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Great Seal Foreign Relations Series

What is the Foreign Relations Series?


 
Book PhotoThe Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series, which is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian, began in 1861 and now comprises more than 350 individual volumes. The volumes published over the last two decades increasingly contain declassified records from all the foreign affairs agencies.

Foreign Relations volumes contain documents from Presidential libraries, Departments of State and Defense, National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Agency for International Development, and other foreign affairs agencies as well as the private papers of individuals involved in formulating U.S. foreign policy.  In general, the editors choose documentation that illuminates policy formulation and major aspects and repercussions of its execution.  Volumes published over the past few years have expanded the scope of the series in two important ways:  first by including documents from a wider range of government agencies, particularly those involved with intelligence activity and covert actions, and second by including transcripts prepared from Presidential tape recordings.

A staff of approximately 20 historians and editors at the Office of the Historian in the Department of State compile and prepare the volumes for publication.  Agencies whose documents are included in a volume participate in a declassification review.  The Office can appeal the results of these reviews in an effort to release as much material as possible. The Office receives guidance from the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, a group of distinguished scholars from outside the U.S. Government.  The Committee meets four times a year to review progress and make recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series.  

Volumes in the series since 1952 are organized chronologically according to Presidential administrations, and geographically and topically within each subseries: 25 volumes cover the Kennedy administration (1961-1963), 34 cover the Johnson administration (1964-1968), and about 40 are scheduled for the Nixon and Ford administrations (1969-1972, 1974-1976). Volumes on the Nixon administration are now being researched, annotated, and prepared for publication.

Volumes may be purchased through the U.S. Government Printing Office (202-512-1800).  Recent volumes are also available on-line. For further information contact the Office of the Historian on 202-663-1123 (voice); 202-663-1289 (fax); or email at history@state.gov.

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Foreign Relations Series  |  Historian's Office  |  Department of State