UCB Libraries

Constructing the Panama Canal

HIST 3020: Thinking and Writing in History

Course Guide Contents

Government Primary Resources

Annual Reports, Sanitation Reports, & Surveys


Congressional Documents and Reports

Intelligence and Labor Reports

United States Statutes at Large and laws looked at in class

The Congressional Record and debates looked at in class

Congressional Hearings

Diplomatic Records


Presidential Papers, Canal Census, & Official Handbook of the Canal Zone


Government Digital Collections




Contact Government Information

Special Collections Resources

Contact the Department


Archive Collections: Photographs & Diaries


Special Collections Photographs


Harper's Weekly


Geography and Maps


Government Primary Resources Used in Class

Annual reports, Isthmian Canal Commission

1907-1908, 1910-1914  

Print version: Government Information W 73.1    



Digital version available: Congressional Serial Set   

Sanitation Reports

Annual: 1907-1908, 1910-1913    

Print version: Government Information W 73.6/1:           


Monthly: 1905-1912, 1914

Print version: Government Information W 73.6/5:


Digital version of monthly reports:

Reports of the Department of Sanitation of the Isthmian Canal Commission


Public Health Reports 1904: T 27.6:  PASCAL offsite storage
Digital version: Full-text online through JSTOR


Gorgas, Colonel W.CA Few General Directions With Regard to Destroying Mosquitoes, Particularly the Yellow Fever MosquitoWashington, Government Printing Office, 1904.  58th Congress, 2d sess.  House Doc. 756.  Serial Set 4676

Darling, Samuel T. Studies in Relation to Malaria.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910.  Government Information: W 73.6/2:M 29

Panama Canal Record    

Weekly v. 1-34 1907-1941 
Print version: Government Information W 79.5          
Digital version: University of Florida Panama Canal digital collection

Significant Panama Canal Surveys

Report on interoceanic canals and railroads between Atlantic and Pacific oceans   1867   

Print version: N 14.2:In 8  McGov 

Senate Exec. Doc. 62, 39th Cong., 1st sess. Serial Set 1238 


Shufeldt, Captain Robert W.  Reports of explorations and surveys to ascertain the practicability of a ship-canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by was of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.  1872.

Senate. Exec. Doc. 6,  42d Cong., 2d sess. Serial Set 1480    


Selfridge, Commander Thomas Oliver.  Reports of explorations and surveys to ascertain the practicability of a ship-canal between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by the way of the Isthmus of Darien.  1874    

Print version: N 1.8:Se 4 McGov  

House misc. doc. no. 113, 42d Cong., 3d sess. Serial Set 1575 


Lull. Edward.  Reports of explorations and surveys for the location of interoceanic ship-canals through the Isthmus of Panama and by the Valley of the River Napipi, by U.S. Naval Expeditions,  1875. 

Sen. Exec. Doc. 71, 45th Cong., 3d session.  1879. Serial Set 1829


Lull, Edward. Reports of Explorations and surveys for the location of a ship-canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through Nicaragua, 1872-1873. 

Sen. Exec. Doc. 57, 43d Cong., 1st sess. Serial Set 1582

Digital version: U.S. Congressional Serial Set CU

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Congressional documents and reports (U.S. Congressional Serial Set)

Remember: Annual reports and surveys are published in the Serial Set as Congressional documents from the mid 19th through early 20th centuries.

Print versions of specific volumes can be requested from PASCAL (off-site storage)
Digital version: U.S. Congressional Serial Set CU 

Intelligence Reports

Rogers, Charles, C.  Intelligence Repoprt of The Panama Canal.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 1889.  50th Congress, 1st sess.  House Misc. Doc. 599.  Serial set 2570.


Rodgers, Lt. R.P. [Progress of the Work in the Construction of a Ship-Canal Across the Isthmus of Panama] 1994. 48th Congress, 1st sess. Senate Ex.Doc. 123.  Serial set 2167


Kimball, Lt. W.W. Kimball.  Special Intelligence Report of the Progress of the Progress of the Work on the Panama Canal during the Year 1885.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 1886.  49tth Congress, 1st sess.  Misc. Doc. 395.  Serial set 2422


Report of the Special commission Appointed to Investigate Conditions of Labor and Housing of Government Employees on the Isthmus of Panama.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 19089.  60th Congress, 2d sess.  Senate Doc. 539.  Serial set 5407.

