As the Biden administration begins—and the news fills with a
flurry of presidential activities—now is a great time to brush-up on authoritative sources for presidential documents and materials.
Presidential materials include executive orders, proclamations, memorandum, directives, signing statements, and assorted other documents like speeches and announcements. There are four authoritative government resources publishing these documents: (1) the Federal Register, (2) Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations, (3) the Compilation
of Presidential Documents, and (4) the Public Papers of the President. Current versions of most of these publications are available on GovInfo.gov, which provides free public access to official government publications.
Federal Register is the government's daily publication of agency materials, including presidential documents. You can find recent executive orders on whitehouse.gov, but an official version is published in the Federal Register. Executive orders are perhaps the most
important actions Presidents take; they have become central to modern American
lawmaking. If you’d like more on executive orders specifically, a previous
blog post goes in-depth. On the Federal Register's government site, you can browse presidential documents by topic and
document type, or you can conduct an advanced search to narrow by specific keywords or dates.
Every year, these presidential materials are printed
in Title 3 of the Code
of Federal Regulations (CFR). Once an executive order has been reprinted
in the CFR, you should cite to the CFR version rather than the Federal Register
version. The annual edition of the CFR is available onGovInfo.
Next, the Compilation of
Presidential Documents collects official publication materials released by
the White House Press Secretary. It is an ongoing collection of the Daily and Weekly
Compilations of Presidential Documents. For example, you can find the full transcript of President Biden’s “Remarks
Announcing the National Strategy on COVID-19 and an Exchange with Reporters”
from January 21st. This collection can be browsed chronologically
stretching back to 1992 or keyword searched on GovInfo.
Finally, the Public
Papers of the President are an official publication of the Compilation of
Presidential documents. The Public Papers volumes are published twice a year.
They may include presidential materials not found elsewhere, like a forward written by the President and photographs. They are available online at GovInfo and organized by President. These stretch
all the way back to Herbert Hoover’s presidency. FDR is excluded because his
papers were privately published before publicly publishing them became the
norm. Instead, his public papers are available on HeinOnline, along with select papers of Woodrow Wilson, James Madison, and
the rest of the Public Papers of the President collection.
CFR (Annual Edition)
Papers of the President
Blawg: “Researching Executive Orders – A New Twist”
Posted by Andrew J. Wisniewsky on Wed. February 10, 2021 2:00 PM