Step 8. Official Documents of the New York State Government

Contents: General Comments | Governor's Office | State Agencies | Legislature | Judiciary


A. General Comments.

Since its establishment in 1818 the State Library has been a repository for the official publications of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, commissions, public authorities, and other agencies of the State government.

  • Availability.
    Many New York State documents may be used at the State Library or borrowed from here. Request such material through your library. New York State government employees, residents of New York State, licensed physicians who are residents of this state, local historians in New York State, retired New York State government employees and duly admitted attorneys who are residents of this State can be issued a borrower's card. Some public and academic libraries are designated as limited depositories for State documents.
  • Finding aids.
    • Butch, Dorothy. New York State Documents: an Introductory Manual (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1987). R, LIB 132-4 NEWYS 87-02992.
  • Online catalog.
    All the State documents in the Library's collection are cataloged by corporate and personal author, title, and subject. Search these documents on the Library's online catalog, Excelsior, at our web site. These entries are also on OCLC, the national online union catalog.
  • Printed indexes by time period.
    • 1789-1904. Adelaide R. Hasse, Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1907). Volume 31, New York. R, 016.3 qH35, v.31.  Also available online through the Library's online catalog.
    • 1905-1946. A gap in printed indexes. See Butch, pp.5-6.
    • 1947-1973. Checklist of Official Publications of the State of New York (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1947- ). Cumulations: 1947-1962; 1962-1967; 1968-1973. Author index: 1947-1969. Serials: 1947-1969. R, LIB 132-3 CHEOP 79-390.  Also available online on the Library's website (annual cumulation 1989-present, monthly issues 1994-2007).
    • 1973-1991. Dictionary Catalog of Official Publications of the State of New York (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1973-1991). R, LIB 132-3 DICCO 77-54091. Includes in a single listing corporate authors, personal authors, titles, subjects.

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B. Governor's Office.

  1. Governor Spitzer.
    • The web site, Office of the Governor, has the Governor's important public papers in full text. Some documents on this web site:
      • Executive Budget.
      • State of the State address, speeches, briefing papers in "Key Documents."
      • Press releases in "Press Releases."
    • Bill jackets. Call the Office of the Counsel to the Governor, (518) 474-7182.
    • Approval and veto messages for bills are printed in The Legislative Digest.
  2. Previous Governors.
    • This Library has some public papers of Governor Pataki in its collection. Search variously by corporate author, i.e., name of commission or task force, personal author of the report, title, keywords in title, or subject of report. Examples:
      • State of New York Executive Budget. D, GOV 075.0-3 EXEBU 76-59709.
      • Message to the Legislature. D, GOV 075.0-3 MESLE 76-59892.
      • "Executive Orders" in Title 9A, Official Compilation of Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York. RT, LAW 671-4 OFFCC 78-71087.
    • The official papers of governors have been published in yearly compilations. Thus the papers of Governor Cuomo are in Public Papers of Governor Mario M. Cuomo, D, GOV 075.0-4 PUBPA 1983 88-4571.
    • Reports of a governor's commissions, task forces, etc., can be searched in the Library's online catalog.
    • The New York State Archives and Records Administration has collections of papers from several governors, including Smith, Roosevelt, Dewey, and Rockefeller. See Guide to Records in the New York State Archives (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1993), R, ARC 952-4 GUIRN 93-14436 and Guide to Records of the Governor's Office in the New York State Archives (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1995), R, ARC 952-4 GUIRG 97-7141.
    • Indexes: Annotated List and Indexes of Reports of New York State Governors' Committees and Task Forces, 1925-1985 (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 1986). Compiled by Robert Allan Carter. D, LIB 460-4 ANNLI 86-11690.

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C. State Agencies.

State agencies present reports, sometimes in the form of annual reports, to the Legislature, in which they may discuss proposed legislation, or comment on exisitng laws. Agencies often prepare bills they want introduced. They may oppose a specific bill, or criticize a federal mandate.

State agencies usually are advised by legal counsels. Their counsels issue opinions on the law, and may comment on proposed legislation. These opinions are recognized as primary sources for legislative history by their rendering of legal interpretation of a law.

Web-site. Current publications, such as annual reports, are often listed on State agencies' web-sites. State agencies' home pages can be reached from theNYS Library's NYS Government Information page.

State Library online catalog. State agency reports in the Library's collection can be searched in its catalog.

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D. Legislature.

Standing committees and sub-committees of the Legislature occasionally issue reports on specific topics. These reports are difficult to locate because there are few finding aids.

Joint legislative committees and temporary commissions issue annual reports, usually held by this library. Their additional reports may be published separately. Also these reports are included in the following document series.

  • Document Series.
    • 1789-1904. See Adelaide R. Hasse, Index of Economic Material in Documents of the States of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1907). Volume 31, New York. R,016.3 qH35, v.31.  Also available online through the Library's online catalog.
    • 1831-1918. Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York (Albany: J.B. Lyon, 1831- 1918). D, LEG 481.2- 3 DOCAS 1059138.
    • 1831-1918. Documents of the Senate of the State of New York (Albany: J.B. Lyon, 1831- 1918). D, LEG 795.8-3 DOCSS 87-95.