United States Statutes at Large   All laws passed by Congress and treaties (through 1949) 

Print version: GS 4.111  Government Reference                            
Digital version: U.S Statutes at Large CU

Laws Looked at in Class

An Act to Provide for the Construction of a Canal Connecting the Waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.  (Spooner Act) 323 Stat. 481 (PL 1`83), 1902.

Congressional Record: Senate and House floor debates on legislation and proceedings.

Print version: Can be found here
Specific volumes can be requested from PASCAL (off-site storage)
Digital version: Congressional Publications CU 

Debates Looked at in Class

Debates on the Spooner Act:

House:Cong. Rec. v.35, pt.7, pp. 6337-7392. 57th Congress, 1st sess. (1902)


Senate: Cong. Rec. v. 35, pt.8, pp. 7393-7795. 57th Congress, 1st sess. (1902).     

Congressional Hearings 

Print version: Search Chinook by title or keyword for hearings. 

These can be requested from PASCAL (off-site storage) 
Digital version: Congressional Publications CU      


Hearings looked at in class:

Hearings on New Panama Canal Company, The Maritime Company, and the Nicaragua Canal Company.  Hearings before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representations, January 1899.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 1899.  56th Congress, 1st sess.  Senate Doc. 50.  Serial set 3848.  (Hearings on routes)


Hearings before the Senate Committee on Interoceanic Canals on HR 3110.  1902. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1902  Senate Doc. 253, 57th Cong, 1st sess. Serial set 4238


Investigation of Panama Canal Matters. Hearings before the Committee on Interoceanic Canals of the U.S. Senate in the matter of the Senate Resolution adopted January 9, 1906, providing for an investigation of matters relating to the Panama Canal.  GPO, 1906. (Includes labor issues)  4 volumes. Sen Doc. 401, 59th Cong. 2d sess. Seriel set 5097 (v.1), 5098 (v.2), 5099 (v.3), 5100 (v.4) 


Hearings Before the Committee on Interoceanic Canals, United States Senate Held at Ancon, Canal Zone, October 1911. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912. 62d Congress, Senate Doc. 191.  Serial set 6174.


The Panama Canal.  Hearings Before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, April 1912.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912.  62d Congress, 2d sess.  House Doc. 680.  Serial set 6319.


Story of Panama:  Hearings on the Rainey resolution before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.  Government Printing Office, 1913


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Diplomatic Records

Foreign Relations of the United States   

1861- S 1.1: 
Print version can be found here
Digital version: Foreign Relations of the United States 

Diplomatic history of the Panama Canal 1914

          Sen. Doc. 474, 63d Cong, 2d sess. 1914. Serial set 6582

Canal Treaties: Executive Documents Presented to the US Senate together with Proceedings by the Senate thereon Relative to the Panama Canal.  Washington, Government Printing Office, 1914.  63d Congress, 2d sess. Senate Doc. 456.  Serial set 6594.

Background Documents Relating to the Panama Canal Prepared for the Senate foreign Relations Committee.  Washington, Government Prinring Office, 1977.  65th Congress, 1st Sess.  Committee Print.   Pascal: Y 4. F 76/2:P 19/3. 


Digital version: Congressional Publications CU    


Isthmian Canal Convention. 33 Stat. 2234 (1903). Government Information Reference:  AE 2.111


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Theodore Roosevelt papers

Print sources:

Presidential Address and State Papers of Theodore Roosevelt. New York, F.F. Collier. E660 R77  Norlin stacks


Theodore Roosevelt: letters and speeches. The Library of America, 2004.  E 757 .A4 2004.  Norlin stacks 

Digital source:

American Presidency Project

Willaim Howard Taft Papers

Print sources:

The Collected Works of William Howard Taft.  Athens, Ohio University Press, 2002.  Norlin stacks: E660 .T11 2001 & 2002

Census of the Canal Zone, February 1, 1912   

Print version:  Government Information  W 73.2:C 33
Digital version: Can be found here

Official Handbook of the Panama Canal, 1915. 

