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Latin American Studies: Government Resources (US and International - Including Law)

An introductory guide to doing research in Latin American studies in the UCSD Library

Additional Resources


Selected Bibliography of US Government and International Documents on Latin America and the Caribbean 

Maintained by the American Library Association's Government Document's Round Table

UCSD's U.S. Government Information Research Guide  

This provides a great introduction to major access points and strategies to find U.S. government resources.

UCSD's Law Research Guide  

This guide organizes resources into US, California, International, Local and Municipal and other categories (such as the History of Law). The International Law tab is particularly useful for finding information about Latin American Law (including accessing the laws themselves).

 Pages with Resources by Theme on this guide -- including:


United Nations

Latin American Government Resources

An excellent portal to many Latin American government resources is LANIC's Government Link (on its homepage). You can explore Latin American government websites by country, subject, branch (i.e. Law & Justice, Military, Political Parties), etc.


Brazilian Government Documents 

Executive branch serial documents form the Brazilian government from 1821 to 1993. Also includes Presidential Messages. Maintained at the Center for Research Libraries.

Latin American Government Documents Archive (LAGDA) 

Web-archiving service capturing ministries and presidents of 18 Latin American countries. Compiled by the University of Texas at Austin.

Political Database of the Americas 

Extensive information about political systems, constitutions, electoral data, political parties, indigenous peoples, democracy and political participation in most Latin American countries. Maintained at Georgetown University.

Presidential Messages -- Argentina and Mexico 

Contains digital images of Mexican and Argentinian presidential speeches from the early 19th century to the present. Compiled by the Latin American Research Resources Project of the Center for Research Libraries.

Archivo Digital de la Legislación en el Perú 

Digital copies, in PDF, of the Peruvian

Laws and Legal Research

See UCSD's Law Research Guide

A particularly helpful database for all types of legislation and law (including international) is 

Hein Online

For international law, search in the categories: International Law and International Treaties and Agreements or select one of the following databases: History of International Law and World Constitutions Ilustrated and subject specific databases such as Religion and Law, Slavery in America and the World, and Women and the Law

The following research guides can also help with Legal research in individual Latin American Countries:


[Latin America] LLMC Digital 

Hover over the "Online Services" Box to select various ways to search the collection.

[Brazil] LEXML: Rede de Informaçao Legislativa e Jurídica 

[Mexico] (US) Library of Congress Research Guide 

[Mexico] University of Wisconsin Research Guide 

[Mexico] NYU Research Guide 

[Mexico] Arizona State U. Research Guide 

[Mexico] U Texas Research Guide 

[Mexico] AALL Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide 

Provided by the Latin American Law Interest Group (AALL)

[Mexico] SEGOB Leyes y Reglamentos Federales 

Provided by Mexico's Secretaria de Gobernación

Government Resources from Other Countries

Confidential Print: Latin America, 1833-1969 Licensed by UCSD 

The documents of Confidential Print: Latin America are full text records of the British Foreign Office covering the whole of South and Central America, plus the non-British islands of the Caribbean, from just after the final Spanish withdrawal from mainland America in the 1820s to the height of the Cold War in the 1960s. The series originated out of a need to preserve the most important papers generated by the Foreign and Colonial Offices. These range from single-page letters or telegrams to comprehensive dispatches, investigative reports and texts of treaties. All items marked ‘Confidential Print’ were printed and circulated immediately to leading officials in the Foreign Office, to the Cabinet, and to heads of British missions abroad.

UN Resources

The United Nations page of the International Studies Research Guide provides links to internet and subscription-based resources to access all types of UN information.

The Main UN website has an amazing amount of information, but can be daunting.  One helpful strategy to navigating is to use the site index (found at the bottom of the homepage).

UN News 

Information sharing portals with data about UNHCR and partners’ response to current emergencies and other protracted refugee crises

UN Collection on Critical Global Issues 

Collection of free ebooks on many topics throughout the world

UN Development Programs Project Website 

UN Gender and Land Rights Database 

Contains country-level information on social, economic, political, and cultural issues as related to gender inequalities.

UN Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC) 

The United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.

UN Habitat 

UN program dedicated to supporting urban development and the planning and building of a better urban future for next generations by promoting economic growth and social development to reduce poverty and inequalities.

UN Human Development Index 

The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. It thus provides an alternative way to measure quality of life and "wealth" than GDP. Provides access to Data/Statistics, Literature including _The Annual Development Report, News, and Publications, and Country Profiles.

UN Military Expenditures Database 

UN Population Fund 

UNFPA address reproductive health and population issues, and raises awareness of these issues in all countries.

UN Population Information Network 

Guide to UN information and website on population issues.

UN Secretary-General's database on violence against women 

UN Women 

UN Women Watch 

UN information on Gender equality and empowerment

US Government Resources

There are many strategies for finding relevant US government resources. As stated above, a great starting point is the UCSD US Government Information Research Guide.  The databases, websites, and print guides/indexes listed below are also excellent.  Several of these resources will help you identify specific publications (with call numbers that you can browse around to find more) that will have information on your topic.  Finally, you can simply go to the shelves with print documents (Geisel 2W) and browse by call number.  In order to find out which call number to browse in, you need to understand that US government documents and publications are organized by the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification Scheme, which is based on US government agencies.  In order to find out what letters (stems of classification numbers) have been assigned to different agencies, you can use the list (scroll down to the bottom of the page) provided by the US Federal Depository Library Program.

