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  1. FDA History

FDA History Research Tools

The pages in the section are designed to familiarize FDA staff, other government employees, historians, the press, regulated industry, students, and anyone else interested in regulatory history with the various resources on the history of the FDA. Included are both core sources useful for specific inquiries into the agency's past and information for those pursuing extensive historical research on the FDA. The FDA is the oldest federal agency that has as its principal purpose the protection of consumer health; this guide will help those who want to learn more about the evolution of this agency.

The resources available for the study of this subject are extensive, and here we can indicate only some of the more basic places to begin. The majority of the published secondary sources should be easily obtainable at most university libraries, but many of the published primary sources would more likely be found in law libraries, general university libraries, or other facilities designated as government document depository libraries. If uncertain, check with a reference librarian. This guide also offers suggestions of useful unpublished primary sources, as well as digital primary sources and select food and drug laws.  We recommend you begin by reviewing this brief background on major institutional and legal changes that impacted the FDA's regulatory authorities.

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