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Executive Branch Publications (U.S. Serial Set)

Historically, the U.S. Serial Set has included a broad miscellany of executive branch publications. Apart from Presidential messages, which have regularly been included, some of these documents appear because Congress orders a department or agency to report to it on a regular basis, and some appear because Members want a supply of reports on particular topics for their own use and for distribution to the public.

Congressional policy for the inclusion of executive branch publications has not been entirely systematic or consistent. Until the establishment of the Government Printing Office in 1860, for example, identical executive branch reports sometimes appeared as both House and Senate publications. Even after that, and until about 1920, Congress sometimes requested reports from subordinate bureaus or agencies that duplicated material found in the reports of their parent departments.

Historically, the proportion of executive material in the Set has varied considerably; in some 19th-century Congresses it formed over half the Set, but in recent decades it has been quite small. Executive branch publications appearing in the Set include:

  • Messages of the President of the United States
  • Annual administrative reports of departments and agencies
  • Series publications such as the Geological Survey Bulletins
  • Periodicals such as the Monthly Summary of Foreign Commerce (with its predecessor the Monthly Summary of Commerce and Finance), the Pan American Union Bulletin, and Monthly Consular Reports

In addition to administrative reports, which often also contain a wealth of non-administrative information, some of the Set's more valuable and complete serialized executive publications are:

  • Department of Commerce and predecessor Department of Commerce and Labor reports on foreign commerce
  • Department of State commercial relations, commercial policy, and foreign relations series
  • Smithsonian Institutions Bureau of Ethnology reports and bulletins
  • Bureau of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics bulletins
  • Census Bureau Statistical Abstracts

In addition to congressional and executive branch publications, the U.S. Serial Set includes a number of reports from nongovernmental organizations that are organized under laws requiring such reports. The American Historical Association, Boy Scouts of America, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and various veterans organizations are in this category.

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