U.S. Code (44 U.S.C. 1901) defines a government document as "...informational matter which is published as an individual document at government expense or as required by law.” Every governmental division produces documents, images, or artifacts that belong to the citizens of the United States and can be accessed through a variety of means online, by written request, through the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], or by walking into many institutions and using their libraries or other resource station.
This guide is intended for teachers to use with their students as resources as well as guides for lessons, primary sources, data and other information.
This box highlights government sites that offer access to wide-ranging information across many agencies. Browse here to find the depth of these sites - there are lessons, data, links and information directed to citizens.
Govinfo provides free online access to official publications from all three branches of Federal Government. There is a "Features” section for special content as well as sections for recent publications and trending publications.
Free access to many government publications!
Find government information on education, including primary, secondary, and higher education.
Educational resources for students in Spanish.
The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) is a finding tool for electronic and print publications from legislative, executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government. The CGP is produced and maintained by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). The catalog is comprehensive from 1976 to the present and contains records for current and historical U.S. government publications. It also provides links to online versions when available.
BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download from the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), is a web-based service that provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music scores from the NLS collection that are selected based on their appeal to a wide range of interests. There are more than 115,000 audio and braille fiction and non-fiction titles available and over ninety magazine titles available. BARD is password-protected, and all files are in an electronic downloadable form of compressed audio or formatted braille. BARD is a partnership between NLS and a network of cooperating libraries in the United States and its territories. NLS maintains the website, uploads titles, and supplies libraries with circulation statistics. Network libraries approve reader applications, respond to reader inquiries, and provide technical support.
Provides information and resources to prevent and stop bullying and cyber bullying.
Go here to find websites that once existed but are no longer active. (This may include links that no longer work).
The CyberCemetary was named by early users of the database and is an archive of government websites and publications that have ceased operation. The University of North Texas Libraries and the U.S. Government printing office, as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, created CyberCemetary through a partnership to provide permanent access to websites and publications from defunct U.S. Government agencies and commissions.
End of Term Archive
The End of Term Web Archive captures and saves U.S. Government websites at the end of presidential administrations. Beginning in 2008, the EOT has thus far preserved websites from administration changes in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
This archived website includes links to Federal kids' sites along with kids' sites from other organizations. Site resources are divided by broad grade level: grades K-5, teens grades 6-8, and grownups. Within the grade levels the site is grouped by broad subjects: government, elections, organizations, online safety, arts, careers, geography, science, health, etc. Includes links to educational games and videos
Available free (PDF format) from the U.S. Government Bookstore!
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
From the Constitution of the U.S. to the flight plan of Apollo 11, these are the important documents that make up U.S. history.
A wealth of information about historical documents as well as current legislation and all things Congress.
•Library of Congress
From Carla Hayden, the Librarian of Congress:"
The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors. Whether you are new to the Library of Congress or an experienced researcher, we have a world-class staff ready to assist you online and in person."
•National Archives and Records Administration
From the NARA site:
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by us forever.
Those valuable records are preserved and are available to you, whether you want to see if they contain clues about your family's history, need to prove a veteran's military service, or are researching a historical topic that interests you.
The wealth of materials from this Institution provides resources for every subject and interest. Made up of research centers, libraries, publishing entities, and a zoo, the Smithsonian Institute is a go-to site for educators.
Learning about how the U.S. government operates can be loads of fun for teachers and students. Here are a few starters for your lesson planning:
•Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government
"Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government, a service of the Government Publishing Office (GPO), is designed to inform students, parents, and educators about the Federal Government, which issues the publications and information products disseminated by the GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program. It is our hope that Ben’s Guide to the U.S. Government fulfills that role." -- From Ben's Guide "About this site" web page.
•Symbols of the U.S. Government: Ben’s Activity Book
Print out this workbook full of full games, coloring pages, and historical information!
Founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, this site offers games, lessons, and other materials for classroom and at-home teaching and learning.
•Chidlren’s Books and Web Sites about the U.S. Government (United States Senate)
Free resources: Campaigns and Elections; Congress; The Constitution; The Flag; How Government Works; The Judiciary; The Presidency; and The Story of the U.S.A.
•Use the sites listed above such as: kids.gov, govinfo.info, usa.gov to find materials from a variety of agencies on how the government works.