in each House for the select and special committees for which individual volumes
had not been issued. Each index was bound with the volume or volumes which it
Ben: Perley Poore's "Descriptive catalogue of Government publications of United
States, Sept. 5, 1774-Mar. 4, 1881," published in 1885, has proved a boon to all users
of public documents. The Senate, on Mar. 24, 1881, passed a resolution calling on the
headsof each of the Executive Departments " to report to the Senate * * * complete
lists of any and all books, reports, documents, and pamphlets issued, printed, or
published by their respective departments, and by each and every bureau and officer
thereof, from Mar. 4, 1789, to Mar. 4, 1881." In reply to this resolution, lists were
submitted by the Interior, Justice, Navy, and War Departments. These lists were
all sadly deficient and the titles often so abbreviated as to conceal the identity of the
The Treasury Department replied to the effect that "The records of this Department
fail to give the information called for, as it is within a short time only that steps have
been taken to preserve in consecutiv. order the various reports, documents, pamphlets;
circulars, &c., issued therefrom." The Post-Office and State Departments, so far as
known, made no reply at all.
These lists formed the basis for Poore's catalogue, the publication of which was
provided for by act of July 27, 1882. The book is arranged chronologically, and has a
very full index, without which the "Descriptive catalogue" would be useless. It
was a huge undertaking and for the period covered it has been of immense service,
in spite of the fact that it is unwieldy, incomplete, difficult to consult, and sometimes
inaccurate. A very large proportion of its entries are for Congressional documents
only. It is deplorably weak in departmental publications, so much so that the title
of the work is a misnomer.
AMES'S COMPREHENSIVE INDEXES
In 1894, under a concurrent resolution of Mar. 3, 1893, there was printed a volume
which had been prepared by Dr. John G. Ames, then in charge of the Document
Division of the Interior Department. This volume was entitled "Comprehensive
index of publications of United States Government, 1889-93." It covered a period of
4 years, but there was left agap of 8 years, not covered by any general index. In order
to fill in this gap between Poore's catalogue and the Document catalogues issued by
the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, which began with Mar.
4, 1893, Congress by joint resolution approved Mar. 3, 1897, authorized Dr. Ames to
prepare another edition of his Comprehensive index, to include all that the first edition
included and to begin with 1881, where Poore's catalogue left off. This new edition
of Ames's index, which was issued in 1905, comprised 2 volumes of about 1600 pages
in all, with title, "Comprehensive index to publications of United States Government,
Experience has taught that this 2-volumed edition of the "Comprehensive index"
is not so "comprehensive" as it ought by rights to be. It does not by any means
include all the public documents which were issued during the twelve years from
1881 to 1893, the period of the 47th to the 52d Congresses, inclusive. Like its predecessor,
Poore's catalogue, it lacks entries for a very large number of departmental
HICKCOX'S MONTHLY CATALOGUE
It is fitting that mention be made here of another catalogue, in 10 volumes, which
though a private venture and not published under the auspices of the Government,
was nevertheless the precursor of the Monthly catalogue of the Office of the Superintendent
of Documents and was discontinued when that publication began.
United States. Superintendent of Documents. Checklist of United States Public Documents, 1789-1909, Third Edition Revised and Enlarged, Volume 1, Lists of Congressional and Departmental Publications. Washington. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1029/. Accessed May 1, 2016.