University of 
Michigan Documents Center


A Guide for Class Assignments Beginning with 103rd Congress, 1993

Frames Index | Non-Frames Edition

Quick Jumps:

Executive Branch | Hearings | Lobby Groups | Lobby Influence | News Media
Political Parties | President | Public Opinion Polls | States
Citations | Committee Information | Legislative Histories

Documents Center

Last updated on August 1, 2000

Congressional Hearings

    • Definition
      • Testimony before a committee in prepared and question/answer format
      • Hearings may be held on proposed legislation, nominations, appropriations, oversight, or investigations
      • People who testify include members of the Executive Branch, lobbyists, experts, and individual citizens

    • Congressional Universe (UMich Only) [Web]
      • Indexes committee publications: hearings (1970+), prints (1993+), and reports (1989+)
      • Published Hearings accessed through Congressional Publications
        • Hearings indexed by subject, keyword, committee, date, and person testifying
        • Advanced Search Strategies option under keyword searching permits numerous proximity indicators
          • w/p (words within paragraph); w/n (words within a number; w/s (words within sentence)
          • Example: china w/10 (world trade organization or most favored nation)
          • Additional protocols at bottom of keyword searching page
        • Record provides summary of testimony, Superintendent of Documents Number for the Documents Center's paper copy, microfiche number for the Documents Center's microfiche, and a link to selected full text testimony since 1988
      • Testimony provides the full text of selected testimony and prepared witness statements
        • Indexed by committee, person testifying, date, and keyword
        • More current than the Published Hearings
        • Published Hearings have much more material
      • See Congressional Universe Research Guide or Congressional Universe Quick Guide for further details

    • Congressional Hearings via GPO Access
      • Selected hearings beginning 1995 also available free to the public via the Government Printing Office
      • Arranged by committee; no index
      • Text and pdf formats

    • Congressional Hearings on the Web
      • Lists government agencies and Congressional committees with selected testimony on the web

    • Internet Search Engines
      • Political Information
        • Search for hearings mounted by government web sites as well as those of individuals and interest groups
        • Sample search: medicare and +testimony and +hearing
      • Google's Uncle Sam
        • Indexes text of government web sites
        • Sample search: medicare and testimony and hearing
        • You will retrieve at least some false drops, including the legislative status on THOMAS and hearings announcements

On-Line Source in Documents Center

    • CQ On Congress (Documents Center Signon)
      • Full text of Transcripts (Q and A) and Testimony (prepared statements) since 1995
      • Coverage is essentially the same as Congressional Universe
      • Indexed by keyword, committee, person testifying, date
      • Results can be saved or sorted by date, committee, or relevancy

Historical Sources

Executive Branch

    • Federal Agency Web Sites
      • Cleancut alphabetical listing of federal agency web sites
      • Includes search engine

    • Google Search Engine
      • Web search engine devoted exclusively to sites with .gov and .mil extensions
      • Excellent for federal policy papers


    • Vetoes
      • Bill Vetoes
        • Available via GPO Access beginning 1995
          • Check off the boxes for "House Documents" and use "veto" as a keyword search
        • Also available on THOMAS under Bill Summary and Status, 1973+
          • Arranged by Congress
          • Vetoes searchable as a stage in the legislative process or in a separate list
      • Line Item Vetoes
        • These are officially entitled Presidential Cancellations
        • Available in PDF format from the Clerk of the House

    • Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, 1993+
      • Full text of Presidential executive orders, speeches, press conferences, names of nominees
      • Phrases should be in parentheses and Boolean operators capitalized (e.g. "affirmative action" AND "college admissions")
      • Table of contents search (contents AND "july 28, 1997)

    • White House Electronic Publications [Web]
      • Press releases, speeches and documents beginning January 1993 and updated daily
      • Browse by date or broad subject category
      • There is no keyword searching but publications can be identified using a forms interface specifying date, broad subject, type of publication, and principal speaker
      • Searching by keyword and date

    • President (UMich)
      • Annotated links to Presidential speeches, biographies, directives, and executive orders

Lobby Group Influence

    • Background Information [Web and Library]
      • Use to identify politics of legislation in the headlines
    • Bills [Web]
      • Which Members of Congress have introduced bills promoted by lobby groups
    • Campaign Finances [Web and Library]
      • Campaign contributions of lobby groups to Members of Congress
      • Note whether Member is on a committee which has jurisdiction over a subject of interest to the lobby group
    • Congressional Hearings [Library]
      • Testimony of lobby groups
    • Floor Votes
      • Which Members of Congress have voted in the best interests of a particular lobby group?
    • Lobby Group Ratings (UMich) [Web and Library]
      • Annotated list of web sites and printed sources
    • Lobby Group Web Sites
      • Opinions and sometimes testimony are included on lobby group web sites

Lobby Group Opinion

Newspaper Articles

Political Parties

Public Opinion Polls

    • Search MIRLYN [Web and Library]
      • Use subject heading "Public Opinion Polls"
    • AllPolitics (Time/CNN)
      • Excellent coverage of elections and public opinion polls
      • Use search engine and type "poll"
      • Separate archive for 1996 Election Polls
    • American Public Opinion and U.S. Foreign Policy
      • Special survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations
      • Charts and graphs on public opinion on national priorities, U.S. role in resolving world problems, major foreign affairs issues
      • Adobe Acrobat only

