Tip of the Week: How to Locate U.S. Presidential Commission Reports

3 MIN READ

For more than a century, presidents have created advisory groups to advise them on problems or issues. Typically, the group’s task is to analyze a situation, explain the cause of the problem, and make recommendations for change.   

Presidential commissions have been used to explain catastrophes such as the Gulf oil spill, the Challenger Space Shuttle incident, Pearl Harbor, and the AIDS tragedy. 

Named to the 2018 list of Best Historical Materials, HeinOnline’s Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies is a unique resource containing the most current and comprehensive listing of publications created by presidential advisory bodies from the administrations of Andrew Jackson to Joe Biden. Originally curated from Louis W. (Bill) Bookheim’s 2017 print publication, this online database now contains nearly 2,500 entries. With our last content release, we added more than 100 new reports! Spoiler alert, we’re adding nearly 90 more this month.

Watch this short video or keep reading to learn how to locate U.S. Presidential Commission reports in HeinOnline.

Browsing the Commission Reports Index

On the main database page, users are immediately presented with the Commission Reports Index. From here, browse or search all indexed or full-text report entries by president, commission name, commission subject, or report title.

image of database homepage

Browse by President

With the President browse by option, select any president to view their specific list of commissions, councils, or advisory boards. Let’s look at Joe Biden’s Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States. Once we select this task force, we can see all the related documents, such as the executive order calling for the establishment of a commission on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Browse by Commission Name

Choose to browse by Commission Name and find a navigable alphabetical list of all commissions for which HeinOnline has entries. Where popular (yet unofficial) commission names are listed, HeinOnline redirects the user to the official commission name. 

image of a popular commission name in the Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions Library

Select any commission name to view the available reports for that commission. As an example, we’ve selected Bill Clinton’s Assassination Records Review Board below.

example of the Assassination Records Review Board listed under Commission Name

Browse by Commission Name

Alternatively, browse by Commission Subject to find any commission reports that fall under a particular subject. Use the A-Z index to browse through all options.  

image of A-Z index under commission Subject browse by option

For example, navigate to H to find documents on the Holocaust.

image of Commission subjects listed under the letter H

Browse by Report Title

Lastly, browse by Report Title to find a navigable alphabetical list of all reports for which HeinOnline has entries. Select any report to be directed to its related commission.

As an example, select Achieving an AIDS-Free Generation, from President Barack Obama’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

image of a Report under the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

Searching the Commission Reports Index

From the main database page, or within the Advanced Search option, users can take advantage of the Commission Reports Search Tool. 

image of search tool on Reports of U.S. Presidential Commission homepage

Use the tool to perform a tailored search for a keyword, president, subject, name/author, or report title relating to a specific commission. Let’s search for all reports relating to President Bush and the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States, while limiting the results to those published between 2001 and 2005. 

image of search tool example

Select any of the results to be brought to the report. 

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Want to Learn More?

Keep reading about U.S. Presidential Commissions with the HeinOnline Blog. We especially think you might find this blog on conspiracies quite interesting!

Or, check out our Tip of the Week category for more quick tips and tricks on navigating HeinOnline.

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