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HISTORY 600: America and China (Fall 2020) : Full-text government publication collections in English

Documents from various national governments

Chinese Foreign Policy Database

  • From the Wilson Center Digital Archive, which “contains once-secret documents from governments all across the globe, uncovering new sources and providing fresh insights into the history of international relations and diplomacy. The Digital Archive is overseen by the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program and focuses on the interrelated histories of the Cold War, Korea, and nuclear proliferation."   
  • "Curating 1000s of documents from Chinese and international archives, [this database] offers insights into China’s foreign policy since 1949 and its relationship to ideology, revolution, the economy, and traditional Chinese culture.”
  • Can search the collection by typing key words in the search box at the top left of the page, above the “Wilson Center” logo.  
    • Links to “collections” related to search terms will appear at the top of the results list, followed by links to individual documents.
  • For more information on the source of an individual document, click “Document information” at the very bottom of the column on the right.
  • If you can't find the main page of the database, click "themes" in the upper part of the page. Then click "Chinese Foreign Policy Database."
  • About the Wilson Center.
  • Results are in html only; the atabase does not have PDFs of documents

United Nations documents

United Nations Digital Library, 1945-present

  • We recommend using the advanced search.
  • To search the full text of documents, click the “Fulltext search” button on the left to move it to the “on” position.
  • Contains citations to United Nations publications and documents from 1979 forward, including UN sales publications, selected periodical articles, Official Records, and mimeographed documents from UN bodies and committees.
  • Many citations include links to the full text of UN documents, especially recent documents.

Full-text U.S. government publication collections

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1861-1988

  • Official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication.
  • Produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian.
  • Most documents are diplomatic reports and correspondence.
  • It takes a long time for these volumes to be published.  Not all volumes covering the presidents from 1968-1988 have been published yet. Volumes on U.S.-China relations during the Reagan administration (1981-1988) have not been published yet.
  • Available from three sources


Public Papers of the Presidents, 1789-present

  • Contain most of the President's public messages, statements, speeches, and news conference remarks.
  • Documents such as Proclamations, Executive Orders, and similar documents that are published in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations, as required by law, are usually not included for the presidencies of Herbert Hoover through Gerald Ford (1929-1977).
  • Documents within the Public Papers are arranged in chronological order.
  • The President delivered the remarks or addresses from Washington, D. C., unless otherwise indicated.
  • The White House in Washington issued statements, messages, and letters unless noted otherwise.
  • Available online from three sources:


ProQuest Congressional, 1789-present

  • Comprehensive, ongoing collection of U.S. Congressional publications from the late 18th century to the present.
  • Includes acts, committee reports, hearings testimony, regulations, legislative histories, the Congressional Record, the Serial Set & American State Papers.
  • Also includes documents published by Executive Branch agencies 1789-1932.
  • Updated annually.
  • Can limit searches to particular kinds of documents, such as hearings, or the Congressional Record.
  • More help with this database is available from ProQuest's guides to this database.


Declassified Documents Reference System - US (DDRS), 1945-1970s

  • Includes documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act from the period immediately after World War II through the 1970's.
  • We recommend using the “advanced” search (click “advanced” under the search box in the upper left portion of the page) for more structure and options.
  • Documents are available as keyed searchable texts and as digital facsimiles.
  • Not updated.


Digital National Security Archive, 1945-present

  • Includes over 35,000 declassified primary documents relating to US foreign policy since 1945 grouped in 20+ collections.
  • Documents compiled and organized by the National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental research institute and library which collects and publishes documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Extensive record descriptions and full text included.


Hathi Trust, all dates (but best for U.S. gov docs, and books published before 1923)

  • Full-text of works that are out of copyright or in the public domain (including many U.S. federal publications) are available for viewing or searching.
  • Items are also in Google Books but have greater availability and searchability in Hathi Trust.
  • In the cases of "limited-view" documents, you can search documents for specific words, but would have to find print copies using the library catalog or WorldCat.
  • You can log in with your partner institution account to access the largest number of volumes and features. To log in, click “Log in” in the upper right, and select your institution’s name from the menu.
  • Updated continuously.

Search Tips

See this page on Database Search Strategies for tips on searching databases.  (Video version of tips)   

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Full-text British government publication collections

Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1980

  • British Foreign Office files dealing with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan between 1919 and 1980.
  • These formerly restricted British government documents consist of diplomatic dispatches, letters, newspaper cuttings, maps, reports of court cases, biographies of leading personalities, and summaries of events.
  • Periods covered include:
    • 1919-1929: ​Kuomintang, CCP and the Third International
    • 1930-1937: The Long March, civil war in China and the Manchurian Crisis
    • 1938-1948: Open Door, Japanese war and the seeds of communist victory
  • Just above each list of search results, look for the phrase Refined by: Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1980. If this phrase does NOT appear, you're searching a much bigger collection, and probably want to
    1. Click "Collection" to the right of "Filter by"
    2. Select "Foreign Office Files for China, 1919-1980."
    3. Click "Apply."
    Otherwise, your search results will be much less focused.


U.K. Parliamentary Papers, 1688-2004

  • Includes all of the papers issued by the House of Commons between 1715 through the 21st century in all formats, including: Bills, Reports of Royal Commissions, Reports of Select Committees, Accounts and Papers, Command Papers.
  • All papers are full-text searchable with hit-term highlighting.
  • Includes full text from Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament, from both the House of Commons and House of Lords, from 1803-2005.


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Beth Harper
Memorial Library
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Government Information Specialist