May 20, 2022

Introduction & Search Tips: The HathiTrust Federal Documents Collection Provides Access to 1.4 Million+ U.S. Federal Documents

From the HathiTrust Federal Documents Advisory Committee

The HathiTrust U.S. federal documents collection is a “library at web scale,” digitized volumes of the print items held in research libraries. One of the largest sets of openly available U.S. federal publications on the web, our collection covers the full range of topics that intersect with the U.S. federal government. Wondering which questions have been included in the U.S. Census, going back to the first census in 1790?  Here is a document for that. Wondering about various imports to the U.S. in the 1800’s, including opium? We have that too. Or maybe you want to read the 9/11 Commission Report, the congressional hearing on the Titanic disaster, or a U.S. Navy cookbook, with recipes.

Our collection of digitized Congressional publications is likely the largest outside of the federal government and commercial providers. Some examples of the range of Congressional hearings in HathiTrust include the topics Record labeling (1985);  Russia : how Vladimir Putin rose to power and what America can expect (2000); Public safety and civil rights implications of state and local enforcement of federal immigration laws (2009); and U.S. Membership in the World Health Organization (1947).


As government information librarians, we encourage anyone who has internet access to make use of this rich collection of federal publications in HathiTrust. You can access via browser or mobile device, and the Using the Digital Library help section or Information Sheet for Students offer general guidance. The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP)-hosted presentation Using the HathiTrust Fed Docs Collection also provides background.

Direct to Full Text Introduction, Search Tips (approx. 1500 words)

Direct to HathiTrust U.S. Federal Documents Collection

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.