Frequently Asked Questions

Documents on the History of U.S. Foreign Relations

I am interested in doing research in Department of State records. Where can I find Department documents?

The Office of the Historian is not the repository for Department records.

The Office does publish selected records in its series Foreign Relations of the United States. For records not published in FRUS, documents can generally be found in one of two locations:

Most Department records prior to the mid-1970s have been retired to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA is located at 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740. You may contact NARA by e-mail at archives2reference@nara.gov, by phone at 301-837-3480, or by fax at 301-837-1919.

Records not yet retired to the National Archives are controlled by the Department of State’s Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS). IPS oversees Freedom of Information Act requests for the Department. Information about IPS is available here.


I am interested in information about the career of a former Department employee. Where can I find information on employee records?

The Office of the Historian is not the repository for Department records.

Records of retired employees are held by the National Archives and Records Administration’s National Personnel Records Center. The National Personnel Records Center is located at 1 Archives Drive, Saint Louis, MO 63138. You may contact the National Personnel Records Center by email at stlarr.archives@nara.gov or by phone at 314-801-0850.


I am interested in historical photographs of the Department of State. Where can I find them?

The Office of the Historian is not the repository for Department records.

The National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland, holds photographic materials retired from federal agencies in its Still Pictures branch. You may contact this branch by email at stillpix@nara.gov or by telephone at 301-837-0561. Videos, from which still pictures can be obtained, are held by the Motion Picture and Sound Branch. You may contact this branch by email at mopix@nara.gov or by telephone at 301-837-3520.


What is Foreign Relations of the United States?

Foreign Relations of the United States is the official documentary record of U.S. foreign policy. More information about the series is available here.

The series celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2011. More information about the history of the series is available here.


I would like to purchase a FRUS volume. How can I do so?

FRUS volumes are sold by the Government Printing Office. You may contact the Government Printing Office here, or by telephone at 202-512-1800.

FRUS volumes are also available in electronic format free of charge. Please click here for more information.


What formats are FRUS volumes available in?

FRUS volumes are available in a variety of formats. While not all volumes are available in all formats, the Office of the Historian is working actively to expand the digitization of its FRUS catalog.

  • Print: many volumes in the series are available in print and sold by the Government Printing Office.
  • Ebook: newer FRUS volumes are available as ebooks, compatible with popular readers such as the Kindle and iPad. Click here for more information on the ebook program.
  • Online: newer FRUS volumes are available in full on our website. Click here for a list of volumes with links to the full text.
  • PDF: newer FRUS volumes are available in Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), which you can download from our website. Click here for a list of volumes with links to the PDFs.

When will the FRUS volume on … be published?

Information about forthcoming volumes is available here.

If you would like to be notified of future releases when they are available, please follow the Office of the Historian’s Twitter feed, @HistoryAtState.

The Office of the Historian also maintains an electronic mailing list for its press releases, which are issued when a new volume is available. To be added to this list, please send a request to history@state.gov.


Do I need to request permission to quote from a FRUS volume?

No. Information in FRUS is in the public domain and can be copied and distributed without permission. For more information on copyright, please click here.