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Political Science and International Affairs


Primary sources in PSIA are raw data, information, and original documents that have not yet been analyzed or interpreted. These sources bring researchers closer to understanding issues and events as they occur.

Primary Sources by Topic:


Simpson Library Guide to Government Resources - Statistical Sources
Find statistics compiled by U.S. government agencies

Raw Data

Measures of public opinion, past and present: interviews, public opinion polls, questionnaires, and surveys (Gallup poll; surveys carried out by other organizations; self-administered poll, survey, questionnaire, or interview)

Online repository of data sets from the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.
Links to statistics from over 100 U.S. government agencies. Browse alphabetically, by subject, or by state.

U.S. Government Resources: General

Contains Presidential documents, the Code of Federal Regulations, public and private laws, the U.S. Code, Congressional reports, bills, and documents and the federal budget.

U.S. Government Resources: Executive Branch

Budget of the United States (online)
Fiscal Year 1996 - present fiscal year
Issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Also available in the library (see below)


Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States (online)
1991-2016 volumes are subdivided into individual documents
1929-1990 volumes are available as large (1000+ pages) downloadable PDFs, but are not subdivided by document.
Also available in the library (see below)

White House Briefing Room
Speeches, statements, vetoes, legislation in process, recent legislation, memos, executive orders, and more.

U.S. Government Resources: Judicial Branch

PACER: Public Access to Court Electronic Records
Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is a service of the federal Judiciary. Its mission is to provide the public with the broadest possible access to court records and to foster greater public understanding of the court system. All court opinions are available through PACER for free for registered users.

Supreme Court of the United States - Opinions
The opinions of the Supreme Court of the United States are published officially in a set of case books called the United States Reports
This site includes PDF copies of United State Reports from 1991 (Volume 502) -2014 (Volume 574).
Also includes preliminary prints of more recent volumes.

Supreme Court of the United States - Slip Opinions
2014 - present
“Slip” opinions are the first version of the Court’s opinions posted on this website. A “slip” opinion consists of the majority or principal opinion, any concurring or dissenting opinions written by the Justices, and a prefatory syllabus prepared by the Reporter’s Office that summarizes the decision.

US Supreme Court Center - FindLaw
FindLaw's searchable database of U.S. Supreme Court decisions since 1760
Supreme Court opinions are browsable by year and U.S. Reports volume number, and are searchable by party name, case title, citation, full text and docket number.

In the social sciences and the sciences, scholars use the terms "primary" and "secondary" differently from scholars in the humanities. 
Primary research refers to the research conducted by the authors of the original source. The source will describe the authors' methodology, results and conclusions. This might be raw data, letters, research or study, tests, news reports, interviews, or some journal articles.
Secondary research describes or analyzes the research done by others. These include news analyses, magazine articles, some journal articles, scholarly books, opinion pieces or editorials. These can be excellent resources that can lead you to additional primary research on your topic.


Current and Recent News

Includes the last 2 weeks of major American newspapers such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and USA Today.

Nexis Uni
Use it to find newspapers, wire services, broadcast transcripts, company profiles, court cases.

Newspaper Source Plus (EBSCO)
1999-present. National and international newspapers; television and radio news transcripts

Historical Newspapers

Available through ProQuest

American Periodicals Series Online

New York Times (ProQuest)

Washington Post (ProQuest)

Chicago Tribune (ProQuest)


See also: UMW LibGuide for finding Newspaper Articles

United States Government Resources: Legislative Branch
The official website for U.S. federal legislative information
Includes the text and status of legislation, the Congressional Record, member profiles, committee information and meeting transcripts, executive communications, and more.
Congressional documents from the first 100 years of the U.S. Congress (1774-1875) can be accessed through A Century of Lawmaking.

Congressional Record Bound Edition, 1789-1997
Search the Congressional Record from 1789 to 1997

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation

U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

Center for Legislative Archives
The Center for Legislative Archives preserves and makes available to researchers the historical records of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Legislator Data
Provides access to NCSL's 50 state bill tracking databases.

State of Virginia Documents

Code of Virginia
Access through Virginia's Legislative Information System (LIS)

Legislative Information System

Legislative bills and resolutions; sessions of the Virginia General Assembly from 1994-present. Also includes Code of Virginia, Virginia Administrative Code, and Constitution of Virginia.

VA State Documents (Library of VA)
A list of publications currently in print and available to the public from agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Public Opinion Measures


Gallup Poll
Most recent versions are available online. 
Simpson Library has 1935-2017 in print. (see below)
An international collaborative project whose aim is to give voice to public opinion around the world on international issue is managed by the Program for Public Consultation.

Public Opinion Digests
These digests provide comprehensive analyses of international and US polls on the world’s most pressing challenges — and the institutions designed to address them.

Pew Research Center
U.S. and international surveys, demographic analysis, and more.

International Government Documents

Sources of Online Legal Information for African Countries
Identifies online resources for locating the legal materials of African states

Avalon Project
Contains "digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government."
Maintained by the Lillian Goldman Law Library (Yale Law School).

Constitute Project
Links to constitutions of countries worldwide.


European Union: Legislation and Treaties

EU legislation is divided into primary and secondary. The treaties (primary legislation) are the basis or ground rules for all EU action.
Secondary legislation – which includes regulations, directives and decisions – are derived from the principles and objectives set out in the treaties.


Council of the European Union: Documents and Publications

The register has references to or the contents of the Council documents from 1999 onwards.
The official home of UK legislation, 1267-present.
Due to Brexit, UK's legislation documents are not viewable on the EU's website.
This includes most (but not all) types of legislation and their accompanying explanatory documents.

United Kingdom - Official Documents
Command Papers include government policy, proposals, treaties, and other documents; House of Commons Papers (HCP's) document reports, votes, and proceedings of Parliamentary sessions.
Since Brexit, information about the United Kingdom is not available on the European Union website


Milestone Documents in World History (online)

Includes treaties, declarations, speeches and other primary sources from major events in world history
Also available in the library (see below)


PARLINE: Global Data on National Parliaments
Authoritative data on the parliaments of the world. It comprises 600+ data points for every country where there is a functioning parliament. Parline is produced with the cooperation of national parliaments.

Websites of National Parliaments (Inter-Parliamentary Union)
Information on approximately 179 member countries.