Notable Government Documents

About the Notable Government Documents To recognize excellence in government publications, identify documents of distinction, and commend
individual works of superlative nature.

The "Notable Documents List" was originally begun by the Notable Documents Panel of the American Library Association's Government Documents Round Table, with hopes that the list would promote awareness and acquisition of government publications by libraries and use by library patrons. The list also was intended to recognize the individuals and agencies involved in producing these excellent sources of information and inspiration.

The Notable Documents Panel was initiated in 1982, by a proposal from the Education Task Force to the GODORT Steering Committee. The annotated citations lead to hundreds of outstanding publications from all levels of government and in an ever expanding range of formats. Reprints are available free as a public service from LexisNexis, 7500 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814.

The "Notable Documents List" first appeared in RQ in the 1984 and 1985 spring issues. From 1986 on it has been published in the May 15 issue of Library Journal. Yearly citations cover documents from the previous two years, so "1983 Notable Documents List" published in 1984 would include items published in 1982/1983 and so on. Beginning in the early nineties, the annual feature took on distinctive titles, with the subtitle "Notable Documents" and, 1992 on, "Notable Government Documents."

A complete bibliography of the lists can be found

Administered by:

Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) logo

Federal Documents

2011 Selection(s)

Beneath the Surface: Thirty Years of Historical Geography in Skagway, Alaska.

by Becky M. Saleeby. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Alaska Regional Office. 2011. 228p. illus. maps. SuDoc# I 29.2:SU 7/3.

In a single volume, the National Park Service has summarized 30 years of archaeological fieldwork in Skagway, AK, and in the surrounding villages and ghost towns that served as supply stations and recreation spots for the estimated 100,000 individuals who sought their fortune along the Yukon River in the 1890s. Illustrated with historic photographs of street scenes and images of many of the artifacts retrieved from privies and trash pits, this absorbing document illustrates domestic and professional life on the Alaska frontier.

Bumble Bees of the Eastern United States

by Sheila Colla & others. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Pollinator Partnership. 2011. 103p. illus. map. SuDoc# A 13.2:B 39/8.

Designed for use as a field guide, this volume fills the needs of melittologists (those who study bees) of all ages for a quick and easy way of identifying the 21 species of bumble bee (genus bombus) most commonly encountered between the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River. With close-up color photographs, body part diagrams, maps, and charts; beautifully browsable.

Cathlapotle and Its Inhabitants, 1792–1860: A Report Prepared for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1

by Robert Boyd. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Svc. 2011. 209p. illus. maps. SuDoc# I 49.111:15.

Anthropologist Boyd has written the most comprehensive synthesis to date of known ethnographic and historic information concerning the “Cathlapotle Reach,” a stretch of the Columbia River from Longview to Vancouver. Focusing on one of the two largest and best preserved Portland Basin villages, Cathlapotle, located on what is now the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Boyd explores the identity of its Native inhabitants from the beginning of Euroamerican contact in 1792 through 1860, by which time most had been removed to reservations. The report uses extensive excerpts from primary source materials and illustrative maps and graphics to clarify the cultural and territorial bases of Native identities in the Cathlapotle Reach. Boyd draws on more than 35 years of anthropological research and teaching about Pacific Northwest Native American ethnohistory, cultural contact and change, cultural ecology, and medical anthropology.

The Center of the World, the Edge of the World: A History of Lava Beds National Monument

by Frederick L. Brown. National Park Svc., Pacific West Regional Office. 2011. 348p. illus. maps. SuDoc# I 29.58/3:L 38.

This NPS tract portrays the human history of north-central California’s Lava Beds National Monument region from its beginning as the ancestral homeland of the Modoc. Artifacts, hieroglyphs, and rock paintings illuminate the lifestyle of these people before the arrival of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Drawings by Edward Kern and Charles Preuss illustrate Capt. John C. Fremont’s expedition into the area in 1846. The lava beds were designated a national monument by presidential proclamation in 1925.