Washington, Government Printing Office, 1915. 

Government Information stacks: W 79.2:H 19


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Government Primary Sources: Digital Collections for Panama Canal Research

Congressional Publications CU   

Full-text Congressional materials, including Congressional hearings, Congressional Record (floor debates), Congressional reports and documents from 1980 to present, committee prints, CRS reports, member biographies, committee assignments, voting records, financial data, and regulatory and statutory resources.

U.S. Congressional Serial Set CU  

Digital version of the bound, sequentially numbered volumes of all the Reports, Documents, and Journals (journals end in 1952) of the Senate and House of Representatives.  From the mid-19th through the beginning of the 20th century government agency and department reports were published as Congressional documents and can be found in the Serial Set.  About 300 selected hearings from this time period were published in the Serial Set as well.

U.S Statutes at Large CU 

The Statutes at Large is the official source for the laws and resolutions passed by Congress. Until 1950, all treaties and international agreements ratified by the Senate were also published in the set.  The Statutes at Large are also available at the Library of Congress’ American Memory web site.

Treaties and Acts of Congress Relating to the Panama Canal, 1917

Washington, GPO, 1917.

American Presidency Project   

The American Presidency Project has consolidated, coded, and organized into a single searchable database these materials:  The Messages and Papers of the Presidents: Washington - Taft (1789-1913),  The Public Papers of the Presidents: Hoover to G.W. Bush (1929-2007)& Obama (2009),  The Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents: Carter - G.W. Bush (1977-2009) and The Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents: Obama (2009-2012). 

Foreign Relations of the United States 

FRUS documents the major foreign policy decisions and diplomatic activity of the U.S. Government and contains declassified records from the White House, the Department of State, and other foreign affairs agencies It began in 1861.

Reports of the Department of Sanitation of the Isthmian Canal Commission  

Full-text reports from June 1907- March 1914. 

Tropical Diseases and the Construction of the Panama Canal, 1904–1914
Full-text collection from Harvard University.

Public Health Reports Public Health Reports (PHR) have been published since 1878 and is the official journal of the U.S. Public Health Service.

They are available full-text through JSTOR CU 

University of Florida’s Panama Canal digital collection 

Panama and the Canal is a joint project from the University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries and the Panama Canal Museum.  It includes the full text of the Panama Canal Record and primary sources such as photographs, correspondence and oral histories.

Large collections of digital materials that include government sources:

Internet Archive    

Hathi Trust Digital Library  

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To find articles in newspapers, use the News and Newspapers link from the FIND menu on the Libraries’ homepage. FIND is in the blue bar near the top.  Start with the Historic tab and try Proquest Historical Newspapers. 


The Outlook A weekly magazine published in New York City from 1870-1935.  TR was an associate editor.Available full-text through Google Books.


Contact Government Information

Leanne Walther                                           


Request a research consultation or email the Government Information Library at govpubs@colorado.edu 

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Special Collections Resources

Contacts in the Department of Special Collections: 

For material held in Special Collections:

Susan.guinn-chipman@colorado.edu or spc@colorado.edu


For photographs and other material held in Archives: Jennifer.C.Sanchez@colorado.edu or david.hays@colorado.edu


Original Photographs
Allen, H.A.  Photograph Collection: Enclosure #1. Four panoramic photographs.  February 1, 1910.


Johnson, Arthur C. Diary 14: Washington, D.C., Denver, Wyoming, Panama Canal, Cuba. 1906.

Johnson, Arthur C. Diary 16: Panama Canal, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Denver Political Conventions… 1908.


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Special Collections


Original Photographs


Ira Wolff Collection.  32 Miscellaneous Photographs of Panama Canal Construction and Environs. U.P. 12



Harper’s Weekly Collection


Bocock, John Paul. “Views Along the Panama Canal.” Harper’s Weekly 32, no. 1620-71(June 9, 1888): 410-411.


Carden, Lieut. Godfrey L., C.S.R. “Defending the Panama Canal.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2402-27 (June 6, 1903): 928.


