Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies: A Bibliographic Listing by Louis W. Bookheim is a unique resource containing the most current and comprehensive listing of publications created by presidential advisory bodies. For at least the past one hundred and thirty years or so, U.S. presidents have created such advisory groups—also called committees, commissions, boards, blue ribbon panels, or task forces—to advise them on particular problems or issues. Typically, the group's task is to analyze a situation, give an explanation as to the cause of the problem, and make recommendations for a change.
Presidential commissions have been established to explain catastrophes such as the Gulf oil spill, Challenger Space Shuttle accident, Pearl Harbor, the AIDS epidemic, and more. There have been many famous advisory groups, such as the Warren Commission (to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy), the Kerner Commission (on the riots of 1967), and the Tower Commission (the President's Special Review Board on Iran Contra).
Though started as an index—a resource to allow librarians to locate presidential advisory reports by group name and OCLC location—this collection has evolved into a bibliographic listing of more than 6,300 reports and other documents from the administrations of Andrew Jackson to Donald Trump. The electronic database allows interactive exploration of not only the indexed reports, but also linking to the full text of those reports where possible.
This database is vitally important to researchers interested in United States history, political science, and law, and especially to those interested in:
Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory bodies is indexed by commission/advisory body name, report title, report subject, and presidential administration. In addition, links to the full text of more than 1,700 reports are provided, as well as citations to published government documents and OCLC numbers when applicable. To maintain currency, the online resource is updated at least twice annually as new material is discovered, indexed, and integrated into the database.
In 2018, this database was named to the Reference and User Services Association's (RUSA) annual list of Best Historical Materials. The list recognizes the evaluation and effectiveness of coverage of historical resources in all fields of history and promotes the enhanced availability of historical works and information. The sources are selected by the Historical Materials Committee of the History Section of RUSA, which seeks to improve the usefulness of bibliographies and indexes in the field of history and shared among bibliographers, indexers, publishers, and professional associations.
Louis W. (Bill) Bookheim managed reference and public services for 28 years at California Western School of Law Library. He holds a J.D. from Hofstra and an MLS from St. Johns University. Originally from New York, he has been a resident of California for more than 30 years.
The pioneering works of Thomas R. Wolanin in his Presidential Advisory Commissions Truman to Nixon (1975) and by Steven D. Zink in his Guide to the Presidential Advisory Commissions (1973-84) (1987) were the basis of this resource. The author also cites Gale's Encyclopedia of Governmental Advisory Organizations as an additional influence.