Trial access to U.S.Documents Masterfile database of historic US government documents

April 13, 2020
Mr. James R. (Librarian) Jacobs
US Documents Masterfile

The U.S. government has since 1774 published information chronicling the expanse of the country’s experience and development. These publications are valuable to students and researchers in history, government, business, economics, sociology, education, legal studies, and the sciences.


Stanford Library’s primary access to historic government publications is through the subscription databases Proquest Congressional PublicationsHeinOnline, as well as some other resources like,HathitrustERIC, and OSTI's SciTech Connect to name but a few.


Stanford Libraries has just gotten free trial access to Paratext’s U.S. Documents Masterfile through June 30, 2020. 


U.S. Documents Masterfile is a federated index of sorts, and bridges our other subscription- and free databases by aggregating foundational governmental document indexes and full-text collections to create a single index to U.S. government publications. What makes USDM powerful is that it connects the researcher to both hard-to-find documents from the 18th and 19th century as well as more recently published documents by bringing together several classic historical indexes which in the past were only available in the library, including but not limited to Greeley’s Public Documents of the First Fourteen Congresses, 1789-1817, Poore's Descriptive Catalogue of the Government Publications of the United States September 5, 1774-March 4, 1881, Ames’ Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government 1881-1893, Hickcox's Monthly Catalog of United States Government Publications 1885-1894, the Cumulative Title and Subject Indexes, Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909 (aka the “1909 Checklist”), and GPO’s Monthly Catalog of US Government Publications (lovingly called “MoCat”). USDM includes 15 million citations with 10 million links to foundational full text U.S. government publications. Some of USDM’s content is duplicative of materials found in Congressional Publications and HeinOnline. But check out all of the resources that USDM indexes.



I found USDM to be very useful, especially in its digitization of those important historic documents indexes (Poore’s, Ames, Hickcox, 1909 checklist) that are not available in Proquest Congressional Publications or any of the public documents databases, and in its connection between the indexes and full text content online in hathitrust, GPO’s govinfo db, NARA, Library of Congress, DPLA, Readex US Serial Set and Data Planet datasets. I also hadn’t realized the amount of documents indexed and digitally available from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) from 1790 to the present! Lastly, there's cross-search functionality which allows the user to search USDM as well as Paratext's other subscription databases, Reference Universe and 19th Century Materfile


We’ve got free access to U.S. Documents Masterfile until the end of June and will make a decision on purchase after that, so please let me know if you find US Documents Masterfile useful to your research. I can be contacted at jrjacobs AT Stanford DOT edu.