Skip to main content
Purdue University Purdue Logo Purdue Libraries

HIST 395 History of Human Rights: Home

Provides links to historical and contemporary sources on the history of human rights.


U.S. Government Documents

ProQuest Congressional (Database providing access to historic U.S. Government documents from 1789-1969 including some executive branch agency reports, congressional reports on legislation, and the text of congressional debates and recorded votes in the Congressional Recordwhose coverage goes past 1969.)

U.S. Declassified Documents Online (Purdue Users Only!)

Foreign Relations of the United States (Official diplomatic record of U.S. Foreign Policy.  Broken down by presidential administrations and countries (Kennedy to Reagan Administrations.) Covers from Lincoln to Reagan Administrations.

Military Legal Resources (Courtesy:  Library of Congress)

State Dept. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor

State Dept.  Country Human Rights Reports
 HERE for 1978-2009 volumes  Here for 1999-2015

State Dept. International Religious Freedom Reports

State Dept. Trafficking in Persons Reports

Labor Dept. Bureau of International Labor Affairs

U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Independent commission recommending U.S. policies on religious freedom to Congress and the executive branch.)

Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project (Courtesy:  U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom)

U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission (Commission investigating the bilateral implications of trade between the U.S. and China which can include human rights and national security.)

U.S. Overseas Loans & Grants (Green Book). (U.S. Agency for International Development database documenting U.S. foreign assistance with breakdowns by U.S. agency and individual countries from 1946-present. U.S. Foreign Aid Explorer (Provides visual analytics on recent U.S. foreign assistance spending)

Measuring Worth (University of Illinois-Chicago resource documenting inflation and the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar)

Congressional Sources

The U.S. Congress and its committees are responsible for approving new human rights legislation and revising existing legislation in this area, conducting oversight of federal human rights programs, and funding these programs.  Examples of these organizations include

Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe 
(Commission seeking to monitor compliance with the 1976 Helsinki Final Act.  Much of its work focuses on Russia and other countries which were part of the former Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.)

Congressional-Executive Commission on China (Commission monitoring Chinese human rights and rule of law practices)

House Foreign Affairs Committee  Connect HERE and HERE for older hearings and publications by this committee.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Connect HERE for older hearings and publications by this committee.
(This committee is responsible for confirming presidential appointments such as the Secretary of State and Ambassadors to foreign countries.  It, along with the entire Senate, is responsible for ratifying U.S. treaties with foreign countries and international government organizations.)

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress (1774-Present)

Congressional Research Service(This Library of Congress agency provides unbiased reports for members of Congress, congressional committees, and their staff. Courtesy:  University of North Texas Library). See also the Library of Congress (2018-present) 
See this May 20, 2019 CRS report on the State Dept's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices


Subject Specialist