Office of the Federal Register (OFR)

Public Papers of the Presidents

Online Availability:  1929 through January 2017
Issued:  Discontinued

The OFR began compiling and publishing the Public Papers of the Presidents (“Public Papers”) 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 that 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.

Volumes covering the administrations of Presidents Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama are currently included in the Public Papers series. Originally, each volume covered approximately one year.  As of 1965, each volume covers approximately six months.

NOTE: The papers of President Franklin Roosevelt were published privately before the commencement of the official Public Papers series.

Each Public Papers volume contains the papers and speeches of the President of the United States that were issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary during the time period specified by the volume. The material is presented in chronological order, and the dates shown in the headings are the dates of the documents or events. In instances when the release date differs from the date of the document itself, that fact is shown in the text note.

To ensure accuracy, remarks have been checked against audio recordings (when available) and signed documents have been checked against the original, unless otherwise noted. OFR editors have provided text notes and cross references for purposes of identification or clarity. Speeches were delivered in Washington, DC, unless otherwise indicated. The times noted are local times.

Beginning in 1965, the appendices to the Public Papers contain additional material that was previously published in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (Weekly Compilation).  The Weekly compilation was replaced in 2009 with the online Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents (Daily Compilation). Initially begun as a companion to the Public Papers series, the Compilation (first the Weekly and then its Daily replacement) provides a broader range of Presidential materials more frequently to meet the needs of the contemporary reader. This expanded coverage in the Public Papers provided by the appendices in each Public Papers volume provides listings of:

  • The President's daily schedule and meetings, when announced, and other items of general interest issued by the Office of the Press Secretary;
  • The President's nominations submitted to the Senate;
  • A checklist of materials released by the Office of the Press Secretary that are not printed full-text in the book; and
  • A table of Proclamations, Executive orders, and other Presidential documents released by the Office of the Press Secretary and published in the Federal Register

Each Public Papers volume features a foreword signed by the President, and a portfolio of photographs selected from White House Photo Office files, as well as subject and name indexes, and a document categories list.

Printed Editions

Volumes of the Public Papers of the Presidents currently in print are available for purchase from the Government Publishing Office (GPO) Superintendent of Documents.  Volumes are available until sold out.

Online Editions

The complete collection is available online as PDF files from GPO’s (GovInfo) Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States website.  GPO began digitizing the print volumes of George H.W. Bush in 2009 and completed digitizing the Hoover print volumes in 2019.

Through a partnership between the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)'s Office of Presidential Libraries and OFR, individual documents in the collection are broken out and available for:

cover image of volume II of Obama 2016 to 2017