      Indexes: Annotated Lists and Indexes of the New York State Assembly and Senate Document Series, 1831- 1918 (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 3 vols., 1992). Compiled by Robert Allan Carter. Volume I, Part 1- Assembly Separate Documents. Volume II, Part 2- Senate Separate Documents. Volume III, Parts 3- 11, Indexes, Minor and Annual Reports. R, LIB 460-4 ANNLI 86-11287.

    • 1919- 1976. Legislative Documents (Albany, 1919-1976). D, LEG 011.9-3 LEGDO 78-766. 

      Indexes. Annotated List and Indexes of the New York State Legislative Document Series, 1919- 1976 (Albany: The University of the State of New York, 7 vols., 1986). Compiled by Robert Allan Carter. Volume I, Reports of Temporary Commissions, Joint Legislative Committees, Governor's Messages, etc., 1919-1935. Volume II, 1936-1948. Volume III, 1949-1960. Volume IV, 1961-1976. Volume V, Subject Index. Volume VI, Index by Key Word/ Index by Chairpersons. Volume VII, Annual Reports of Permanent State Agencies, the Legislature and the Courts, and Annual Message of the Governor/ Annual Reports of Public Authorities, Semi-Official State Agencies, State and Private Institutions, Schools and Private Organizations. R, LIB 460-4 ANNLI 86-11287.

      Note: These indexes by Carter include the material in Cumulative Index to Joint Legislative Committees and Selected Temporary State Commissions and Alphabetical List of Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Thereof, 1900-1950 (Albany: The University of the State of New York, rev. ed., 1966). Prepared by William S. King, Secretary of the Senate. Bound with 1951-1965 Supplement . R, LEG 795.8-4 CUMIJ 1302385.

    • 1976-current. The Legislative Documents series was discontinued in 1976. Search these documents as separate entries in the Library's online catalog.
  • Public Hearings.

    See Step 9. Legislative Hearings and Debates.

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E. Judiciary.

The State judiciary and members of the legal profession have been able to recommend changes in State laws and court procedures by participating in two advisory bodies: the Judicial Conference and the Law Revision Commission (abolished 1995).

  • Judicial Conference (1934- present). The Conference was established in 1934 as the Judicial Council for the purpose of surveying current practice in the administration of the State's courts, compiling statistics, and suggesting legislation. Members include the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and judges from the Appellate Divisions. In 1955 it was reorganized and renamed the Judicial Conference. In later years, in addition to general legislation, it has proposed specific recommendations concerning civil practice laws and rules, criminal law and procedure, and the Family Court.
    • Finding aids.
      • Butch, New York State Documents. op. cit.
    • Reports.
      • 1934-1954. New York (State) Judicial Council. Annual Report of the Judicial Council of the State of New York (Albany: J. B. Lyon/ Williams Press, 1935-1955). D, JUD 770-1 76-59233.
      • 1955-1962. New York (State) Judicial Conference. Annual Report of the Judicial Conference of the State of New York (New York: Herald Square Press/Albany: 1955-1962). D, JUD 320-1 846363.
      • 1963-1977. New York (State) Administrative Board of the Judicial Conference. Report of the Administrative Board of the Judicial Conference of the State of New York (Albany: 1962/63-1977). D, JUD 410-1 77-51144.
      • 1978-2005. New York (State) Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts. Annual Report of the Chief Administrator of Courts (Albany: 1978-2005). D, COU 010-1 83-15.

      These Annual Reports up to 1976 are included in the Legislative Documents series. Reports included in the Annual Reports and also Judicial Memoranda are published in McKinney's Session Laws of New York (annual), files at LAW/NY. Reports are also published in New York Consolidated Laws Service (annual), at LAW/NY.

  • Law Revision Commission (1934-1995). Established in 1934 for the purpose, among other things, to "examine the common law and statutes of the state and current judicial decisions for the purpose of discovering defects and anachronisms in the law and recommending needed reforms." Members included faculty of law schools and attorneys. Abolished in 1995.
    • Finding aids.
      • Butch, New York State Documents. op. cit.
    • Reports.
      • New York (State). Law Revision Commission, Report of the Law Revision Commission (Albany: J.B. Lyon/ Albany:, 1935-1994). D, LAW 395-1 77-51360. The 1994 report is also available online.
    • Indexes.
      • 1935-1951. Cumulative Index to the Reports, Recommendations and Studies of the Law Revision Commission for 1935-1951 with Cumulative Table of Cases and Statutory References (Albany: n.d.). Files with the Report of the Law Revision Commission.
      • 1952-1977. Cumulative Topical Index, 1952-1977 (Albany: n.d.). Files with Report of the Law Revision Commission.
Last Updated: February 3, 2014