The New WhiteHouse.gov

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Since 1994, every President of the United States has had a website located at WhiteHouse.gov providing information and resources for citizens.  On Friday, January 20, 2017, President Trump’s new White House website was launched.  Though still under development, the site contains preliminary information about the new administration’s policies in a few areas.  It appears that, for the moment, the new administration has retained former President Obama’s We the People site, where citizens can petition the White House and receive responses, if they gather enough signatures.

Luckily, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has archived the WhiteHouse.gov websites of former presidents:  Clinton, Bush, and Obama.  At these sites, you can find information about those administrations along with the text of many Executive Branch documents, including Executive Orders and press releases.  For example, you can read transcripts of speeches and remarks given by former President Obama and former Vice President Biden, proclamations issued by former President Bush, or radio addresses given by former President Clinton.  NARA has also archived additional websites and social media from former President Obama’s administration.

Despite these archived websites, some people remain apprehensive that information and data made available under the Obama administration may be removed by the Trump administration, particularly since NARA does not archive the websites of executive agencies, which may also change with the new administration.  Concerns about the availability of data regarding climate change, for example, has prompted at least one group of “hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians” to organize in an attempt to download and archive webpages and data sets from the current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) websites.

The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is also a good source to find previous versions of agency websites.  The Department of Labor’s LGBT Resources page, for example, is no longer available from the Department’s website and can only be seen through the Internet Archive.  The End of Term Web Archive project, through which the Internet Archive and partner institutions, including the Library of Congress, attempt to preserve the entire web presence of the outgoing federal administration, will soon contain as many webpages as possible.

Whatever your feelings about President Trump, it is important to know how to find information about both the incoming and outgoing administrations.  For more assistance, ask a reference librarian!

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Tanya Johnson
Reference Librarian,University of Connecticut School of Law