Presidential Documents

Posted Jan. 25, 2010.
Prepared by Peggy Jarrett

The most commons forms of presidential lawmaking are executive orders and proclamations. Generally, executive orders relate to the conduct of business of the executive branch and are directed to executive agencies. Proclamations are mostly ceremonial, although some, usually dealing with trade matters, are substantive.

Research Guides

Presidential Documents (ASU Law Library)

Presidential Documents Research Guide (Georgetown Law Library)


Compilation of Presidential Documents consists of the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents (2009�date; online only) and its predecessor, the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents.

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1965-2008. J80.A284 at Reference Area
Contains material released by the White House during the preceding week. Content varies, but may include statements, remarks, interviews, appointments and nominations, proclamations, executive orders, and communications to Congress and Federal agencies. Available on GPO FDsys and HeinOnline (UW Restricted).

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, 1929-date. J80.A283 at Classified Stacks  (lack 1934-1944)
Annual series compiled by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. Older volumes were edited version of material published in the Weekly Compilation. In 1977, the series was expanded to include everything from the Weekly Compilation, but starting in 1989 executive orders and proclamations were omitted. Instead, each volume has a table of EOs and proclamations citing to the Federal Register.
Available on GPO Access (1991-date) and Hein Online (UW Restricted).

Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations, 1936-date. KF70.A47 at Reference Area
Contains all Presidential documents required to be published in the Federal Register plus a codification of regulations issued by the Executive Office of the President.

Hein Online > U.S. Presidential Library (UW Restricted)

The American Presidency Project is an online searchable archive maintained by UC Santa Barbara. It includes executive orders, proclamations, signing statements, and veto messages. Good historical collection.

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Presidential Documents Guide describes types of documents and where to find them. The Presidential Materials guide provides links to and information about Presidential Libraries (from Herbert Hoover forward).

See Gallagher Law Library News articles for more on Presidential Directives and Presidential Signing Statements.