Genealogy in Public Documents

The Government and Business Department is a depository for U.S. government publications. Numerous government publications are useful for family history research. Most public documents are in our catalog; please ask a librarian for assistance if you are having trouble locating a particular item.

Public Documents are official publications of the U.S. government. These items contain Census statistics, archival holdings, military history, and related information. Most public documents do not contain individual names; the few that are most useful for genealogy purposes are described below.

Please note that U.S. Census records with individual names are located in the History & Genealogy Department. The Public Documents & Patents Department does not have vital records such as birth or death certificates or marriage licenses.

Census Resources

The Public Documents & Patents Department has U.S. statistics and data from 1790–2000.

Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary of Military Services, with Their Names, Ages, and Place of Residence.
Blair & Rives, 1841.
P.D. I 7.5:3
Names of Revolutionary War and other military veterans and their descendants entitled to military pensions in 1840.

A Century of Population Growth: From the First Census of the U.S. to the Twelfth, 1790–1900.
U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1909.
P.D. C 3.2: P81.
Table of surnames in 1790 and how many families had that name.

Heads of Families at the First Census.
U.S. Census Bureau, 1907–8.
C 3.11: (11 vols).
Listings, by name, of the heads of households for all states. Includes a tally, with no names, of free white males, females, and slaves in the household.

200 Years of U.S. Census Taking: Questions 1790–1990.
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1989.
P.D. C 3.2:T93.
List of questions asked in each Census.

Other Genealogy Resources

Abstracts of Service Records of Naval Officers, 1829–1924.
National Archives, 1987.
P.D. AE 1.119:M1328.
Index to National Archives records on Naval officers.

Air Force Register.
U.S. Air Force. 1948+
P.D. M 108.8: 1948–49; P.D. D 303.7: 1950–72, 1982–84.
Listings of active and retired Air Force officers.

American Decorations.
U. S. War Department.
P.D. W 3.2:M46/9.
Supplement I (P.D. W 3.2:M46/9 Sup. 1) covers years 1927–1937.
Winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Distinguished Service Cross from 1862–1926.

American State Papers and Serial Set.
The American State Papers and the Serial Set contain reports, documents, and studies issued by or submitted to the U.S. Congress. Information of interest to genealogists may include private laws, pension claims, petitions, registers, land grants, immigration, mail contracts and other lists which include specific names.
A detailed, multi-volume index is available, CIS U.S. Serial Set Index R348.7325 qI38.

Army List & Directory.
U. S. War Department
P.D. W 3.10: 1929–1941.
Listing of active duty Army Officers in order of seniority within the different units of the Army. Similar to the Army Register.

Army National Guard Register.
Department of the Army
P.D. D 12.9: 1959–1976
National Guard Bureau
P.D. D 112.8: 1951–1958; W 70.5: 1922–1931, scattered years through 1950.
Lists current and retired officers in the Army National Guard.

Army Register.
United States War Office, 1789+.
P.D. W 3.11: 1789–1947; M 108.8: 1948–1950; D 102.9: 1950–1973.
Listings of active and retired Army officers. The first two volumes cover 1789–1903 and list all officers who served, including those who were killed or wounded. First two volumes also available as Serial Set vols. 4535 & 4536.

CIS Index to Executive Branch Documents, 1789–1909.
CIS, 1990.
R011.534 qC579 1990 Index.
Detailed, six-volume index to executive branch publications. Index volumes include a heading for “Names List: Individual,” which is a good way to find documents which include individual names.

Combined Lineal List of Officers on Active Duty in the Marine Corps.
U.S. Marine Corps.
P.D. D 214.11: 1958–1963.
Listing of Marine Corps officers, covers scattered years from 1958–1963.

Foreign Service List.
Department of State
P.D. S 1.7: 1928–1973.
Directory of U.S. Foreign Service personnel stationed overseas.

Foreign Versions, Variations, and Diminutives of English Names.
U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1973.
P.D. J 21.2: N15/973.
Foreign language equivalents for common given names.

General Land Office Automated Records Project.
General Land Office
Compact Disk Series. P.D. I 53.57: (Letters).
General Land Office records of sales or grants of public lands in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin up to 1908. A website is available with similar information for additional states at

Generations Past: A Selected List of Sources for Afro-American Genealogical Research.
Library of Congress, 1988.
P.D. LC 1.12/2:Af 8/4.
Guidebook to African-American genealogy resources.

Guide to Federal Archives Relating to the Civil War.
National Archives, 1962.
P.D. GS 4.6/2:C49.
Availability of National Archives records on Civil War actions.

Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives in the U.S.
National Archives, 1995.
P.D. AE 1.108:G94. (3 vols).
Comprehensive listing of government agency records in the national archives.

Index, Journals of the Continental Congress.
National Archives, 1976.
P.D. GS 4.2:C76/2: 1774–1789.
Index to the 34-volume set of the Continental Congress’s journals, shelved LC 4.5.

Les Combattants Francais de la Guerre Americaine, 1778–1783
U.S. Congress. Senate, 58th Congress, 2nd Session, (S. Doc. 58–77), 1905.
Serial Set vol. 4595.
Lists names of French soldiers who fought on the American side during the Revolutionary War.

List of Mothers and Widows of American Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.
U.S. Congress. House, 71st Congress, 2nd Session, (H. Doc. 71–140), 1930.
Serial Set vol. 9225.
List of widows and mothers, with their addresses, of World War I servicemen killed in battle and buried in Europe.

List of Officers of Merchant Vessels.
Steamboat Inspection Service.
P.D. C 15.7: 1907–1915.
Steamboat Inspection Service document with an annual list of licensed ship masters, pilots, mates, engineers, and operators of steam vessels.

List of Passengers.
U.S. Congress. Senate, 16th Congress, 2nd Session, (S. Doc 16–118), 1821.
Serial Set vol. 45.
Names of passenger arrivals during 1820.

Names of Pensioners on Roll, January 1, 1883
U.S. Congress. Senate, 47th Congress, 2nd Session (S. Exec. Doc. 47–84), 1883.
Serial Set vols. 2078–2082 (5 vols).
List of those entitled to military or widows pensions in 1883.

Navy Register.
Department of the Navy
P.D. N 1.10: 1863–1955; D 208.12: 1956+.
Listings of active and retired Naval officers. Continued from 1956–1994 by Register of Commissioned & Warrant Officers of the Navy and Marine Corps. A Register for retired officers is available from 1955–1992. P.D. D 208.12/2.

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of Rebellion.
Navy Department, 1894+.
P.D. N 16.6. (30 vols).
Official records of Naval action during the Civil War.

Official Register.
Department of Commerce
P.D. C 3.10: 1816–1932
United States Civil Service Commission
P.D. CS 1.31: 1933–1954. Frequency varies.
Directory of persons occupying administrative and supervisory positions in various branches of the federal government. Entries, at times, have included home state and salary of office holder.

Pension Rolls of U.S.
U.S. Congress. Senate, 23rd Congress, 1st Session, (S. Doc. 34–513), 1835.
Serial Set vols. 249–251.
Three-volume set which lists all recipients of a federal pension, arranged by state and county.

Register of Officers.
U.S. Coast Guard.
P.D. TD 5.19: 1968–1972, 1974–1979, 1983–84; Microfiche 1980–1996 scattered years.
List of active duty Coast Guard officers.

Register of Reserve Officers.
U.S. Coast Guard.
P.D. TD 5.19/2: 1968–1976, 1978; Microfiche 1981–1997 scattered.
List of Coast Guard Reserve officers.

Register of the Department of State.
Department of State
P.D. S 1.6: 1917–1948; S 1.69: 1949–1974.
List of American diplomats and civilians assigned to foreign embassies around the world.

Roll of Honor.
U. S. War Department. 1865–1871.
P.D. W 39.7: (7 volumes).
Lists of names of Union soldiers killed during the Civil War and buried in National cemeteries. Volume 1 of the set, Andersonville Martyrs, lists Union soldiers who died in Andersonville Prison in Georgia.

Territorial Papers of the U.S. 1936+ .
Department of State
P.D. S 1.36: vols. 1–21.
National Archives Administration
P.D. GS 4.13: vols. 22–28.
Thoroughly indexed histories of many states, including Ohio, during their territorial eras.

United States Army Unit Histories
U.S. Army Center for Military History, 1978.
P.D. D 114.14:4/2/v.1–2.
National Archives holdings of Army Unit Histories during World War II.

U.S. Statutes at Large. 1789- date.
Department of State
P.D. S 7.9: 1789–1954.
National Archives Administration
P.D. GS 4.111: 1955–1983.
P.D. AE 2.111: 1984+.
Includes public and private laws passed by Congress. Each volume has an individual name index to private laws passed. Available in microfiche from 1789–1931, MFC348.7322 U58.

Where to Write for Vital Records.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1999.
P.D. HE 20.6210/2:999.
Current contacts for obtaining birth, death, marriage, and divorce records state-by-state nationwide. Also available on the internet at