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Sources Relating to Foreign Relations of the United States: Basic sources

Presidential Documents

State Department Publications

U.S. Department of State
Includes or continues Dispatches Magazine, Country Human Rights Reports, Travel Advisories, etc. The State Department website is archived at the end of each US Presidential term. Archived versions of the website are:


Department of State Bulletin, 1939-1989.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: JX 232 A33], 1939-1983,1985-1989.
"The monthly record of the United States Foreign Policy" includes the same array of documents as does the current documents annuals. It was preceeded by Press Releases of the Department of State, 1929-1939 [Van Pelt Library Stacks: 327.73 Un31.4]. Continued by the Dispatch.
Online via HeinOnline

U.S. Department of State Dispatch, 1990-1999. Weekly. Washington, DC., U.S. Dept. of State. Continues: Department of State Bulletin.
[Van Pelt Library: JX 232 A332], 1990-1999.
Online via HeinOnline

State Department Documents and Publications, 1990-present.
Online via Nexis Uni, in its Government Publications & Documents source.
To filter for State Department documents, use this Search Within string : section(state)

Foreign Policy Bulletin; the Documentary Record of United States Foreign Policy. Cambridge, MA., Kluwer Law International, 1990- . Bimonthly.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: JX 1417 F6726]
"A private publication, using the same format as the discontinued Department of State bulletin...." Includes major addresses, statements, reports, remarks of President, Secretary of State, Administration officials in other foreign affairs agencies; excerpts from Congressional debates; statements of foreign officials; relevant texts and reports from international organizations; summaries and listings of treaties, with source references. Issue and annual indexes. Indexed in PAIS.
Online via Cambridge University Press, 1990-2012.

U.S. Diplomatic Post Records, 1914-1945
The State Department Diplomatic Post Records consist of correspondence and reports from American diplomats stationed around the world. Diplomatic post records are those kept at the embassies or legations rather than those kept in Washington. Diplomatic post records contain the incoming messages from Washington, retained copies of outgoing dispatches, locally gathered information, and background material on decision making. The following countries or cities are represented in this module: Japan; Cuba; El Salvador; Honduras; Nicaragua; Iran; Iraq; Beirut; Jerusalem; Aden; Lebanon; Russia and the Soviet Union.

Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files, 1960-1969
The U.S. State Department Central Files are the definitive source of American diplomatic reporting on political, military, social, and economic developments throughout the world in the twentieth century. Surpassing the scope of the State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, the Central Files provide extensive coverage of all political, military, social, and economic matters relating to a particular country and/or world event.

Central Foreign Policy Files, 7/1/1973-12/31/1979 / U.S State Department
National Archives Access to Archival Databases (AAD) dataset. State Department correspondence, containing electronic telegrams and indexing for microfilmed correspondence relating to all aspects of American bilateral and multilateral foreign relations as well as routine activities of State Department and Foreign Service posts. This database provides fulltext for "D-Reel" digital telegrams and indexing for "P-Reel" paper telegrams (preserved on microfilm).
HINT! This dataset is indexed for names and subjects using US State Department TAGS - Traffic Analysis Geography & Subject - terms, a classification system developed for US State Department Central Files in the early 1970s. A list of TAGS is provided by the Public Library of Diplomacy.

U.S. Military Intelligence Reports, 1911-1944
U.S. Military Intelligence Reports offer comprehensive documentation of developments and events in the key nations of the world during the period from World War I to the final campaigns of World War II. After World War I, the U.S. military developed a sophisticated intelligence gathering capability. Concerned with much more than strictly military intelligence, American military attaches and their staffs reported on a wide range of topics, including the internal politics, social and economic conditions, and foreign affairs of the countries in which they were stationed. This module contains the U.S. Military Intelligence reports for China, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Soviet Union, Biweekly Intelligence Summaries, and Combat Estimates.

National Security Council Documents, Intelligence, and National Security Files

Documents of the National Security Council, Basic Set and Supplements, 1947-1977
Chaired by the president, the NSC consists of statutory members (the vice president and the secretaries of state and defense), statutory advisers (the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of Central Intelligence), the assistant to the president for National Security Affairs, and professional staff members who are on temporary assignment from the armed forces, the CIA, and elsewhere in the government or who have been recruited from universities and think tanks. The statutory function of the NSC is to advise the president with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security.

National Security Files
The working files of John F. Kennedy's, Lyndon B. Johnson's, Richard Nixon's and Gerald Ford's special assistants for national security affairs: including memos, cables, intelligence reports, correspondence, and special studies, having to do with foreign affairs and national security.

Military Intelligence Reports, 1911-1944
After World War I, the U.S. military developed a sophisticated intelligence gathering capability. Concerned with much more than strictly military intelligence, American military attaches and their staffs reported on a wide range of topics, including the internal politics, social and economic conditions, and foreign affairs of the countries in which they were stationed.

U.S. Diplomatic Post Records
reproduces records kept at U.S. diplomatic posts in foreign countries, including instructions and despatches between the State Department and the post, correspondence with the host country’s government, and communications with subordinate posts. These records are now held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration as part of NARA Record Group 84. Preserved diplomatic post records generally fall into these categories:

  • Protection of Interests
  • Claims
  • International Congresses and Conferences
  • Commerce and Commercial Relations / Trade relations
  • Relations of States
  • Internal Affairs of States (omitting visa applications)

Records of the U.S. Information Agency, 1960-1982
This collection brings together a large number of reports that the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) prepared on topics relevant to the cold war, U.S. foreign policy and international relations, and American politics and culture. These reports were intended to inform the president, secretary of state, and other foreign policy leaders on international events and foreign public opinion of the United States.

The collection consists primarily of a number of recurring document types, as well as many special reports. The recurring documents primarily fall into four main categories: assessments of print and broadcast media in Communist, Free World, and developing areas; analyses of Communist propaganda activities; excerpts of presidential speeches and statements; and world reactions to major events. The content of the recurring document types and the special reports are described below.

Declassified Documents

The database includes more than 63,000 of the most important declassified documents regarding critical U.S. policy decisions. There are over 29 complete collections, each offering specialized insights. Integrated, they allow you to explore policy across several different areas at once.
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Books provide online access to critical declassified records on issues including U.S. national security, foreign policy, diplomatic and military history, intelligence policy, and more. Updated frequently, the Electronic Briefing Books represent just a small sample of the documents in our published and unpublished collections.
Also known as: Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS). Full-text and images of declassified documents issued from 1941 through the 1990s. Documents have been declassified since 1974. Document types include correspondence and memoranda, minutes of cabinet meetings, technical studies, national security policy statements, and intelligence reports.
The WikiLeaks collection of diplomatic cables, 1973-2010. Pay close attention to linked lists of TAGS and other coding resources for efficient searching.
Collection of declassified and previously inaccessible documents, frequently translated, mostly relating to NATO, The Warsaw Pact, and the Cold War.
The Cold War International History Project disseminates new information and perspectives on the history of the Cold War, in particular new findings from previously inaccessible sources on "the other side" -- the former Communist world.
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