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Social Work

Library and other information resources for social work, social policy etc.

Social Policy

Searching Government Sites for Policy History

Search .gov websites

Search .gov websites:

For part of your policy assignment you will need to find many different sources to help you tell the story of how the policy came to be. This page has some hints and useful search boxes. For each section, you should include the keywords for that section in your search. For example, if the policy I am interested in is relating to healthcare, I would search for "healthcare demographics," "healthcare statute,"  "healthcare lawsuit", etc. depending on the type of resource you are looking for.

Demographic Information

use the search box above

If using google, add" to the end of your search. Then, look at the domain that the result comes from. This will be in black above the blue title of the website. 

  • Federal laws: or
  • NYS laws: or
  • Demographic information may be on a government agency's website such as Adding the keyword demographics to your search to help with this!

Text of the Federal or State Statute

use the search box above

A statute is a law that has been passed by a legislative body. A statute is NOT a bill that is currently in committee. You can find the full text by using or and looking for the full text. It will appear in this type of typer writer font.

Legislative Record/History 

use the search box above

The legislative history is a broad term to ask about all the actions that happened to the proposed legislation. This includes things like referring a bill to committee, amending the bill, and voting on the bill. On you will find this information under "Actions." On there will be a dropdown labeled View Actions (#) where # is the number of actions taken. 

Scholarly Article (Peer-Reviewed)

do not use the search box above

Use the search box on the library home page, or the databases listed on the main page of the Social Work Research Guide. You will need to search for the idea that your statute (law) accomplishes. For example, searching S8519 will not result in any useful results. Searching "health care costs" will result in many useful articles. 

Court Decision or Pending Case

do not use the search box above

You are most likely to find this using Google by adding the words "court case" or "lawsuit" with the name of the passed bill (e.g. Affordable Care Act court cases). Be sure the examine the website that lists them to make sure its purpose is appropriate for listing lawsuits. Many times you can find the name of the case through Wikipedia. Then you can search for the history of the court case.

Think Tank Search

A think tank is a research organization that produces reports that give advice and sometimes criticism about policy. The members of think tanks are usually scholars, but not always. Harvard maintains a list of think tanks and provides a custom search that you can use to search the websites of many different think tanks at once.

Search think tank websites

Social Policy sites

The following sites can help you dig deeper into the specifics of a policy.

Legal Databases:

These databases can provide in-depth information on federal and state laws.

Supreme Court Specific Searches

Last Updated: May 28, 2024 11:56 AM