Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)

Library Resources for Administrative History: Directories

Three national directories provide general information on the establishment, organization, functions, and personnel of Federal agencies. Two are issued currently and reach chronologically well back in our Federal history.

1935 to date

National Archives and Records Administration. United States Government Manual. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1935-.
REF AE 2. I0812:(year)/GS 4. 109:(year)
Current year: see also GPO FDsys.
Note: The Manual is published as a special edition of the Federal Register. Its focus is on programs and activities. Persons interested in detailed organizational structure, the regulatory documents of an agency, or Presidential documents should refer to the Federal Register or one of its other special editions. Published annually by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration, since 1948. First issued in 1935 by the National Emergency Council, superseding its Daily Revised Manual of Emergency Recovery Agencies and Facilities Provided by the United States Government. Three editions, 1935, 1936, and 1937-39, were each in looseleaf form and revised by adding and substituting new pages.
As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. The Manual also includes information on quasi-official agencies, international organizations in which the United States participates, boards, committees, and commissions.
Appendix C lists Federal Executive Agencies Terminated, Transferred, or Changed in Name Subsequent to March 4, 1933.
Boyd, p. 110; Morehead, p. 160; Schmeckebier, p. 399-400.

1821 to date

United States Congress. Joint Committee on Printing. Official Congressional Directory. Washington: Government Printing Office; 18?- to date.
REF Y 4.P 93/1
For current directory, see also GPO FDsys and Senate and House of Representatives web sites.
The National Archives Library has directories from the 46th Congress to date and scattered ones from the 32d to the 43d Congress.
Note: The Congressional Directory has been the official handbook for the Congress since 1821 and is also widely used by Federal agency officials and the general public. Historically, the book has been one of the most comprehensive and detailed resources for identifying the components of the three branches of Federal Government.
The earliest manual of which the Superintendent of Documents has information is that of the 11th Congress (1809). Until 1847 the manual was compiled and printed as a private venture. Since 1848 it has been known as the "Official Congressional Directory". It is now published annually. The Directory contains biographies of current members of Congress, State delegations, alphabetical list of members with home session statistics, Capitol information, Executive departments' descriptions, Judiciary information, maps and press information.


United States Congress. Joint Committee on Printing. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-1989: The Continental Congress September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States from the first through the one hundredth Congresses March 4, 1789, to January 3, 1989, inclusive. Bicentennial ed. 100/2:S.doc.100-34 [Serial set 13849]. Washington, Government Printing Office; 1989. xi, 2104 p.
REF JK1010.U5.1989/Serial set 13849
Note: Cited as the Biographical Directory. Members of the administrations of George Washington to Ronald W. Reagan and members of Congress from the Continental Congress (1774) to the 100th Congress (1988-1989) are listed by Administration or Congress. The broad sweep of the Biographical Directory makes it a valuable source for American social as well as political history.
The bicentennial edition of the Biographical Directory is part of a tradition dating back to Charles Lanman's Dictionary of Congress, first published in 1859. Various private editions appeared in the 19th century and congressional staff compiled six editions in this century. The new volume, however, is the first prepared by a straff of professional historians.
The new edition contains substantial revisions in form and content. All chairmen of standing committees and all major, formal leadership positions are noted. For the first time, entries include bibliographical citations. The most important changes result from a complete reexamination of all party labels. Earlier volumes failed to account for short-lived and regional parties from the 19th century and many party designations were anachronistic, claiming for today's Democratic and Republican parties Members who served long before thos parties were founded.
Boyd, p. 70; Morehead, p. 113; Schmeckebier, p. 184-185.


Official Register of the United States: Persons Occupying Administrative and Supervisory Positions in the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches of the Federal Government, and in the District of Columbia Government. Washington: Government Printing Office; 1816-1959.
Archives I, room G-30 REF CS 1.31: {all issues shelved with CS 1.31:}
The National Archives Library has a long set: 1819, 1829- 1831, 1835-1959.
Note: Titles vary. Popularly known as "The Blue Book" because they were bound in blue. Published by the State Department from 1816 through 1860 [S 1.11:]; by the Interior Department from 1861 to 1905 [I 1.25:]; by the Census Bureau from 1908 to 1932 [C 3.10:]; and by the Civil Service Commission form 1933-1959 [CS 1.31:].
Until 1913 the Official Register included a list of vessels owned by the United States and until the early part of the 20th century it contained a nearly complete list of United States employees. Since 1877 it has included a name index. The Official Register was published biennially until 1923.
Boyd, p. 453; 1909 Checklist, p. 908, 439-440, 321.