U.S. Genealogy Resources


Government documents are an often overlooked source of information for genealogical research. Some documents, like registers of employees or military personnel and indexes to patents and trademarks, provide information on identifiable individuals. Others offer a wealth of statistical information. Still others give historical accounts perhaps on branches of the military or historic sites and buildings.

The Government Documents Department, on the second floor of Cornette Library, collects the publications of both the federal and Texas state governments. The items shown below are not a comprehensive listing of documents of interest for your research. You may wish to browse the collection or consult Andriot's Guide to U.S. Government Publications to find additional documents. Many of the older documents are fragile and should be used with care. If you need assistance, please ask at the Government Documents Desk.

Documents Finding Aids

Both print and electronic finding aids are available to help you find government documents. Should you need assistance using these, please check with the Government Documents staff.

Keep in mind that the federal government is not static. With the growth in land area, population, and American involvement throughout the world, the government expanded and changed. Because federal documents are shelved by the department, bureau, agency, or office that published them, tracking information over time can be challenging. For example, the U.S. Army resided in the Department of War from 1789 to 1947 when it became part of the National Military Establishment. Two years later the newly created Department of Defense absorbed the military branches. This means that publications relating to the U.S. Army are shelved under the Department of War, the National Military Establishment, and the Department of Defense. Each document has a number called a Superintendent of Documents number that designates its place on the shelf.

Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government (1881-1940)
Government Documents Reference
Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications (1913/14-)
Government Documents Reference
Cumulative Subject Index to the Monthly Catalog of United States Government Documents (1900-1971)
Government Documents Reference
Guide to U.S. Government Publications
Government Documents Desk
GPO Monthly Catalog
electronic version; 1976-present - WTAMU only
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
electronic version; 1976-present - free from GPO Access
Cornette Library's online catalog
primarily federal government documents published after 1994

Department of Agriculture

Since its creation in 1862, The Department of Agriculture has conducted research and distributed information to the American public. Many of its publications are helpful for researching agricultural practices, crops grown, weather, and other agriculture-related topics. The list below includes major publications of the Department.

Annual Reports (beginning with 1862)
A 1.1:
Department Circulars on various topics
A 1.4/2
Farmers' Bulletins
A 1.9:
Yearbook of Agriculture
A 1.10:
An Historical Survey of American Agriculture: The Farmer's Changing World: A Brief Chronology of American Agricultural History.
A 1.10a:1783
Statistical Bulletins
A 1.34
Fluctuations in Crops and Weather 1866-1948 (Statistical Bulletin No. 101)
A 1.34:101
Agricultural Statistics
A 1.47

Department of Commerce

When it was established in 1903, the Department of Commerce and Labor assumed the functions of some agencies in the Treasury Department, the State Department, and the Department of the Interior. Among them were lighthouses, navigation, standards, census, statistics, and immigration. The Department split into two separate departments in 1913 creating the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor.

Bureau of the Census (1903-1972, 1975-)

Following its establishment in 1902 as the United States Census Office within the Department of the Interior, this Office was transferred to the Department of Commerce and Labor in 1903 and renamed the Bureau of the Census. For earlier publications refer to the Census Office publications under the Department of the Interior.

Bureau of the Census publications are rich in statistical information. The federal government gathers statistics on many topics and analyzes, compiles, and publishes these statistics. You'll find statistical data on agriculture, manufacturing, municipal elections, the insane and feeble-minded, marriage and divorce, mines and quarries, mortality, births, religious bodies, working women, and wealth, debt, and taxation. Some specific documents are listed below. NOTE: Government documents relating to the decennial censuses do not list individuals persons' names but rather provide statistical information.

Statistical Directory of State Institutions for the Defective, Dependent, Delinquent Classes
C 3.2:D36
Indian Population in the United States and Alaska, 1910
C 3.2:IN23
Negro Population, 1790-1915
C 3.2:N31
Negroes in the United States, 1920-32
C 3.2:N312
A Century of Population Growth from the First Census of the United States to the Twelfth, 1790-1900
C 3.2:P81
Population of States and Counties of the United States, 1790-1990
C 3.2:P81/26
Official Register of the United States: Persons in the Civil, Military, and Naval Services (1907-1932, irregular)
C 3.10

Department of Defense

The Department of Defense was established in 1949. Earlier military-related documents are shelved with the National Military Establishment, the Department of the Navy for sea forces, and the Department of War for land forces.

