Georgetown Law
Georgetown Law Library

Presidential Documents Research Guide

This guide focuses on Executive Orders, Proclamations and Presidential Signing Statements.

Contents

Key to Icons

  • Georgetown only
  • On Westlaw
  • On Lexis
  • On Bloomberg
  • PDF
  • More Info (hover)
  • Preeminent Treatise
  • Study Aid

Introduction

Presidential documents include Executive Orders and proclamations, as well as other documents such as determinations, letters, memorandums, and reorganization plans. This guide focuses on the most important Presidential documents for legal research: Executive Orders and proclamations.

This guide also covers Presidential Signing Statements. When the President signs a bill into law, the President may issue a statement explaining the reasons for approving the legislation. These statements were traditionally brief and generally did not contain substantive analysis of the legislation. However, in recent administrations they have been used more vigorously and have become a subject of controversy. There is disagreement about their role in and importance to legislative history.

This guide describes these materials and where to find them in print, on the web, through subscription databases, and on microfiche.

Getting Started

ProQuest Congressional. Executive Branch Documents (1789-1948) and Presidential Materials (1789-Present) are part of the ProQuest Congressional database. To limit your search to these materials, from Advanced Search under Legislative & Executive Publications, please deselect all, then select Executive Branch Documents and Presidential Materials only.

American Presidency Project. A major repository of presidential documents created by the University of California, Santa Barbara, the American Presidency Project includes State of the Union addresses, presidential commencement speeches, as well as addresses to Foreign governments and the United Nations.

Compilation of Presidential Documents. GovInfo makes the Compilation of Presidential Documents available from 1992 until present. Using the Advanced Search feature on GovInfo, researchers can search the Compilation of Presidential Documents by keyword or date. The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (1965-2009) is available on HeinOnline and updated by the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents.

Presidential End of Term Web Archive. The End of Term Web Archive started as a partnership between the International Internet Preservation Consortium and National Digital Infrastructure and Preservation Program.  Their goal was to archive the web at the end of presidential administrations -- beginning with George W. Bush -- in order to capture federal government websites before they changed during the next administration. The archive is full-text searchable and browsable, though still fairly rudimentary.  It includes all three branches of government and covers a few months preceding and after the new term.  New partners have since joined and the Archive continues to grow and evolve while providing access to materials across presidential administrations. It is only current through 2017.

Public Papers of the President. One very convenient source for Presidential public messages, speeches, and statements is the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States series (Stacks J80 .A283). This series is published by the National Archives and Records. Dates of coverage for the print series are: 1929-1933 and 1945-2012. The Public Papers set is the cumulation of the Weekly Compilations of Presidential Compilations. Additionally, HeinOnline includes the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States in its U.S. Presidential Library, and GovInfo includes the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States since Herbert Hoover. Finally, Lexis has a database of Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, with coverage beginning January 20, 1981.

President Years Access

Hoover

1929-1933

Print, HeinOnline, GovInfo

Franklin D. Roosevelt

1933-1945

HeinOnline

Truman

1945-1953

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Eisenhower

1953-1961

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Kennedy

1961-1963

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Johnson

1963-1969

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Nixon

1969-1974

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Ford

1974-1977

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Carter

1977-1981

PrintHeinOnlineGovInfo

Reagan

1981-1989

PrintHeinOnline, LexisGovInfo

Bush

1989-1993

PrintHeinOnlineLexisGovInfo 

Clinton

1993-2001

Print, HeinOnlineLexisGovInfo

Bush

2001 - 2008

Print, HeinOnlineLexisGovInfo

Obama

2009 - 2017

PrintHeinOnlineLexisGovInfo

 

Trump

2017 -  2021

Lexis 

Biden

2021 -

Lexis

Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents1789-1897. Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents is a 10 volume set that contains documents from George Washington through William McKinley. It is also available on HeinOnline and LLMC Digital.

Law Library Reference

Photo of Williams Law Library

Reference Desk:
Atrium, 2nd (Main) Floor
(202) 662-9140

Request a Research Consultation

 

Update History

Updated 9/17 (MK)
Links 11/18 (SB)
Updated 3/21 (MK)