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GPO Digitizes Historical Editions of U.S. Government Manual

Library Of Congress Treasured Publications.The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized historical editions of the U.S. Government Manual (the Manual), the Government’s official handbook of agency organization for all three branches of Government. Years 1935–1994 of the Manual are now freely accessible and available on govinfo, the one-stop site for authentic, published Government information. Listings include the legislative authority, programs, activities, and a brief history of each agency; officials heading the major units of operation; and agency contact information. Recent editions of the Manual (1995–Present) are already available; the new historic editions complete the digitization of the collection.

Years 1935–2019 of the Manual can be accessed at: https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/GOVMAN

“The Government Manual was one of the first resources I learned to use as a young congressional staffer,” said GPO Director Hugh Halpern. “The completion of this digitization represents GPO’s ongoing commitment to provide the public with free access to Government information.”

The Manual includes organizational charts for various agencies, boards, commissions, and committees. Readers can discover how and when both large agencies and smaller offices were first established, how they changed, and whether they were assimilated into other agencies in the Government, or became obsolete. Some examples of information members of the public can expect to find in the Manual:

  • The Sugar Division of the Department of Agriculture required the Secretary of Agriculture to determine annually “the sugar requirements of consumers in the continental United States and to fix marketing or import quotas for the various sugar-producing areas, domestic and foreign, supplying this market.” (1939 edition)
  • There was no Vice President of the United States from November 1963 until January 1965. The 1964–1965 edition lists the position as vacant. When President Lyndon B. Johnson assumed the Presidency after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, there was no provision for appointing a new Vice President. The 25th Amendment, passed in 1967, addressed the issue of succession. (1964–1965 edition)
  • The vital statistics functions performed by the Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce, were transferred to the U.S. Public Health Service, which was once a division of the Federal Security Agency. (1953 edition)

This is one of a series of recent projects in which GPO has worked to expand free public access to congressional information in digital formats. Previously the agency digitized the Congressional Record back to 1873, the Federal Register back to 1936, and the Public Papers of the Presidents back to 1929. In collaboration with the Law Library of Congress, GPO has begun a large multi-year effort to digitize and make accessible volumes of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set back to the first volume, which was published in 1817. GPO is also currently working to digitize a collection of nearly 15,000 congressional hearings.

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