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Question: I am doing research on the social security application (federal document #SS-5), and how it has changed over the years. Where can I look for historical versions of this document?

Answer: That's a tricky one since it says on the current form "Form SS-5 (08-2009) ef (08-2009) Destroy Prior Editions." The various editions of the Social Security Handbook include much information about the SSA's workings -- including about applying for social security with form SS-5 -- but does not include copies of forms.

So the next step is the Social Security Administration itself. The SSA has a History section that would no doubt be able to help, including 3 guides to SSA records. Lastly, you can contact the SSA historian to request copies of historic forms.

Question: Is there a way I can find old movie/film scripts?


For older movie scripts:

For movies made any time:

For movies made in the 1990s and beyond:

Question: I am researching on the negotiating history of article 66.2 of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). I would like to find information on debates that preceded adoption of this Article in the Agreement. I have not been able to find any particular thread in the GATT Archive that would enable me trace this history.

Answer: Thanks for contacting the GATT archive. Here are a few angles to explore in order to trace that history.

Question: I need help locating some data that we are hunting. Specifically, I am interested in finding out the following information for a selected years between 1987 and 2000: The composition of state legislatures (in terms of political parties); Party affiliation of state governors; Maximum welfare or TANF rates for families of 3 by state. I’ve found some of the TANF data in various editions of the Green Book put out by the House Ways and Means Committee, but have not been able to locate TANF data for 1987, 1991 or 1993. Would you mind pointing me to any potential sources of this data?

Answer: Below are some resources in which you'll find the necessary information.

Lastly, you should be able to find Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) data in the annual TANF report hosted on the US Deptartment of health and human services web site. However, TANF only began in 1997, succeeding the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. I found annual data for TANF in one of our subscription databases called "Proquest Statistical Insight" which can be accessed via You should be able to find data on AFDC as well. Don't forget to look at the citations for the data tables. You may not find exactly the variable for which you're looking, but you'll find the agency that published the data (a very important bit of information for tracking down data from the government!)

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you need further information or help.

Question: How do I find out the party affiliation of California city council members?

Answer: City council offices in California are non-partisan offices, which means no party affiliation is declared. You can try to get this information from news sources or articles that may discuss activities of the council members but unless they specifically state their affiliation, you would be inferring this information. For background on non-partisan offices in California, see:

  1. California Constitution, Article 2, Voting, Initiative and Referendum and Recall Sec. 6 (a) All judicial, school, county, and city offices, including the Superintendent of Public Instruction, shall be nonpartisan.
  2. FAQ from the California League of Women Voters
  3. National Association of Counties (NACO), Research Abstract Series, County Elections - Partisan or Non-Partisan? -- State by State, 2007 (PDF).

For more information, please contact Kris Kasianovitz, International, State and Local Government Information Librarian

Question: What are some good resources for researching the pros and cons of a debate topic?

Answer: There are several solid resources that can help you find both sides of an issue. The following guides provide background data and references for more information used in debating many topics:

Question: I'm doing research for a professor, but am having some trouble finding the information and data that he needs.  I'm supposed to make a time trend of U.S. land area in square miles -- one with states plus territory and one with just states.  However, I can't find any sources that track the total U.S. land area over time.  Can you help?

Answer: Here's some information for you on square miles of land area broken down by state. The best part about that table is the citation. It cites the Statistical Abstract of the United States. So I went to the StatAb (one of the most amazing series in our collection IMHO ;-)) and found the data going back in time. The StatAb pulls together statistics from across govt into one handy finding aid -- this particular data e.g. is from the decennial census and so we'll be able to find land area at least every 10 years.Searchworks record for the Statistical Abstract of the US. We have holdings in paper going back to 1878 as well as links to several different digital versions. Here for example is page 5 of 1950 StatAb which lists land area broken down into states and regions. 

There's also the US Census quick facts on land area and the US Gazetteer for further reference.

Question: I'm trying to find information about the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program and was told it could be in some of the government documents at Green but I have no idea where to look. Is there a way you could point me in the right direction?

Answer: You'll be able to find a lot of information and statistics in the federal government documents collection as well as in the secondary literature (journal articles, books, and other library material). Below are a few links to get you started.

My strategy was to look for primary materials (government documents including Congressional hearings, reports and documents, reports from the Congressional Research Service or CRS which is basically Congress' think tank, and reports and statistics from the agencies involved in the program -- Social Security Administration and US department of health and human services) and then look for research and analysis in the secondary resources like books and academic journal articles. Please let us know if you need more information.

Databases to search for secondary literature and research (NOTE: all of these are licensed databases requiring Stanford SUNet ID to access. Here are directions for off-campus proxy access):

Please contact the Information Center for more research assistance.