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HathiTrust Digital Library: Government Documents

This guide explains HathiTrust, its uses and benefits.

HathiTrust US Federal Government Documents

HathiTrust has a wealth of scanned U.S. federal government documents available. US government documents come from a wide variety of agencies, with dates spanning 1790 to 2016. Government documents are generally not subject to copyright law, so they have been a focus of the scanning efforts by the various contributing organizations.

US government documents that are in the public domain are viewable by anyone, and, at a minimum, individual pages can be downloaded. A large number of US government documents are free of any restrictions and can be downloaded in their entirety. Many government documents are subject to third party restrictions placed by the digitizing entity and are only available to download by those affiliated with a HathiTrust member library, which the University of Puget Sound is. See HELP for more information.

HathiTrust has also created a comprehensive U.S. Government Documents Registry. The goal of the registry is to have bibliographic information about every U.S. federal government document published, whether or not it's present in HathiTrust. This work is ongoing.


U.S. Federal Documents Collections

Federal documents are a significant portion of the overall HathiTrust collection. The following searchable collections enable focused discovery of U.S. federal documents in HathiTrust:

State & Local Government Documents

Many libraries have also digitized and deposited state and local government documents. Because the rights status of these documents varies from state to state, there is variation in whether the materials can be viewed in HathiTrust.

Try adding "Washington State" to a search for a law, policy, agency, hearing or other topic of interest to see if there are state documents related to your interests.

Government Documents Search Tips

  • The same item may be cataloged differently on different records. For example, Administration of the Federal Coal-Mine Safety Act, 1952-61, from the Bureau of Mines, is on both its own individual record and as no.8133 on the series record for the Bureau of Mines Information Circulars
  • The quality and legibility of the page images can vary widely depending upon the source. If you encounter a tough-to-read item, see if it's available from another library, either on the same catalog record or a different one.  
  • Though almost all U.S. federal government documents are fully viewable by anyone, HathiTrust still requires a login to download documents (see below).

Search HathiTrust

HathiTrust contains millions of digital books, journals, government documents, and other volumes, all digitized from research libraries. The collection includes both public domain and in-copyright works across a full range of subjects. Over half of the content is in English, but hundreds of languages are represented, including large amounts of material in German, French, Chinese, Russian and Spanish. Although all items are discoverable, viewability depends on the rights status of the individual item.

To access all available content,  "LOG IN" by choosing the University of Puget Sound as your member library. You'll be prompted to enter your Puget Sound credentials.