Confronting the Nation’s Fiscal Policy Challenges: Statement of Douglas W. Elmendorf, Director, Before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, U.S. Congress

U.S. Congressional Budget Office. 2011. Online. SuDoc# Y 10.2:P 75/9.

The so-called Super Committee created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 was charged with formulating a bipartisan recommendation for dealing with budget challenges created by an aging population, the rising cost of health care, and declining revenues. On November 21, 2011, the committee acknowledged that it had failed to reach consensus regarding legislation; however, it did release this document, which outlines its research findings and its budget predictions. Written for nonspecialists, it presents a dire outlook if voters are unable to overcome their partisanship. 

Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862–1867

by William A. Dobak. U.S. Army Center of Military History. 2011. 553p. illus. maps. SuDoc# D 114.19:SW 7. GPO Stock# 008-029-00542-5. $38.

In what may be the definitive “operational history” of black troops in action during the Civil War, Dobak describes the differences in how freedmen and runaway slaves were recruited, how they lived, and how they were trained. Most important, it considers how gallantly these men performed in combat at a time when many of their own leaders questioned whether they would be willing to fight for their own freedom and for that of their families. Much of the documentation comes from the “War of the Rebellion” ­series.

Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Printing Office; 150 years of Service to the Nation

U.S. GPO. 2011. 149p. illus. SuDoc# GP 1.2:IN 3/2. GPO Stock# 021-000-00212-7. $21.

Liberally illustrated with historical photographs and facsimiles of famous government documents, this volume will appeal to a wider audience than depository librarians. Historians and history buffs who have an interest in government and how it interacts with both the private sector and public employee unions will find a compelling story that focuses on the federal government’s obligation to keep citizens informed about its activities.

Legacy of Excellence: The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, 1862–2011

by Paul Stone. U.S. Army Medical Center & School, Borden Inst. 2011. 251p. illus. SuDoc# D 101.2:AR 5/104. GPO Stock# 008-000-01043-9. $65.

In 1862, shortly after the Battle of Antietam, army surgeon general Brigadier Gen. William Hammond ordered the establishment of the Army Medical Museum. Surgeons working on Civil War battlefields were encouraged to preserve anatomical specimens, such as severed limbs and diseased organs, and send them to the museum for further research. From the start, the museum made its displays of specimens and instruments, as well as its medical library, available to the general public. Under the leadership of later curators, such as John Billings and Walter Reed, the museum evolved into the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Readers interested in the history of science, especially medical science or in the devastating effects of Civil War weaponry on the human body, will be fascinated by the hundreds of graphic photographs.

Macondo: The Gulf Oil Disaster: Chief Counsel’s Report

U.S. National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill & Offshore Drilling. 2011. 357p. illus. SuDoc# PR 44.8:D 36/M 23. GPO Stock# 040-000-00787-3. $35.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was created by President Obama and charged with investigating the root causes of the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The committee concluded that the cause of the blowout was not mechanical. Instead, a number of poor management decisions, combined with an inadequate regulatory structure and an indifferent regulatory agency, overwhelmed the safeguards designed to prevent such disasters. Plenty of illustrations and photographs offer a glimpse into the technology of offshore oil rigs.

Mexico’s “Narco-Refugees”: The Looming Challenge for U.S. National Security

Strategic Studies Inst., U.S. Army War Coll. 2011. 40p. SuDoc# D 101.146:N 16.

This report focuses on the growing challenge to American immigration and national security policy posed by Mexicans who involuntarily cross the border in order to escape the violence of the brutal drug cartels that operate in their country. Current immigration policy allows refugees to seek political asylum in the United States when they are targeted victims of religious and political persecution. Alternatively, those who have been directly threatened by drug lords have been returned to Mexico as the U.S. authorities to whom they must appeal are suspicious of undocumented border crossings that don’t fall under the umbrella of current policy.