Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government, 1881-1893, Vol. 1. Page: III
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This work has been compiled in compliance with the provisions of a joint resolution approved March 3, 1897,
which directs the preparation "of an index to all publications of the Government from 1881, the date at which
the Descriptive Catalogue of Government Publications by Ben: Perley Poore terminates, to 1893, the date at
which the index by the Superintendent of Documents begins, said index to conform in its general plan to the
Comprehensive Index of Government Publications from 1889 to 1893," published in 1894. The publications
indexed are therefore those issued during the period covered by the Forty-seventh to the Fifty-second
Congresses, inclusive, printed either by order of Congress or by the several Executive Departments of the
It was thought that the work.could be completed within five or six years, but it proved to be of unexpected
magnitude and to involve an amount of labor far in excess of what had been anticipated. It is at length issued
in the confident hope that it will be found to be an acceptable contribution to the bibliographical literature of the
Government-an efficient and therefore a welcome aid to all who have occasion often to consult public documents.
The considerations which determined and seemed fully to justify the form and scope of the work are set forth
in the preface to the Comprehensive Index issued in 1894, as follows:
"To anyone familiar with the publications of the Government it must be evident that a satisfactory index of
the same must be suigeneis, differing, in certain important respects, from that of any other series of publications:
This is rendered necessary, in the first place, by the peculiar and complicated classification of public documents,
and, in the second place, by the multiplicity of editions of many of these documents, issued in distinct series and
under different titles. Such an index must not only contain a reference to every document published, but it-must
clearly indicate where the document is to be found in the several series under which Government publications are
classified, and if issued in more than one edition or series then a reference to each edition or series must be given.
"Many documents, for instance, are published as Executive or Miscellaneous documents of the Senate or
House of Representatives; again, in a different style of binding and with a different title, as reports or
publications of an Executive Department, and again, with still another title, as reports of a particular bureau
or office of the department. To subserve the largest convenience, therefore, an index must take cognizance of
each of these editions.
"The question of making the work an authors' as well as a subject index has received careful consideration.
Of course the one essential element in such an index is the subject, to which the author must be held entirely
subordinate. To incorporate an authors' index with the subject index would materially increase the bulk of the
work, with no corresponding advantage. At the same time it is regarded as important that the author of every
document, or the source from which it emanates, should be indicated.
"As all public documents are printed at the Government Printing Office at Washington, no reference is
made to their place of publication; and as they are all publications of the United States, very few of them are
indexed under the title ' United States.' In an index of miscellaneous books these references might be necessary
or important, but not in an index devoted exclusively to public documents.
"The above considerations have determined the special form or arrangement given to the index. The lefthand
column shows the origin of documents indexed; the Executive Department or office from which they come,
if Executive documents; the committees of the Senate or House presenting them, if reports, and the individual
member of the committee making the report; and the authors of most of the miscellaneous documents and
papers referred to. For convenience of reference, an alphabetical index to these authors and persons for the
entire work is appended at the end of each volume.
"The right-hand column shows their classification as Congressional documents-i. e., as Executive documents,
Miscellaneous documents, and Reports of Committees of the Senate and House of Representativesindicating
the Congress and session to which they appertain, the volume of the series in which each is embraced
or which it forms, the serial number of the document, and the number of pages it contains.
"The middle or principal column is the index itself, showing as concisely as practicable the subject of each
and every document accessible published during the period covered by the index, together with its date, and in
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Ames, John G. (John Griffith) 1834-1910. Comprehensive Index to the Publications of the United States Government, 1881-1893, Vol. 1., book, 1905; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1497/m1/3/: accessed July 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.