This week, the United States Government Printing Office (GPO) announced that it will be partnering with the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register to digitize all back issues of the Federal Register. The Federal Register, which started in 1936, is published daily with rules, proposed rules, and notices from federal agencies as well as executive materials. The announcement states that this project, which will digitize two million pages, will be complete in 2016.
Digitizing all issues back to 1936 will greatly expand free access to this valuable resource. Currently, the Federal Register is available through subscription databases such as Westlaw, Lexis, and HeinOnline back to 1936, with HeinOnline being the only database of the three providing the publication in PDF format. While free access to the Federal Register is currently available on the GPO’s FDsys website, the coverage only goes back to 1994. In fact, many of the document collections available through FDsys only go back to the mid-1990s as well. The digitization of these historical issues of the Federal Register is a welcome project and is hopefully just the start of more digitization projects covering historical federal legal materials!