Databases of the week: the world of US government information

September 24, 2019
Mr. James R. (Librarian) Jacobs

Welcome to the fall 2019 quarter at Stanford libraries. We're here for all of your information and data needs, and it all starts at One of the ways we do that is to subscribe to databases of various types of content and information - journal articles, news, ebooks, archival resources, statistics and data, images, streaming video,  and more. We currently have 2550(!) databases on the library's databases page. See for all of the information riches.

Because we have so many databases available to the Stanford community, we thought it'd be a good idea to highlight some of the favorites of our subject expert librarians. So every Tuesday, we'll write a blog post highlighting 5 databases that we know and love. Each week, we'll focus on a subject, area, or content type (govt information, news, history, scientific information, statistics etc). Happy information exploration!

Today's featured databases center around US government information. 

  • The world of US government information begins with Proquest Congressional Publications (along with its sisters Legislative Insight, Regulatory Insight, and Supreme Court Insight). Congressional Publications is a full text database of Congressional and executive branch information going back to the 1780s. It covers the entire legislative process - bills, hearings, Congressional Record, Congressional reports and documents (AKA the United States Serial Set), Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports - as well as historical executive branch documents and reports (1789-1948). 


  • HeinOnline is primarily a legal database. It contains full-text access to legal journals, but also a plethora of important historic government publications from Congress and the executive and judicial branches, like the US Code, Statutes at Large, Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations, Presidential and Supreme Court libraries. It also includes case law and government materials from US states, United Kingdom, Canada and international organizations.


  • Govinfo and MetaLib - The Government Publishing Office (GPO) produces 2 free databases of note: Govinfo and MetaLib. Govinfo provides free public access to official government publications from all three branches of the Federal Government - mostly from 1994 - present but with some historic publications going further back as well. Highlights include Congressional bills, hearings, documents and reports, public papers of presidents, court opinions from select courts and more. MetaLib is a federated search engine that searches multiple U.S. Federal government databases, retrieving reports, articles, and citations. It searches GPO's catalog of federal publications (CGP) and Govinfo as well as (the .gov domain search engine), EPA publications, Agricola, Library of Congress, PubMed and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) archival database system. 


  • Congressional Bills: If you're just looking for current and historic US legislation, then look no further than congress.Gov and is the official site for legislative activities from the US House of Representatives and Senate hosted by the Library of Congress. Govtrack.US is a free, non-commercial, non-partisan, and open-source project. While it has similar information to, it also includes other functionality not available on (like bill tracking and govtrack insider analysis!) and gives free access to all of the bulk data underlying the site!



There's so much more to the world of government information. Stay tuned for other posts on state, local and international government information as well as governmental archival and scientific materials, and government statistics and data.