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Researching Policy: Executive Orders

 Executive orders. What are they, exactly, and how are they supposed to be used? With the recent controversy over President Obama’s actions on immigration, researchers may have an interest in finding quality information on the history, legality and use of executive orders.    An executive order is defined as “official documents, numbered consecutively, through which the President of the United States manages the operations of the Federal Government.” Executive orders can be found in full text in the Federal Register, updated daily, and collected annually in Title 3 of The Code of Federal Regulations, a physical copy of which can be found in the University Library under the call number LAW KF 70 A3. The President’s executive orders can also be found on under Presidential Actions from the Briefing Room portal.

There are plenty of places where the text of executive orders can be found, but what about information on the process? Legality? History? The Dewey Library has those covered too.


Dodds, G. G. (2013). Take up your pen: Unilateral presidential directives in American politics. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Dewey Library / KF 5053 D63 2013

Warber, A. L. (2006). Executive orders and the modern presidency: Legislating from the oval office. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Dewey Library / JK 516 W35 2006

Howell, W. G. (2003). Power without persuasion: The politics of direct presidential action. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. University Library / KF 5053 H68 2003

Cooper, P. J. (2002). By order of the president: The use and abuse of executive direct action .Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. Dewey Library / KF 5053 C578 2002

Mayer, K. R. (2001). With the stroke of a pen: Executive orders and presidential power. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Dewey Library / KF 5053 M39 2001


Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (H.W. Wilson)

Worldwide Political Science Abstracts

PAIS International

Public Administration Abstracts

Writing a paper that includes analyzing or referencing executive orders? Check out this APA style guide to learn how to properly cite them.

For more information on the subject contact Richard Irving at or stop by the reference desk.

Blog post created by Alex Hoag

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