Department of the Air Force

Earlier records for the Department of the Air Force are shelved with the National Military Establishment (1947-1949).

Air Force Chaplains
D 301.2:C363
The U.S. Air Force Reference Series
D 301.82/
The U.S. Air Service in World War I
D 301.82/2:
The Army Air Forces in World War II
D 301.82:4

Department of the Army

The Department of the Army joined the Department of Defense in 1949. Earlier documents are shelved with the Department of War from 1789 to 1947 and the National Military Establishment from 1947 to 1949.

Army Medical Department

The Department was created in 1950. Earlier records are shelved with the Department of War (1818-1947) and the National Military Establishment (1947-1947).

World War II Series
D 104:11

Center of Military History

Previously the Historical Division under the National Military Establishment (1947-1949), the Center transferred to the Department of the Army in 1949. Its name changed to the Office of the Chief of Military History in 1950 and to the Center of Military History in 1974.

United States Army in World War II
D 114.7:

Corps of Engineers

The Corps of Engineers, previously the Engineer Department in the Department of War (1802-1947) and the National Military Establishment (1947-1949), transferred to the Department of Defense in 1949.

Histories of various Corps of Engineers districts
D 103:

Quartermaster Corps

The Quartermaster Corps, the Army's supply corps, became a part of the Department in 1949. Earlier records are shelved with the Department of War Quartermaster's Department (1812-1912) and the National Military Establishment (1947-1949) under the Quartermaster General of the Army.

Quartermaster Support of the Army: A History of the Corps, 1775-1939
D 106.83 Q2
QMC Historical Studies
D 106.8:

Department of the Navy

From 1789 to 1798, the Secretary for the Department of War headed naval affairs. In 1798 the Department of the Navy was established. It was incorporated into National Military Establishment in 1947 and transferred into the Department of Defense in 1949.

Civil War Naval Chronology, 1861-65
D 207.2: C49
Naval Documents of the American Revolution
D 207.10
The Naval War of 1812
D 207.10/2: H621
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
D 207.12

Marine Corps

Earlier documents for the Marine Corps are shelved with the Department of the Navy (1798-1947) and the National Military Establishment (1947-1949).

Marines in the Revolution
D 214.13:R32/775-83
Marines in the Spanish-American War, 1895-1899
D 214.13:SP2
History of the US Marine Corps Operations in World War II
D 214.13:W89

Department of the Interior

At its inception in 1849, the Department took responsibility for the General Land Office, the Office of Indian Affairs, the Pension Office, and the Patent Office. Public buildings, the penitentiary of Washington, D.C., the United Census, and mining also came under its purview.

Annual Reports (beginning with 1889)
I 1.1:
Official Register of the United States Containing a List of the Officers and Employees in the Civil, Military, and Naval Services, Together with a List of Vessels Belonging to the United States : volume 2. The Post Office Department and the Postal Service
I 1.25:905v2

Bureau of Land Management (1946-)

A History of the Rectangular Survey Systems
I 53.2:Su7/2:
Surveys and Surveyors of the Public Domain, 1785-1975
I 53.2:Su7/785-975

United States Geological Survey (1879-)

Twenty-first Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey to the Secretary of the Interior, 1899-1900, Part VII - Texas
I 19.1:899-900/pt7
Maps Can Help You Trace Your Family Tree: How to Use Maps in Genealogy.
I 19.15/3:M32

Department of the Navy

The Department saw its beginning in 1798. For the previous 9 years, the Secretary for the Department of War oversaw naval affairs. In 1947 the Department became part of the National Military Establishment, and two years later it came under the Department of Defense.

