representatives.
  • THOMAS (Library of Congress)--the catalog and database of contemporary Congressional information, including bills, the Congressional Record, hearings, reports, and other Congressional activities.
  • United States Senate--the official website of the Senate.

Resources

  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (1774-present)--database of member of Congress that can be searched by name, position (e.g. Representative, Senator, Delegate), State, Party, and/or Year or Congress in order to create customized lists and to access short biographies.
  • Capitol Spotlight--site features stories written by staff of the Congressional Quarterly publishers, a "Bills to Watch" alert service, and C-SPAN's on-demand video and live streams of House and Senate floor proceedings. Updated daily.
  • A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875.
  • Congressional Bills Project--a relational database of over 400,000 public and private bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate since 1947. The site also serves as a repository for related resources and research papers.
  • Federal Digital System -- FDSys provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of the United States government. The database offers advanced search capabilities and the ability to refine and narrow your search for quick access to the information you need.
  • GovTrack--research tool that helps researchers locate and track activities in the U.S. Congress. The tool can be used to identify the status of U.S. federal legislation, voting records for the Senate and House of Representatives, information on Members of Congress, district maps, as well as congressional committees and the Congressional Record. Also offers the ability to create customized tracking alerts that can be received via RSS Feed or embedded on a website.
  • LegiStorm--as a non-partisan company, LegiStorm is dedicated to providing a variety of important information about the US Congress, including a database of congressional staff salaries and a comprehensive database of all privately financed trips taken by members of Congress and congressional staffers. Also tracks the latest happenings on the House and Senate floors, as well as upcoming floor debates and committee hearings.
  • OpenCongress--a free, open-source, and non-partisan web resource that brings together official government data with news coverage, blog posts, public comments, and more about what's happening in Congress. Great site!
  • Open CRS--provides access to Congressional Research Service Reports released to the public by members of Congress.
  • Project Vote-Smart Congressional Information--rovides links to information on current members of Congress, committees, and Congressional leadership. The link "Congressional Resources" contains links to party organizations, guides to the workings of Congress, and historical/architectural information.
  • United States Congressional Serial Set -- commonly referred to as the Serial Set, this collection contains the House and Senate Documents and the House and Senate Reports. The reports are usually from congressional committees dealing with proposed legislation and issues under investigation. The documents include all other papers ordered printed by the House or Senate. Documents cover a wide variety of topics and may include reports of executive departments and independent organizations, reports of special investigations made for Congress, and annual reports of non-governmental organizations. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, executive-branch materials were also published in the Serial Set.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.

Judicial Branch

Official Websites

  • Office of the Solicitor General -- responsible for supervising and conducting litigation in the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States government.
  • Supreme Court -- the official website of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • U.S. Courts -- the official website of the federal judiciary.

Supreme Court Cases

  • Legal Information Institute -- contains court decisions and opinions from 1990 to the present provided by the Cornell School of Law. The archive can be searched by topic, author, or party involved.
  • Oyez Project -- a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work.
  • Preview of the U.S. Supreme Court Cases -- provides briefs on the merits going back to the Court's 2003 term. Amicus briefs are included, but only for cases from the current term. The site is organized by term and month according to when the cases were argued before the Court. The main Preview page provides links to lists of cases argued in each term listed alphabetically by case name. The "Alphabetical Order (A-Z)" link is for the current term.
  • U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs 1832-1978 -- a fully searchable database of approximately 11 million pages and more than 350,000 separate documents related to the Supreme Court from 1832-1978. Approximately 150,000 Supreme Court cases are featured, the majority consisting of those for which the Court did not give a full opinion.

Supreme Court Briefs and Oral Arguments

Resources

  • C-SPAN America and the Courts: Supreme Court -- provides links to videos, audio, and special programs on the Supreme Court.
  • Findlaw -- searchable database of full-text Supreme Court cases from 1937 to the present as well as federal and state court cases and codes.
  • Judicial Watch -- a conservative educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability, and integrity in government, politics and the law, informs the public about abuses and misconduct by political and judicial officials, and advocates for the need for an ethical, law abiding and moral civic culture.
  • Legal Information Institute Bulletin -- a Cornell Law School electronic journal that posts detailed previews of the U.S. Supreme Court's upcoming cases. Previews are archived back to 2004.
  • The National Law Journal -- provides summaries of the current yearly calendar term ["October Term"] as soon as a decision is granted. In addition, news coverage is gathered from major legal newspapers. Free registration required.
  • Public Library of Law --  a database that provides Appellate and Supreme Court cases for all fifty states from 1997 to the present, all Federal Circuit Court cases from 1950 to the present, and all U.S. Supreme Court cases. The site also provides links to the statutes, constitutions, and court rules from all fifty states, selected state regulations and links to the U.S. Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal court rules.
  • SCOTUSblog -- devoted to comprehensively covering the U.S. Supreme Court without bias. The blog generally reports on every merits case before the Court at least three times: prior to argument; after argument; and after the decision.
  • Supreme Court Database -- contains over two hundred pieces of information about each case decided by the Court between the 1953 and 2008 terms. Examples include the identity of the court whose decision the Supreme Court reviewed, the parties to the suit, the legal provisions considered in the case, and the votes of the Justices.
  • The Supreme Court Historical Society -- a private non-profit organization founded by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger dedicated to the collection and preservation of the history of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Supreme Court Nomination Hearings -- provides information related to nomination hearings through available files for downloading. Note: Due to extremely large file sizes, browse pages based on the Table of Contents for each hearing. Each browse page has a link to the full hearing in PDF format as a ZIP file. You may need WinZip installed on your computer to unzip these files.

Descriptions of resources are adapted or quoted from vendor websites.