Researching Presidential Materials: Key Resources to Know

  • E-mail E-mail
  • Google+
  • Reddit Reddit

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.

First, the 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.

Resources Master-List:

·       The Federal Register

·       Whitehouse.gov

·       CFR (Annual Edition)

·       Compilation of Presidential Documents

·       Public Papers of the President

       Carolina Blawg: “Researching Executive Orders – A New Twist”



Posted by Andrew J. Wisniewsky on Wed. February 10, 2021 2:00 PM
Categories: Uncategorized


If you are seeing this, you are either using a non-graphical browser or Netscape 4.x (4.7, 4.8, etc.) and this page appears very plain. If you are using a 4.x version of Netscape, this site is fully functional but lacks styles and optimizations available in other browsers. For full functionality, please upgrade your browser to the latest version of Internet Explorer or Firefox.