January 18, 2022

U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) Announces Digitization and Availability of Historical U.S. Government Manuals (1935-1994)

From the GPO:

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.

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.


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)

Documents are available as ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files, and more recent years are available in XML.

Direct to Historical Editions of the U.S. Government Manual

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.