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Research Guides

Starting Points

The Executive Branch of the United States Government includes the agencies and departments that take direction from the President, who is the administrative head of the executive branch. Through regulations, the Executive branch enforces laws. Laws are created by the Legislative branch in Congress and are interpreted by the Judicial branch through the Courts.

This page contains resources for finding executive branch documents and general information about the Executive Branch of government. Consult the Government Research Basics page in this guide for other government overview resources.

To find information or learn more about specific aspects of the Executive Branch of the United States Government, see the pages below:

Executive Branch Documents (CIS Index) through 1932

In addition to using the CIS print index (see "How to Use the CIS Print Index" below) to identify Executive Branch documents, you can now search the catalog for particular documents; use these search terms: CIS US executive branch documents and [keyword, name, etc]. Bring a copy of the record you find to the Government Publicatons/Maps/Microforms & Newspapers Help Desk for help in retrieving the document you want.

Material issued by federal departments and agencies can also be found using the two indexes listed below. The material includes annual reports, general publications, serials, instructions, rules, circulars, decisions, and registers. There are two sets, 1789-1909 and 1910-1932.

How to Use the CIS Print Index

The information in the CIS print index is organized into groups of agencies. Each part may be for one or several agencies and consists of a subject index, a reference bibliography and a supplementary index. There are seven parts.


The subject index covers both topics and personal names. When you find the entry you are looking for, look for the CIS accession number (ex: W2507-1). SuDoc numbers will also be listed in the subject index, so be sure you have the accession number rather than the SuDocs number. You will need this to search the reference bibliography. When you look up the accession number in the reference bibliography, you will find another, expanded, description of the documents available which will help determine if the documents are the ones you are seeking. You can then take the accession number to the Government Publications/Maps/Microforms & Newspapers Help Desk; staff will retrieve the microfiche from  the Suzzallo Basement Closed Stacks. The supplementary index is organized under SuDoc number, title, and agency report number. Again, find the accession number and use it to find the expanded description in the reference bibliography. The supplementary index also contains excellent guides.


Final note: it is helpful with this index, more than with most indexes, to read the spine and front cover of the volumes. Dates are on the spine; the agencies are listed on the cover.

The White House

image of the White House from whitehouse.gov

History and Information about the Executive Branch