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Genealogical Sources in Government Information   Tags: geneaology, government information, research  

Western's half million government publications includes some material useful to genealogical researchers.
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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World War II Enlistees

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  • Find-it! Washington  
    An online search tool developed to help Washington State citizens find government information. Web documents from around the state, government publications available at public and state libraries, and government information and services maintained by the State Dept. of Information Services are included.

Depository Collections

Western is a depository library for U.S. government publications.  The federal government sends WWU thousands of publications, which the university promises to make available to the public. Western has been a depository since the 1960s and has hundreds of thousands of federal publications.

Western is also a depository for Washington state and Canadian federal documents.  Besides paper, fiche, CD-ROMs and posters, Western sometimes receives exclusive access to federal websites.  For example, the Homeland Security Digital Library is only available through depository libraries.

Most government documents circulate.  They can be checked out by anyone with valid identification, not just Western students.

If you need help please call the Reference Desk at 360-650-3094 or contact Rob Lopresti.

Census Data about Individuals

The forms filled out by individuals are released 72 years after the Census is taken.  Western has most of this data for Washington and Oregon.

Congressional Serial Set

The Congressional Serial Set (also known as the Sheepskin Set) consists of hundreds of thousands of reports to and from Congress.  Categories of possible interest to genealogists are reports on private bills (e.g. "Mesita Juana Lopez, private land claim in New Mexico,") petitions to the government ("James Bradford and others, hunters of Oregon, petition of, to settle on Columbia River"), and lists of government employees ("Names of all persons employed in branches of War Department, except officers of the Army, 1849").

Western Libraries has an index to the Serial Set, covering 1789-1969, and owns several thousands of the Serial Set volumes. 

Some volumes of the Serial Set are available free via the Library of Congress's Century of Law-Making.  All volumes from 1995 forward are online through the Government Printing Office.


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Rob Lopresti
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