History, Archives and Special Collections

This category is composed of retrospective analyses of both the academic and practice history of public administration, addressing the foundations and milestones in this field. Content includes articles, publications, records of significant meetings and presentations, historical actions about important topics such as government reform and personnel policies, historical data, government memorandums, speeches, and other official documents.

Sources of Archives and Special Collections

Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries 
SCRC's collections span time and format, from cuneiform tables to born digital electronic files.  Collecting areas include activism and social reform, architecture and design, popular culture (cartoons, science fiction, and pulp literature), photography, and the history of recorded sound.

Library of Congress Bibliographies, Research Guides, and Finding Aids 
Provides an entry point to special collections, paper and digital, at the Library of Congress.

Web Guides by the Library of Congress Digital Reference Section 
Showcases the readily-available digital collections and digital exhibits.

National Archives and Records Administration Research Our Records 
Online guide to searching the paper and digital assets of the National Archives.

State Libraries (Institute of Museum and Library Services page)
List of the state libraries in each state and their web addresses.

State Archives (NARA page)

List of the state archives in each state with mailing address and sometimes email or other online contact information.

State Historical Societies in the United States 
Websites for each state historical society.

Public Administration Special Collections from Major Academic Institutions

Searching the libraries of colleges and universities with public administration programs for archives and special collections can be valuable.  Here are a few examples:

  • Baruch College--Here are only two of the Web presences from collections in the Baruch College Archives in New York City:

Archive on Municipal Finance and Leadership 

"An Adventure in Democracy" - The Institute of Public Administration Collection 

This exhibit features public administration great Luther Gulick.

  • Syracuse University--"Special Collections". Public Administration - Guide to Syracuse University Library Resources
  • University of Michigan--"Mirlyn catalog". Search indexes to get access to digitized historical documents.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara--"The American Presidency Project". The American Presidency Project is the only online resource that has consolidated, coded, and organized several valuable collections of the papers of presidents into a single searchable database.

Digital Examples:  New Deal Collections

The New Deal offers some examples of the riches to be found on the Internet.  Digital collections and finding aids to print and other local collections are easier to find than ever before. The following were discovered by doing Google searches with the following search terms:  "New Deal" "special collections"

Library of Congress:  New Deal Web Guide 

Only one important digital collection at the Library of Congress is the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives.

This online site includes classic photographs by Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lange, and other famous photographers chronicling the Great Depression and World War II. 

Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) Collection -- University of Washington

Washington State-specific photographs from FERA.  

New Deal Collections@Mason 

Infoguide from the Special Collections & Archives section of the George Mason University Libraries.  Most of these materials deal with the Federal Theater Project (FTP).

Finding Individual Historical Items

Suppose you want older publications from the various governmental research bureaus. Many of these research bureaus are housed in university-based centers; some no longer exist in their original form. Their out-of-print paper publications are scattered in libraries and special collections all over the country.  Here are some starting places in your search for historical documents in public administration.

1.  Hathi Trust 

A nonprofit digital repository currently preserving over 11 million volumes.

Search is: "bureau of government research". Result is over 6,000 searchable records. Over 1,000 of these are in full text, including items from universities, Google Books, and the Internet Archive.  

Search is:  "bureau of governmental research". Result is nearly 12,000 searchable items. Over 3,000 of these are in full text.

Here is a sample record:

State of Arizona; a brief analysis of land status and utilization.
Main Author:    Meyer, Louis S.,
Language(s):    English
Published:    Tempe, Bureau of Government Research, Arizona State University, 1962.
Subjects:    Land use > Arizona.
Physical Description:    9 p. 22 cm.
Locate a Print Version:    Find in a library
Full view (original from University of Michigan)

2.  WorldCat from OCLC

A catalog of library catalogs, international in scope.  WorldCat will list items in print, microform, or digital formats.

Sample search one is: "bureau of government research". Result is over 900 items in libraries around the world. Some will be available via interlibrary loan. Some will be rare items that must be viewed in their home libraries.

Sample search two is: "bureau of governmental research". Result is over 2,900 records.

Sample record:

A manual for township trustees of Indiana.
Author:    E B McPheron
Publisher:    Bloomington, [IN] Bureau of Government Research, Dept. of Government, Indiana University [1949]
Series:    Indiana University.; Bureau of Government Research.; Studies
Edition/Format:     Book : State or province government publication : English View all editions and formats
Database:    WorldCat
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Local government -- Indiana.
Local government.
The record also includes library locations for the item.

3.  Google Books

Sample search is: bureau of governmental research and Detroit

Yields many snippets, some of which lead to full documents and some of which lead to references.

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