The Office of the Historian is staffed by professional historians who are experts in the history of U.S. foreign policy and the Department of State and possess unparalleled research experience in classified and unclassified government records. The Office’s historians work closely with other federal government history offices, the academic historical community, and specialists across the globe. The Office is directed by Dr. Stephen Randolph, The Historian of the U.S. Department of State.
The Office of the Historian is responsible, under law, for the preparation and publication of the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy in the Foreign Relations of the United States series.
In addition, the Office prepares policy-supportive historical studies for Department principals and other agencies. These studies provide essential background information, evaluate how and why policies evolved, identify precedents, and derive lessons learned. Department officers rely on institutional memory, collective wisdom, and personal experience to make decisions; rigorous historical analysis can sharpen, focus, and inform their choices. The Office of the Historian conducts an array of initiatives, ranging from briefing memos to multi-year research projects.
The Office of the Historian also promotes the declassification of documents to ensure a complete and accurate understanding of the past.
The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions. The series began in 1861 and now comprises more than 480 individual volumes.
Foreign Relations volumes contain documents from the 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 implementing U.S. foreign policy.
Learn more about the series and view the collection at our Historical Documents page.
The Office’s public outreach activities include hosting scholarly conferences on key issues in the history of U.S. foreign policy, answering historical research questions, consulting with scholars, educators, and students, and working with high school teachers across the country to provide high-quality materials for classroom use.
The Office maintains a public website at history.state.gov, which provides in-depth information to the public on the history of U.S. foreign policy. In addition to a full text archive of the Foreign Relations series, the website includes valuable encyclopedic content on the history of U.S. relations with states around the world, a database of the Department’s principal officers and chiefs of mission, and special tools and resources for students and teachers.
In keeping with the Open Government Directive’s principle of transparency, participation, and collaboration as the cornerstone of an open government, the Office of the Historian has begun preparing many of its rich historical publications in a raw data format that can be accessed through data.gov. Please visit our Open Government page to learn more about these resources.