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Executive Orders

This guide is designed to help researchers understand and locate executive orders, presidential documents, and related executive branch material.

Summary

Listed below are common publications you can use to find presidential documents. Next to each publication title is an annotation indicating the types of presidential documents it contains: executive orders (EO), presidential proclamations (P), signing statements (S), or other directives (D). Underneath each publication is a short description, and if the publication is available from multiple sources, there are links to different sources for that publication.

Government Publications

Government publications containing presidential documents are available both in print and from a number of online sources. In addition to the print volumes at Tarlton, the main government online sources are included here, as well as a selection of other helpful online sources. Many of these resources are available on commercial legal databases like Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, HeinOnline, and ProQuest. 

Federal Register (EO), (P), (D)

Each issue of the Federal Register includes executive orders, presidential proclamations, and other presidential documents. 

Code of Federal Regulations (EO), (P), (D) 

Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations includes an annual compilation of presidential documents published in the Federal Register that were signed in the last year or span of years, as well as a codification of regulations issued by the Executive Office of the President. Following the Table of Contents, Title 3 includes a complete list of presidential document compilations, beginning with 1936. The list specifies the number range of the executive orders and presidential proclamations contained in each compilation. Title 3 also includes a series of helpful finding aids located at the end of the title. Tables 1 to 3 list the proclamations, executive orders, and other presidential documents included in the compilation and their location in the Federal Register. Table 4 lists the presidential documents affected during the prior year. Table 5 lists statutes cited as authority for presidential documents. The Code of Federal Regulation’s Parallel Table of Authorities and Rules can also be useful as it includes a list of codified presidential documents. 

United States Code (EO), (P), (D)

The United States Code is the subject-matter codification of the general and permanent laws of the United States. The United States Code often reprints or summarizes presidential documents that implement general and permanent law. Table IV of the United States Code lists executive orders that implement general and permanent laws contained in the code and where they may be found in the code. Similarly, Table V lists presidential proclamations that are included in the United States Code. Both tables note the location of executive orders and proclamations that have subsequently been eliminated from the code. While presidential documents like memoranda may be reprinted in the United States Code, it only includes finding aids for executive orders and proclamations. 

United States Statutes at Large (P) 

The Statutes at Large is the permanent collection of the laws and resolutions enacted during a congressional session. It also includes presidential proclamations.

Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (EO), (P), (S), (D)

Provides an authoritative record of the presidency and includes executive orders, presidential proclamations, and signing statements, among various other presidential documents. Covers the period of 1965 to January 29, 2009.

Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents (EO), (P), (S), (D)

Replaced the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents and covers January 29, 2009 to present. Provides an authoritative record of the presidency and includes executive orders, presidential proclamations, and signing statements, among various other presidential documents. 

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (EO), (P), (S), (D)

The official publication of public presidential writings, addresses, and remarks. The publication covers administrations beginning with President Hoover. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s papers were published privately and are not included in the collection. In 1977, the Public Papers of the President began including all documents published in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents. This practice ended in 1989 with the omission of executive orders, presidential proclamations, and certain other presidential documents. However, an appendix includes a list of presidential documents published in the Federal Register

Other Publications and Compilations

U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News (EO), (P), (S), (D)

Contains several federal congressional and administrative documents for each session of Congress, including new laws, congressional committee reports, and various presidential documents. Presidential documents in U.S.C.C.A.N. include executive orders, presidential messages and signing statements, and presidential proclamations. 

Databases

These are databases or projects that gather presidential documents or provide information about them.

Indexes and Tables

These indexes and tables are useful for finding what executive orders or presidential documents are out there, even if not all of them provide the actual documents.

Citing to Presidential Documents

The Bluebook (21st ed.) addresses citations to documents from the Executive Office of the President on pages 237-38 (Table 1.2 Federal Administrative and Executive Materials). Below is an overview of the citation conventions for presidential documents in The Bluebook. For more detailed information, see The Bluebook (21st ed.).

Executive Orders, Presidential Proclamations, and Reorganization Plans

  • Cite to the first edition of 3 C.F.R. where the material appears.
  • Include a parallel citation to the United States Code if the material appears there. 
  • If the material is not in the C.F.R., cite to the Federal Register
  • A parallel citation to the Statutes at Large may be included.

Other Presidential Documents

  • Cite to the Public Papers of the Presidents if available there.
  • If the document is not in the Public Papers of the Presidents, cite to one of the following: the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (1965-January 29, 2009), the Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents (January 29, 2009 to date), or the U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News.