Presidential Papers, Speeches, and Executive Orders

On this page: Historical Papers | Individual Presidents' Compilations | Executive Orders

For a good general guide to available resources on the presidency, see American President: An Online Reference Resource, from the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs.

Current Messages and Papers

Historical Papers

Until 1957, there was no systematic official publication of Presidential papers. In the late 1890s, Congress authorized an extensive retrospective compilation of the messages and papers of the Presidents from the period 1789 to 1897. Otherwise, citizens and scholars were forced to rely on various private compilations of Presidential materials. In 1957, The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States was begun. Retrospective volumes were produced for the Hoover Administration, Truman Administration, and earlier years of the Eisenhower Administration. (The Franklin D. Roosevelt papers had been privately published.) The following list shows the holdings of various presidential papers in the University of Oregon Library collections.

Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents. (Richardson) KNIGHT J 81. B96 and KNIGHT 308 Un3M2, also available in Documents in the Congressional Serial Set (vol. 3265, 10 vols.)
This is the retrospective compilation authorized by Congress. There were actually several different editions published, each of which covered different time periods and divided the time periods differently by volume. Below is shown the coverage by volume for the original edition (shelved under Dewey call number 308 Un3M2), and explanations of the coverage of later editions.
v. 1: 1789-1817 Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison
v. 2: 1817-1833 Monroe, JQ Adams, Jackson (1st term)
v. 3: 1833-1841 Jackson (2nd term), Van Buren
v. 4: 1941-1849 Harrison, Tyler, Polk
v. 5: 1849-1861 Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan
v. 6: 1861-1869 Lincoln, Johnson
v. 7: 1869-1881 Grant, Hayes
v. 8: 1881-1889 Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland (1st term)
v. 9: 1889-1897 B Harrison, Cleveland (2nd term)
v. 10: Appendix and Index
v. 11: 1897-1902 (Supplement) McKinley, T Roosevelt (first months)
-- There was a 1910 edition published by the Bureau of National Literature and Art in 11 volumes which covered through the first year of the Taft Administration (and thus included all of McKinley and T Roosevelt). This is the set shelved at KNIGHT J 81. B96.
-- There was a 20 volume edition published in 1918 which added coverage of all of Taft and much of Wilson. This is shelved at KNIGHT 308 Un3M2 (alongside the original set).
Presidential Addresses and State Papers (Theodore Roosevelt) KNIGHT 308 Un3Rop
8 volumes (Presidential years: 1901-1909)
The Papers of Robert A. Taft KNIGHT E748.T2 A3 1997
Volume 1: 1889-1938 (Presidential years: 1909-1913); Published 1997
The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson. KNIGHT 308W699pu
6 volumes (presidential years 1913-1921)
Warren G. Harding Papers: a Microfilm Edition. CRL T3/R69/M
Series 4, Presidential papers (1921-1923) This is not in the UO Libraries collections, but is available to UO researchers through the Center for Research Libraries.
Messages and Addresses: 1923-28. (Calvin Coolidge) KNIGHT 308 C777
One bound volume, including various message from government and Congressional documents.
The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (Hoover) DOC-LC JK 1 .A52
1929-1933, 1 volume per year
The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt (DOC-LC E806 .R749)
1928-1945 (Presidential years: 1933-1945)
13 volumes, various imprints
The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States DOC-LC JK 1 .A52
1945-present Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton; one or two volumes per year.
 Public Papers of President Ronald W. Reagan - from the Reagan Presidential Library

 Public Papers of George H.W. Bush - from the Bush Presidential Library

There are also additional collections of speeches, papers, or works of individual presidents, some of which are listed below. Consult the library catalog using the president's name as author to search for additional compilations.

The library also holds microfilm collections of the complete papers of some presidents. Please see our Presidential Papers in Microform page for a complete listing of these holdings.

The Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States [print] (DOC-LC JK 1 .A52) is the annual cumulation of significant presidential statements. It covers most of what is in the Weekly Compilation. These annual cumulations are received about two years after the year that they cover. Volumes covering the administrations of Presidents Hoover, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush are included in the Public Papers series. See below for what is available online. See the historical section for local holding information.

Public Papers of  the Presidents of the United States [online] via govinfo.  Covers Herbert Hoover, then Presidents Truman through Obama (through 2014). Downloadable PDFs.

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Compilations of Individual President's Papers or Works

Adams, John.
The Papers of John Adams. (12 vol.) KNIGHT E 302 .A26 1977
Grant, Ulysses.
The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant. (26 vol.) KNIGHT E660 .G74 (2003)
Johnson, Andrew.
The Papers of Andrew Johnson. (16 volumes) KNIGHT E415.6 .J66 1967
Lincoln, Abraham.
Collected Works. (8 vol. + supplement) KNIGHT E457.91 1953
Roosevelt, Theodore.
Presidential Addresses and State Papers. (10 vol.) KNIGHT E660 .R78 1910
The Works of Theodore Roosevelt. (20 vol.) KNIGHT E660 .R842 (1926)
Washington, George.
The Papers of George Washington. (various series) KNIGHT E312.7 ; E312.72 ; E312.8
Wilson, Woodrow.
The Papers of Woodrow Wilson. (69 vol.) KNIGHT E660 .W717 (1994)

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Executive Orders

Presidential executive orders are a particular type of presidential document that has the force of law founded on his authority derived from the Constitution or a federal statute. There is no law defining "executive order", the meaning of the term has varied over the years. Prior to 1936, a document was an "executive order" because the president himself designated it as such. On February 18, 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7298 prescribing a uniform manner of preparing executive orders.

For most of U.S. history there was no standardized way of numbering and publishing executive orders. The Department of State was the official repository of executive orders, but did not assign numbers to them until 1907. Their retrospective numbering of the orders extended back only to the Civil War, and many remained unnumbered due to a poor filing system. Thus, a given executive order might be in the numbered series or the unnumbered series. The numbered series dates from 1862 to present, while the unnumbered series dates from 1789 to 1941. (President Hoover took steps to regularize the filing of executive orders in 1929, but a few unnumbered orders persisted until the 1940s.)

The Federal Register Act of 1935 required that every executive order be filed with the Office of the Federal Register, and that, beginning in 1936, all such orders of general applicability be published in the Federal Register. Thus, beginning in 1936 the great majority of Executive Orders can be found by consulting the:

  • Federal Register (Official site, 1994-present.) See also: Docs Ref US AE2.106: (Paper version, current 2 years only); Federal Register Library (database) on HeinOnline off-campus access limited to UO (1936-present)
  • and Title 3 of the annual Code of Federal Regulations (Official version, online from 1997.) Via Hein Online off-campus access limited to UO, 1938-current.  Print (1936-1970, 1992-2001, 2006-2009): Law Library Reading Room (KF70 .A46 and KF70.A47)

For earlier orders, there are two finding guides:

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