Guide to Federal Records

Publications of the U.S. Government

(Record Group 287)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 287.1 Administrative History
  • 287.2 Publications of the U.S. Government 1790-1984

287.1 Administrative History

Finding Aids: Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications [title since January 1940; variously titled during the period January 1895-December 1939] (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1895- ). Catalog(ue) of the Public Documents of the ...Congress and of All Departments of the Government of the United States for the Period[covers the period 1893- 1940; short title, Document Catalog(ue)] (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1896-1945). Checklist of U.S. Public Documents, 1789-1909 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1911). Donna Andriot, ed., Guide to U.S. Government Publications, rev. ed. (McLean, VA: Documents Index, Inc., 1994). William W. Buchanan and Edna A. Kaneley, comps., Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, 1900-1971, 15 vols. (Washington, DC: Carrollton Press, Inc., 1974). Daniel W. Lester, Sandra Faull, and Lorraine Lester, comps., Cumulative Title Index to U.S. Public Documents, 1789-1976, 16 vols. (Arlington, VA: U.S. Historical Documents Institute, Inc., 1979).

Related Records: Records of the Government Printing Office, RG 149.


This record group is a collection of selected publications of U.S. Government agencies, arranged according to a classification system ("SuDoc System") devised by the Office of the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office (GPO). The core of the collection is a library that was maintained by GPO's Public Documents Division during the period 1895-1972, and whose contents were arranged according to the SuDoc System. The library was begun in 1895 following the establishment in GPO of the position of Superintendent of Documents by an act of January 12, 1895 (28 Stat. 601), with responsibility for the cataloging, sale, and distribution of Federal Government publications. By 1972, when the National Archives acquired the library, it included official publications dating from the early years of the Federal Government, acquired by the Public Documents Division from public and private sources; selected publications produced for Federal Government agencies by GPO; and selected publications printed by the agencies themselves using their own facilities or private contractors. The library portion of the collection has been augmented since 1972 with accessions of multiyear blocs of U.S. Government publications, selected by the Office of the Superintendent of Documents as a by-product of its monthly cataloging activity.

Note: The publications included in this collection are record, or preservation, copies of works often available to researchers at many of the 1,400 Congressionally designated depository libraries throughout the United States. Only about one-half to two-thirds of all U.S. Government publications are represented in this collection.

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287.2 Publications of the U.S. Government

Textual Records: Selected U.S. Government publications, 1790-1984, consisting of monographs, multivolume sets of books and magazines, guides, manuals, circulars, bulletins, indexes, reports, and regulations. Because of their nature as publications of various Federal Government agencies, the textual records allocated to this record group are cited in the Related Records blocs of other record group chapters of this guide, as applicable.

Maps and Charts: Incomplete record set of maps published by various Federal Government agencies, ca. 1850-1970 (50,000 items).

Photographic Prints, Posters, and Graphs : Published by various Federal Government agencies, 1871-1970 (9,500 images).

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.

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