Davis, Richard Harding. “The Isthmus of Panama.” Harper’s Weekly 40, no. 2037-88 (January 11, 1896): 34-35.


Harvey, George (ed.) “Comment.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2444-53 (November 21, 1903): 1848.


Harvey, George (ed.) “Comment.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2444-53 (November 28, 1903): 1888.


Harvey, George (ed.) “Comment.” Harper’s Weekly 49, no. 2532-45 (September 30, 1905): 1400.


Harvey, George (ed.) “Comment.” Harper’s Weekly 49, no. 2546-58 (Devember 2, 1905): 1729.


Harvey, George (ed.) “M. Lesseps and the Monroe Doctrine.” Harper’s Weekly 24, no. 1201-52 (February 28, 1880): 131.


Harvey, George (ed.) “The New Treaty with Panama.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2444-53 (December 5, 1903): 1932.


Harvey, George (ed.) “The Panama Canal.” Harper’s Weekly 32, no. 1620-71 (December 22, 1888): 978.


Harvey, George (ed.) “The Panama Canal Treaty.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2402-27 (February 7, 1903): 227.


Harvey, George (ed.) “The Panama Canal Treaty Ratified.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2402-27 (March 28, 1903): 519.


Harvey, George (ed.) “The Special Session and the Canal.” Harper’s Weekly 47, no. 2402-27 (March 21, 1903): 467.

Harvey, George (ed.) “The Troubles at the Isthmus.” Harper’s Weekly 29, no. 1463-1514 (April 11, 1985): 231.


Lewis, Henry Harrison. “The Canal Will Be Built.” Harper’s Weekly 49, no. 2546-58(December 9, 1905): 1769-75.


Lewis, Henry Harrison. “The Man Behind the Panama Canal.” Harper’s Weekly 49, no. 2532-45 (July 22, 1905): 1932.


Nelson,Wolfred. “The Panama Canal.” Harper’s Weekly 29, no. 1463-1514 (July 4, 1885): 430. [see illustration, Graham Charles. “The Panama Canal- The Great Culebra Cut.”: 428-29.]


Speed, Jno. Gilmer. “The Panama Canal Crisis in France.” Harper’s Weekly 36, no. 1201-52(December 10, 1892): 1186.

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Geography and Maps

Abbot, Willis J.  Panama and the Canal: In Picture and Prose. London: W.F. Wright, 1913.  SCUBA  F 1564  A13  1913  c.2

Beebe, William.  Exploring with Beebe. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1932.   

SCUBA  QL 50  B43  1932.


Carey, H.C.  A Complete Historical, Chronological, and Geographical American Atlas. Philadelphia: Chestnut St., 1823 OS2  G1101 S1 L45.


Eleta, Sandra.  Portobelo. Buenos Aries: La Azotea, 1991. DHT 9465.

Humboldt, Alexander de.  Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown, 1822. D.K. BAILEY  F  1211  H923  v.1, 4.

Keller, Ulrich.  The Building of the Panama Canal:London in Historic Photographs. New York: Dover Publications, 1983. DHT 5133.

Lloyd, John Augustus.  “Account of the Levelings Carried Across the Isthmus of Panama…”  Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 120 (1830): 59-68. 

QL41 L8 v. 120 1830  [PASCAL].

Mercator, Gerhard. Gerardi Mercatoris atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura. PLUME OS G1007 .A7 1630.  

Murillo Velarde, Pedro. Geographia Historica: Libro de la America. Madrid.  D21.5  M8  t.9.


Panama Pacific Line Tours. Los Angeles, 1937. SCUBA  G550  P36  1937.


Otis, F.N.  Isthmus of Panama and its Commercial Connexions. New York: Harper, 1867.   

F1563  O89  1867.


Russell, J.  A General Map of South America. 1794.  Map Case 2   G5200 G5  1794.


Trollope, Anthony.  The West Indies and the Spanish Man. London: Chapman & Hall, 1859. 

F1611  T84  1859

Verrill, A. Hayatt.  Panama Past & Present. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1921. 

SCUBA  F1564  V55  1921.

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