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Executive orders are official documents, numbered consecutively, through which the President of the United States manages the operations of the Federal Government.” The President signs an Executive order, and it is published in the Federal Register, published daily under the auspices of the Office of the Federal Register (OFR). The text is codified, to become a part of an annual edition of Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

“A Research Guide to the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations” put together by the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, DC, outlines the history of the Federal Register system. The article contains a good description of how to find Presidential Executive orders, and how the orders fit into the larger scheme of government information available to citizens. The article says:

“Title 3 of the CFR contains all the Presidential proclamations and Executive orders issued that year and as such, it is not updated like agency rules. Libraries are wise to retain this Title indefinitely. A one volume Codification of Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders was last issued in 1990 and covered the period 1945-1989. The OFR on its Web site now maintains a searchable electronic version of the 1990 publication with indices and links to executive orders and proclamations, as well as an online disposition table for all executive orders issued from 1937 to the present. Beginning with Clinton Administration the Executive orders on the later site are also available in full text.”

The most recent Executive Orders, including those of Donald Trump, are available at www.federalregister.gov/executive-orders . For example, on January 27, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order 13769  , “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”.

If you are having trouble finding Presidential Executive orders on the government’s websites, the American Presidency Project at University of California, Santa Barbara, has online archives with a searchable database of the Executive orders issued from 1826 by John Quincy Adams to date.  An example of a significant historical Executive order might be Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 7034, “Creating Machinery for the Works Progress Administration” issued on May 6, 1935.

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