    • American Public Opinion Index
      • Most comprehensive source for public opinion polls
      • Ref. Room HM 261 .A4631
      • Corresponding microfiche in Serials/Microforms as MICRO-F X423

    • Gallup Organization
      • Summary results of most current public opinion polls
      • Gallup Poll, 1935 to present, also available in the Graduate Library Reference Room as HN 90.P9 .G18

    • General Social Survey (ICPSR, NORC, UC-Berkeley)
      • Annual survey since 1972 of public opinion and lifestyle
      • Covers poverty, religion, contraceptive use, opinion on foreign affairs
      • ICPSR site provides background on survey as well as printed publications resulting from the survey
      • Primary data extraction available from ICPSR and UC-Berkeley LI>Computer-Assisted Survey (UC-Berkeley)
        • Data may be manipulated on-line
        • Quick start instructions for the initiate:
          • Choose Demonstration Survey Data Archive
          • Choose the survey you would like and the "browse" option; start
          • Choose "Alphabetical Variable List"
          • Choose your variables and write down their corresponding code names
          • Go back to the original screen and choose "run crosstabulations;" start
          • Imagine the output as a spreadsheet and type in the desired vertical and horizontal code names; also choose output as statistics or percentages
        • Example of General Social Survey
          • Percentage of Protestants who strongly agree with death penalty
          • In "run crosstabulations," type in "deathpen" as vertical and "relig" as horizontal; check off percentaging as vertical; run the table
          • Example of American National Election Studies

    • Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies
      • Non-profit organization providing public policy information on issues affecting black Americans
      • Summaries of selected papers include public opinion polls on such topics as race relations, children, black participation in the Republican Party
      • Full text of annual report

    • Kaiser Family Foundation Surveys
      • Surveys on American values, sex, health care issues, politics, and morals
      • Full text since 1996
      • Most in pdf format

    • Louis Harris Associates
      • Public opinion results of last two months
      • Primarily government and economic questions

    • National Council on Public Opinion Polls
      • Principles of disclosure
      • 20 questions journalists should ask when reading poll results

    • National Opinion Research Center (U-Chicago)
      • Home of the General Social Survey with links to data at ICPSR
      • Studies describes its economic, education, social, and health statistics programs
      • Studies and data on a variety of topics (guns, stress, abortion, smoking) appear in the Library section of the menu

    • Pew Research Center
      • Text and statistics of U.S. public opinion polls on politics, public policy, and the press
      • Issues covered since 1995 include the Presidential elections, TV news viewership, Medicare reforms, campaign financing, churches, and the death of Princess Diana
      • Data on the public's attention to major news stories beginning 1986
      • Archive of files since 1985 available upon request

    • Polling Report
      • Biweekly periodical with public opinion polls on politics, business, and culture
      • Examples include favorite actor of all time, the President's approval rating
      • Includes articles on public opinion trends by opinion analysts, pollsters and academics

    • Portrait of America (Rasmussen Associates)
      • National surveys on politics, home, lifestyle, sports and business
      • Includes data, questionnaires, and articles since February 1997
      • Searchable by date, broad heading, and keyword

    • Public Agenda
      • Nonpartisan, issue-oriented think tank
      • Presents eighteen issues, including abortion, crime, gambling, immigration, internet privacy, social security, and welfare
      • For each issue provides background, links to lobby groups, a digest of news stories, basic statistics, and a variety of state laws
      • Numerous public opinion polls

    • Public Opinion Poll Question Database (University of North Carolina)
      • Data base of questions asked in the Harris, Carolina, Southern States, and All State polls since the 1960s
      • Searchable by subject, poll, and decade
      • Catalog provides additional information and often frequency distributions

    • Public Opinion Quarterly (UMich Only)
      • Full text of scholarly journal analyzing public opinion worldwide
      • Searchable by keyword, author, journal, date
      • Part of JSTOR project
      • Public Opinion Quarterly Index is a free index, 1937+
      • Full text also in Graduate Library as HM 261 .A1 P98 with a backup on microfilm as FILM X375

    • Pulse (Epinet)
      • Bimonthy web magazine focusing on one issue
      • Provides context to the public opinion polls and links to in-depth articles
      • As of May 1999, one issue devoted to Social Security

    • Roper Center/Public Opinion
      • Primarily information about the Center
      • Searchable catalogs of its public opinion polls, the Latin American Survey Data Bank and the Japanese Survey Data Bank
      • Roper polls can also be searched in Academic Universe (UMich Only) in the Reference/Polls and Surveys section

    • Washington Post
      • Public opinion polls on public affairs since January 1997
      • Subjects include Presidential popularity, sanctions toward Iraq, violence in schools
      • Descriptions supplemented by statistical tables

State and Local Governments (UMich)

    • Links to national associations
    • National Conference of State Legislatures addresses federal-state policy issues
    • National Governors Association has extensive list of policy statements
    • Links to gubernatorial and legislative web sites in all states

Citation Guides [Web and Library]

    • Citing government documents
    • Citing electronic information

Political Process

    • Legislation is a highly political process, despite this logical outline
    • Public Policy Matrix is a chart summarizing the legislative process and sources for political information about the process

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Grace York, Coordinator, Documents Center
The University of Michigan Library
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