Annual Report
N 1.1
Register of the Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps (1908, 1911, 1923-1945)
N 1.10:
Compilation of Court-Martial Orders for the Years 1916-1937
N 1.14:1
Uniform Regulations United States Navy Together with Uniform Regulations Common to Both Navy and Marine Corps, 1913
N 1.18:913
State Summary of War Casualties (1946)
N 1.34:

Bureau of Medicine & Surgery (1842-1947)

Medical Department of the U.S. Navy with the Army and Marine Corps in France in World War I
N 10.2:M46/3

Bureau of Naval Personnel (1942-1947)

Officers and Enlisted Men of the United States Navy Who Lost Their Lives During the World War, from April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
N 17.2: W89

Naval Records and Library Office (1915-1947)

Official Records of Union and Confederate Navies in the War of Rebellion
N 16.6:

Office of Naval Operations (1915-1947)

United States Navy at War, 1941-1945
N 27.1:941-944

Department of State

The State Department was established in 1789.

Messages and Documents of the Department of State (1868-1869, 1872-1873, 1880-1881)
S 1.1:
Foreign Relations of the United States
S 1.1:
Register of the Department of State (beginning with 1929)
S 1.6:
Foreign Service List (beginning with 1929)
S 1.7:
Territorial Papers of the United States
S 1.36:
(see also General Services Administration - National Archives and Records Service)
Biographical Register (1954, 1957-1973)
S 1.69:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Nationwide Gravesite Locator
Search for burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.

Department of War

The Department of War came into being in 1789 at the end of the Revolutionary War. It became the Department of the Army with establishment of the National Military Establishment in 1947. Two years later it became one of the military departments in the newly established Department of Defense.

Annual Report (1874, 1899, 1908-1941)
W 1.1

Adjutant General's Department (1913-1947)

Official Army Register (1920-1947)
W 3.11:

Medical Department (1818-1947)

The Medical Department of the U.S. Army in the World War
W 44.19:

War Records Office (1878-1899)

War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
W 44.19:
online version

General Services Administration

GSA was established in 1949.

National Archives and Records Service (1949-1985)

In 1985 NARS became the National Archives and Records Administration.

Guide to Cartographic Records in the National Archives
GS 4.6/2:C24
Guide to Records in the National Archives of the United States Relating to American Indians
GS 4.6/28 Am3
Index, Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789
GS 4.2:C76/2/774-89
Index, The Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789
GS 4.2:C76/3/774-89
Territorial Papers of the United States
GS 4.13:24 (see also Department of State)
Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War
GS 4.62:C49
Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate States of America
GS 4.62:C76

Library of Congress

The long history of the nation's library began in 1800.

Records of the Virginia Company
LC 1.11:V81
Family Ties in England, Scotland, Wales, & Ireland
LC 1.2: F 21
Genealogical Research at the Library of Congress
LC 1.2: G 28/999
Generations Past: A Selected List of Sources for Afro-American Genealogical Research
LC 1.12/2:Af8/4
Revolutionary America, 1763-1789: A Bibliography
LC 1.12/2:R32/4/1763-1789/
Letters of Delegates to Congress
LC 1.34:1
Online
Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789
LC 4.5:2
Online
Genealogies Cataloged by the Library of Congress Since 1986
LC 30.27:G28

National Archives & Records Administration

Since its creation in 1934, the National Archives has been the repository of the nation's archival records. In July 1949 the National Archives was transferred to the General Services Administration, and was renamed the National Archives and Records Service later that year. Its name changed again in 1985 to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States
AE 1.108: G 94
Research in the Land Entry Files of the General Land Office (Record Group 49)
AE 1.113:49
Using the Census Soundex
AE 1.113:55/
Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: "The American Soldier" Surveys
AE 1.124:78
World War II Records in the Cartographic and Architectural Branch of the National Archives
AE 1.124:79
Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: American Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees
AE 1.124:80/999
Records Relating to Personal Participation in World War II: Military Awards and Decorations
AE 1.124:92
Presidential Libraries Holdings Relating to Prisoners of War and Missing in Action
AE 1.124:104
Records of Military Agencies Relating to African Americans for the Post-World War I Period to the Korean War
AE 1.124:105
Black Family Research: Records of Post-Civil War Federal Agencies at the National Archives
AE 1.124:108

National Military Establishment

Department of the Army

Historical Division

Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War (1917-19) Zone of the Interior
M 103.2:W89 v3/pt.1
United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919
M 103.9:1

Department of the Navy

Bureau of Naval Personnel

United States Navy Chaplains, 1778-1945
M 206.2.C36/778-945

Any questions? Ask a Librarian, or call us at 806/651-2205.