For the political science nerds and those who love original source documents, this from the GPO:
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the Library of Congress (LC) to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1991-1998 on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers debates of the 102nd thru 105th Congresses. This era of Congress covers historical topics such as:
- The Persian Gulf War
- Bill Clinton’s Presidency
- Enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act
- Republicans gaining control of both the House and Senate since 1954
You can read the rest of the release here, and access the records here.
Library school was about 8 years ago for me, and one of my classes involved government research. As it happens, that was how I was introduced to Twitter but, more to the point, how I became aware of THOMAS. At the time, THOMAS was a big deal– launched in 1995, it started out as a bleeding edge resource, making Congressional proceedings available for free. Basically, if you were trying to look into anything that Congress did, you went to this website.
Remember, for a moment, what the internet was like in 1995. If you need a refresher, trying viewing some of the internet relics that are out there: Space Jam is a perennial favorite; for something more comparable, check out the Wayback Machine for Yahoo. Compare that to THOMAS, and you were much farther ahead. As with most technology, we’ve reached the end of life for the THOMAS system– its simply not robust enough for modern users or browsers.
Several years ago, the Library of Congress introduced Congress.gov, the successor to THOMAS. Now comes the final word: THOMAS is retiring July 5. (Side note: I have considered and discarded numerous Hamilton related puns. You’re welcome). LOC has a full write up for those interested. In the meantime, if you are looking for any Congressional sessions, resolutions, bills, treaties, or general information make sure you are going to Congress.gov rather than THOMAS.
The Library received a donation several years ago comprising a large portion of the Liberty Fund catalog. Poli sci major and history lover that I am, I could happily spend months reading my way through. I remember seeing their booth on the exhibit floor of ALA annual the year I was able to go. They had a beautiful 2 volume set of the works of James Wilson and I bought it as fast as humanly possible (And who is James Wilson? The most important founding father you’ve never heard of, and I swear I will write his biography one of these days).
At the time, they were happy to sell a set that must have accounted for a decent chunk of the shipping bill. They threw a few CDs into my bag as well, telling me it was a large portion of their collection in eBook form. I was still very much in the print only realm, so I thanked them and moved on. When I finally started to get into eBooks, I messed around with the digital library but never found a good way to get a handle on eBooks and PDFs.
Fast forward to now: Google books is my go to reader, with a heavy assist from Overdrive and the public library collection. Google, of course, will allow you to sideload PDFs into the app and there you are. Sadly, my Wilson and my CD are a country away with the rest of my book collection (to the everlasting delight of my parents, who are graciously storing said book collection.) I decided to poke around, as my cyclical interest in the American founding is picking up steam.
To my everlasting delight, the whole thing is online! And now I share it with you: The Online Library of Liberty. Don’t let my love of politics scare you away; the works available span Ancient Asia, Greece, and Rome to modern day thinkers across a variety of disciplines. You can download works in a variety of formats, including PDFs, ePubs, and Kindle format. I like the ePubs a bit better than Project Gutenberg; they’re cleaner and neater, as you’d expect from a larger organization. Project Gutenberg has, of course, a much larger range and is worth your time as well.