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Collection Area


General Purpose

The collection supports the instructional and research needs of undergraduates and faculty in political science and other areas of government. This includes the study of political bodies and institutions as well as government's impact on individuals, societies, and nations. The areas of interest at Dartmouth are broadly defined as United States politics and government, comparative politics, international relations, and law, and political theory.


Instruction in law and political science has a long history at Dartmouth. John Wheelock, member of the first graduating class, the founder's son and the second president of the college, was appointed to teach Natural and Political Law in 1796. The Department, originally titled the Department of Law and Political Science, focused its efforts on constitutional, international and municipal law until early in the twentieth century.

In 1919 the department, then called Political Science, consisted of three professors and an assistant professor. A departmental committee created in that year suggested that "the aim of the Department of Political Science is primarily to give training for citizenship, but that the demands of men desiring to enter the consular service or the professions of law and teaching are to be given due consideration." In 1944, as the College responded to the coming demands of the postwar era, the Department voted to change its name to the Department of Government.

The 1940's and 1950's saw a rapid growth in the Department's commitment to comparative government and international affairs, with a strong focus on public policy and foreign area studies. At the urging of the College in the early 1960's the department developed a set of graduate offerings which would differentiate a Dartmouth program from larger graduate departments elsewhere. However, the demand for graduate education diminished by 1970 and these plans were abandoned.

The emphasis on American, comparative, and international politics has remained fairly constant over the past several decades. Today the Government department consists of 28 faculty members and is consistently at or near the top in terms of declared undergraduate majors.

Dartmouth College Program

Graduate degrees are not offered in government, however, the collection supports a broad range of faculty interests and undergraduate instruction up to the Honors level. Department efforts in recent years to attract and retain research level faculty have resulted in a need for greater library support for faculty and students.

Although the Library concentrates on acquiring material that meets the needs of the Government Department, the collection is also expected to support the political interests and aspects of other subjects or programs on campus, i.e. the several "studies" programs and the Dickey Center and its affiliated institutes. These related information needs and the demands of the general library readership for material on current affairs make our resources particularly diverse and inclusive.

General Subject Boundaries

Government holdings are primarily in the Library of Congress classification HX, and J through JX and the bibliography class Z 7165. Early holdings are primarily in the Dewey classification 320.

The distinction between govrnment and history, or government and law is not always easy to discern. Consequently LC places some government material in the D, E, and F classes (History), and in K (Law). There is also a connection to a variety of topics throughout the Economics classifications - HA through HJ, and a close relationship with the materials recorded in the Intergovernmental Organization and National Government Documents policy. Earlier holdings in Dewey may also be found in 330 (political economy), 340 (law), and 350 (administration).

Other than a small collection of public administration materials located at Feldberg the government collection is in Baker Library.


English is the primary language of the collection. Secondary works in Western European languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian), Russian, and Chinese are purchased selectively. Original works and primary sources in other languages are also purchased selectively.

Geographic Areas

Political material about all areas of the world is represented in the collection. The greatest emphasis is on the United States; there is also strong interest in Canada, Europe, Russia, Africa, Latin America, and Asia; less interest in Australia and Oceania.

Types Of Material Collected

Monographs, periodicals, newspapers, indexes and abstracts, bibliographies, statistical sources, and other standard reference works are routinely collected. Technical reports and dissertations are collected selectively. The collection relies heavily on the U.S. government and international documents collections, as well as the publications of various national and international groups. Dartmouth is a depository for New Hampshire state publications, and a selective depository for U.S. and Canadian documents. The Library also subscribes to online services (DIALOG, Lexis-Nexis) that support this area.

Format Of Materials Collected

Materials are acquired in microform as well as hard copy. Online resources are also utilized on a growing scale. Resources such as Lexis-Nexis, the World News Connection (formerly the Foreign Broadcast Information Service), the Economist Intelligence Unit's "Country Report" series, official and unofficial WWW sites, and the literally hundreds of electronic titles and databases produced by the U.S. government are transforming collection development in this subject area.

Other Resources Available

We rely on the Vermont Department of Libraries (State Library) and the Vermont Law School for legal periodicals and Vermont state documents not available at Dartmouth. We may rely on the Regional Federal Depository at the University of Maine, Orono or the depository at the University of New Hampshire to supplement our federal documents holdings. We may rely on other RLG libraries for research collections where normal demand does not justify our purchasing the material. There are no other resources on a local or regional level that affect collection activity.

Revision History

November 1992
April 1998

LC Class



Miles Yoshimura

Last Updated: 8/5/16