For the COVID 19 Crisis, we have access to GPO Masterfile (accessible from ROGER) which provides a bibliography covering all 245 years of U.S. government publications—twenty-seven collections with a single search and access to over 9.5 million links to digital content, including full-text printed material, maps, photographs, illustrations, and statistical datasets.

Please note that I have listed the following resources are in order of my own preference (mostly because of ease of searching), but all resources below are very important.

ProQuest Congressional  

Congressional sources provide information on virtually every topic imaginable, including any topic in foreign relations or in another country with which the US government was/is concerned. Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports are often excellent starting points for research topics, because these are studies carried out by subject experts at the Library of Congress for government employees and members of congress, and included excellent summaries and bibliographies.

National Security Archive 

An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. It provides the most comprehensive collection available of significant primary documents central to US foreign and military policy since 1945. UCSD LIbrary also subscribes to its supplementary database, the Digital National Security Archive which provides additional information.

U.S. Declassified Documents Online  

Full text of documents from various government agencies: the White House, the CIA, the FBI, the State Department and others, declassified by the U.S. government, and obtained from Presidential Libraries.

Digital National Security Archive  

Provides access to nearly 40,000 declassifed government documents from 1945 to present, organized into collections, each focused on a single topic. See also the National Security Archive website, which provides access to additional documents and information.

Foreign Relations of the United States 

Official diplomatic record of U.S. relations with other countries. Contains important speeches, communiques, and other communications of State Department officials and diplomats. There is a delay (approximately 30-40 years) in the release of information as it becomes declassified.

Reports from U.S. Diplomats stationed in particular Latin American Countries, Including:

Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files

Dispatches/Despatches from U.S. Consuls and Ministers in Specific Countries Between 1783 and 1906 

The Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files are reports by diplomats on the political, military, social, and economic events and developments in the countries in which they are stationed.  As such, they have unique and very important information for researchers.  UCSD Library holds a number of these in microform, print, and online formats.  These are catalogued individually in UC Library Search, but the titles vary -- so it is best to run a number of searches -- such as Confidential U.S. Department of State, Confidential State Department, Confidential U.S. State department, and Records of the Department of State.  It is also necessary to use the spelling "despatches" to find many of the consulate information.

To start looking for the particular set of documents that you need, consult the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) lists below:

U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) list of Department of State Consular Despatches 1783-1906

U.S. National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) Department of State Central Files

Once you’ve acquired information from the lists above (the name of the country, years, possibly the decimal/filing number), these can be found in different places:

Proquest History Vault (scroll down to find the Confidential State Department Central Files)

World Scholar Latin America and The Caribbean

Gale Primary Sources: Archives Unbound

Some, but possibly not all, of the sources included in the above databases can be found in UC Library Search

Catalog of US Government Documents 

Keyword Searchable Online Index to Government Documents Provided by the U.S. Government

Federal Digital System (FDsys) 

GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys) provides public access to Government information submitted by Congress and Federal agencies. It includes the content previously available in GPO Access and more.

Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States 

1995 Print Version available in :
US Docs, Geisel Floor2 West AE 1.108:G 94 (3 vol.)

The index to this guide is very helpful in identifying relevant collections in microfilm and other formats which can be used at the Archives themselves, or, in many cases, at other libraries. UCSD holds some of these and many others can borrowed through inter-library loan. Such holdings include copies of many collections from foreign archives.

US Government Documents Registry 

Online, Keyword-Searchable Index to Government Documents Provided by the Haithi Trust

 Historical Statistics of the United States 

Although this ebook draws on various sources of information, government information, government resources comprise a significant portion of these. 

Excellent starting point to identifying and accessing government resources.

U.S. Census Data

Foreign Census Material


There are many resources provided by UCSD Library and others' to search for Latin American Census Information:

1. Online Family Search Library (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City)

The online collection holds digitized versions of much of the microfilm created by the Church and housed in its physical Library.

To search for and access material for a particular region, create an account and go to the FamilySearch Wiki:

Use the Map or “Search By Place and Topic” box.  This will bring you to a country specific page where you can search for a more specific term or use the facet menu on the right to identify particular kinds of records and collections (church, census, etc.)

For an example of how to use the Family Search Library Wiki to find particular materials, see the instructions on accessing the Mexican Padrones


2. A helpful resource to identify existing information -- which may be digitized on the wiki is the following:

A Guide to Latin American and Caribbean census material : a bibliography and union list by general editor, Carole Travis 

Call Number: Geisel Reference Floor 2 West HA755 .G85 1990

Publication Date: Boston, MA : G.K. Hall, 1990


3. The Library has purchased Datasets for relatively recent censuses in a number of Latin American Countries


  • Mexico 2010, Population Census, GCA-GIS
  • Brazil, 2010, Population Census, GCA-GIS
  • El Salvador, 2007, Population Census, GCA-GIS
  • Guatemala, 2018, Population Census, GCA-GIS
  • Honduras, 2013, Population Census, GCA-GI

All of these can be found in the “Latin America Census Collection” and accessed with AD login on the X: drive in the GIS Lab.

4. Mexican Census Material:

The Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia (Mexico) provides access to much contemporary and historical Mexican census data

To get to Mexico’s first census (the Padrones, gathered between 1752-1865) (as well as additional Census Material) in the Online Family Search Library Wiki

> search for Mexico, which will take you to the Mexico Genealogy Page.

> Clilck on “Census” under record type on the left (please note that you can also search for other formats and collections of vital statistics) OR search for Padrones

(Either brings you to the Mexico Census page)

> Scroll down and click on: Padrones, 1752-1865

Once you are in, scroll down and click on the camera to access different sections of digitized microfilm.

Scroll down – click on the camera icon