Authorized by the United States Congress and signed into law by President James Madison two hundred years ago, Federal Depository Libraries (FDLs) have upheld rights of every citizen of this Republic. Those rights include having free access to records and information from all three branches of our government (Judicial, Legislative, Executive). Regional FDLs also include much information from military/defense, including extensive records from the war between the states.
The twelve hundred-plus FDLs nationwide work with each other to make documents, microfiche, journals, books, and much more available to citizens. To learn the location of FDLs in your state, visit the FDL locator site. I reside in Oklahoma where there are two Regional FDLs and eighteen selective FDLs (smaller, with limited information).
Having access to all these records is essential for those who desire to have the actual documents in hand to read. This is a requisite for those who write non-revisionist nonfiction and historical fiction.
Since moving to Oklahoma, I've spent several years researching at the Regional FDL located in the same building as the Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) in Oklahoma City. This Regional FDL is situated on the second floor of ODL's three-story building, along with the Oklahoma Center For The Book and various literacy offices. The top floor consists of records from the territorial and state government, including archived documents and information from the Governors. On ODL's ground floor, you will find the State Library, ODL administrative offices, and the wonderful, award-winning Oklahoma Collection (the famous glassed-in Oklahoma Room filled with books and documents written about the territory and state).
Oklahomans are fortunate to have this particular Regional FDL -- it was recipient of the National 2009 Federal Depository Library of the Year award. For those of you who are researchers, readers, and writers of non-revisionist history, I urge you to utilize the primary documents, books, and other reference materials available at an FDL in your area. If you live in Oklahoma, I wholeheartedly recommend the Regional FDL located at Oklahoma Department of Libraries, along with its excellent Oklahoma Collection and Territorial/State Archives.
NOTE: This article gives us an excellent source for researching for anything we write: fiction or nonfiction.