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American State Papers 1789-1838

Location: Microfiche Cabinet 27, Drawer 8


The American State Papers are comprised of 38 volumes of important executive and legislative documents from 1789-1838. Pickler Library also has five print volumes for one class of the American State Papers: the Public Lands (Special Collections HD 171 .A15 A4 1834.)

This collection is also available full-text and fully searchable on the Library of Congress American Memory website.

“In subject matter, the documents included reflect the problems and uncertainties of the struggling young government as it sought to protect its newly won independence, develop internally, and expand westward, finally to achieve its “manifest destiny” as a continental national. In the early years, Spain, France, and Great Britain were a source of major concern. Impressment of seamen by British vessels, protection of commerce on the high seas during the Napoleonic struggles in Europe, depredations of the Barbary Pirates, and the fighting of the second war with Great Britain in 1812 were among the difficulties encountered with foreign nations.” ( U.S. Serial Set Index).

“The American State Papers cover such historical events as Lewis and Clark’s Expedition as communicated to Congress on Feb. 16, 1806, Burr’s Conspiracy and Arrest, and the Treaty of the Creek Indians made by Andrew Jackson on Aug. 9, 1814. They also include speeches and messages of Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, April 30, 1789 – Sept. 20, 1814.

The American State Papers are NOT a complete record of the activities of that time period because of the fire of 1814 and the lack of record keeping.”

The American State Papers are the first part of the U.S. Serial Set.

How to search the collection

The collection is divided into ten topical classes:

Class Title Abbreviation Class Title Abbreviation
I. Foreign Relations For. rel. VI. Naval Affairs Nav. aff.
II. Indian Affairs Ind. aff VII. Post Office Department Postoff
III. Finance Finance VIII. Public Lands Pub.land
IV. Commerce and Navigation Com. nav. IX. Claims Claims
V. Military Affairs Mil. aff. X. Miscellaneous Misc

There are several volumes within most classes. Each volume contains its own index covering the contents of that volume on the microfiche at the end of the volume.

To look for things throughout the entire American State Papers microfiche collection without having to look in each volume’s index, use one of these two indexes:

CIS U.S. Serial Set Index (a print index located at Reference Z 1223 Z9 C65 1975 pt. 1)


ProQuest Congressional
Index of U.S. legislative information including Congressional publications, bills, laws, regulations, member and committee information, hot topics, etc.

CIS US Serial Set Index: American State Papers and the 15th-34th Congresses 1789-1857. Washington : Congressional Information Service, c1975-.(Reference Z1223 Z9 C65 pt. 1 1975).

Library of Congress American Memory – a full-text, fully searchable collection of the American State Papers.

For more information about this subject in our Library Catalog, check out these
Subject Categories:

United States -- Politics and government.

United States -- History -- Sources

Time Period: 18th Century   19th Century  

Subject keywords: Congressional Papers, U. S. History