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the Federal Government

An Educational Portal to Federal History, Historical Resources, and Historical Programs

about the rich and varied histories
of over 260 federal agencies

troves of federal documents,
images, artifacts, 
and more

Specialized historical resources


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History@fedgov links to every known history page created by an agency of the federal government, from Cabinet departments to the smallest independent commissions. "Agency" is an ambiguous term that is defined variously by Congress and the federal courts. Published lists of agencies range from 118 to over 600. According to the Sourcebook of the Administrative Conference of the U.S., there can be no fixed list of federal agencies, because the question of whether a given federal entity is legally an agency is constantly being addressed in court. Regardless of the question of number, for the purposes of this website any federal entity that is known to provide a historical page in its website is deemed to be worthy of inclusion. At some point its staff, whether professional historians or not, had decided that its past had enough national importance to justify creating a "history page" to be shared with the world. It would be difficult to reject the judgment of people who knew the agency best.

The resulting collection of agency histories listed here provides a detailed record, not just of government in the nation’s Capital, but of its activities across the United States throughout history. The histories are organized separately below, under whichever of the three branches of government that houses them. But it is important to remember that regardless of the branch, many agencies blur the lines of the supposed "separation of powers" and deal with more than one branch.

These histories vary widely in scope. Some provide only brief accounts of an agency’s origins. Others include book-length narrative histories, rich collections of historical documents and images, classroom-ready teaching and learning materials, and more. It is recommended that users thoroughly explore the history pages. Many of them include links to related websites.

Many federal agencies have a historical office. Among their varied services, federal historians research and write for publication and internal use, edit historical documents, preserve historical sites and artifacts, and provide historical information to the public through Websites and other media. When contact information for a historical office is available on an agency Website, it is provided here with the agency's listing. If you work in or know of a historical office that is not listed, please send contact information to

Educational Resources Page: Visit this page for ideas on how to critically evaluate federal agencies and their histories, and for study questions and activity ideas for the use of teachers and for students of all ages. Be sure also to take advantage of the excellent educational pages included with many Agency Histories and in the Historical Resources listings below.

Alphabetical Finding Aid: If you are interested in a particular agency, use this list to quickly see if it is included and to connect directly to its history page.

If you know of an agency whose history is not represented here, or if you find a broken link, please contact us at We will be happy to update the listings as needed.



The more than 250 Executive Branch agency history links are listed separately. To see links, click on one of the categories below. You may also click here to see the complete list of links.

The President of the United States

The Civilian Cabinet Departments:

The Department of Defense and Related Agencies

Independent Agencies and Government Corporations

Miscellaneous Bodies: Boards, Commissions, and Committees; Quasi-Official Agencies; and Bilateral Organizations

Architect of the Capitol

Government Accountability Office

U.S. House of Representatives
Contact the Historian at
Office of the Clerk

Open World Leadership Center

U.S. Senate

Senate Historical Office
Contact the Historian at

Congressional Budget Office

Government Publishing Office
Contact the Historian at

Library of Congress
“Jefferson’s Legacy” - Brief History
Contact the Historian at

U.S. Botanic Garden


General Sources on Federal Agency History

Federal Judicial Center

U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims

Court of International Trade

U.S. Sentencing Commission

“Research by Federal Government Organization,” National Archives and Records Administration
This list of over 400 existing and past departments, bureaus, and other offices links to NARA’s descriptions of the Record Groups (RGs) that contain their official records. The descriptions of the RGs contain valuable information on the creation of the offices and on changes in organization that they underwent.

This is an important tool for obtaining basic information on the organizations and for planning research into their histories. Please check the list to supplement histories linked from History@fedgov or for information about offices that are defunct or existing offices that do not maintain history pages.

"History of Agency Organizational Changes," U.S. Government Manual
This section contains about a thousand entries that describe briefly any organizational changes the government has made in existing or past agencies. Those that have never undergone any such changes do not appear here.

Internet Archives/Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine maintains a searchable database of over 300 billion past websites or out-of-date versions of current sites, including many versions of most federal history web pages.


caption for this imageThe federal government has been creating and collecting physical documents and objects that represent both its own and American history since the founding era. The Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the other resources linked below preserve these materials and make them available to the public. Check out the many teaching and learning aids that they provide. Users should be aware that, while this list contains most of the major websites, it is not comprehensive. Be alert to links that many of them provide to other online resources. And be sure to explore the resources available in many websites in the Agency Histories section above. The more substantial agency collections are featured below under "Specialized Historical Collections."

Library of Congress

Education Resources

Government Publishing Office

Catalog of current and historical publications

“Ben’s Guide” to the Federal Government – Learning pages

National Archives and Records Administration

Educator Resources

America’s Historical Documents

Center for Legislative Archives

National Declassification Center Blog

Presidential Libraries and Museums

National Historical Publications and Records Commission

Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian History Explorer

American Art Museum/Renwick Gallery

Anacostia Community Museum

Archives of American Art

Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian Design Museum

Freer – Sackler Museums of Asian Art

National Portrait Gallery

National Postal Museum

National Museum of African Art

National Museum of American History

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of the American Indian

National Air and Space Museum

National Park Service

Learn and Explore Pages

National Register of Historic Places: Teaching with Historic Places

Heritage Documentation Programs
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Specialized Historical Collections

Many federal offices provide substantial historical documents and learning materials. The known sources are listed below. In some cases an agency-history link is duplicated. We invite users to alert us to additional resource-pages via email at

The Congress

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senate

Architect of the Capitol

Education Resources

Online Exhibits

Civilian Departments

Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

Department of Agriculture - National Agricultural Library

Department of Commerce - Census Bureau

Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Department of Energy

Department of Health and Human Services - Food and Drug Administration

Department of Health and Human Services - National Institutes of Health

Department of Homeland Security - U.S. Coast Guard

Department of Labor

Department of State – Foreign Relations of the United States series

Department of the Interior - Fish and Wildlife Service

Department of the Interior - Board of Geographic Names/Domestic Names

Department of the Treasury - Bureau of the Mint

Department of Transportation - Maritime Administration

Department of Veterans Affairs - National Cemetery Administration

Department of Defense and Related Agencies

Office of the Secretary of Defense

Joint Chiefs of Staff

Air Force Historical Research Agency

Army Center of Military History

Army Corps of Engineers - History Collections

Naval History and Heritage Command

Central Intelligence Agency Library

National Security Agency – Central Security Service

Military History Museums

Army Women’s Museum

National Museum of the Marine Corps

Naval History and Heritage Command – Visit Our Museums

National Cryptological Museum

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

National Museum of the U.S. Army

Independent Agencies

Federal Trade Commission

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Science Foundation

Social Security Administration

Branch History Societies

Three semi-official historical organizations, one for each branch of government, supplement government sources and provide extensive documentary and learning materials.

U.S. Capitol Historical Society

Supreme Court Historical Society

White House Historical Association


Society for History in the Federal Government
PO BOX 14139
Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044

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