Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Primary Sources: Government

Primary Government Sources

Government Sources

A government’s documents are direct evidence of its activities, functions, and policies. For any research that relates to the workings of government, government documents are indispensible primary sources.

A wide range of primary sources are found in government documents: the hearings and debates of legislative bodies; the official text of laws, regulations and treaties; records of government expenditures and finances; statistical compilations such as census data; investigative reports; scientific data; and many other sources that touch virtually all aspects of society and human endeavor. This information comes in a similarly wide variety of formats, including books, periodicals, maps, CD-ROMs, microfiche, and online databases

Web Searching Strategies

Document the Source Most writing styles require certain information for citing Web sites. When keeping notes write the URL, the date you accessed and the description of the site. If the URL changes you may need to search for it later.

Evaluate the Web site Don't believe everything you read!

Google Scholar If you need to use the Internet for research use limits under <More> on Google home page or try the Google Scholar link in the box on this page.

Web search engines Not all search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Ask.com, etc.) are the same. Each has strengths and weaknesses. Search engines do not search all of the Internet.

Wikipedia is not a scholarly Web site but it may be a starting point for definitions or to help identify names when you haven't a clue where to begin.