Monday, May 4, 2015

Digital Resource: Foreign Relations of the United States

In 2009 the Office of the Historian embarked on a multi-year program to digitize the entire Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series and post these for public access at history.state.gov. This series, the official documentary record of U.S. foreign policy, dates back to 1861 and consists of over 500 volumes and hundreds of thousands of annotated primary sources from the National Archives, presidential libraries, and agency records. To date, the digitization initiative has resulted in the publication of nearly 250 volumes – or half of the entire back catalog – of the Foreign Relations series. Until this spring, the volumes were released silently, being added to the website as they were completed. These volumes are also available as e-books without charge from the FRUS website.
     The most recent update includes twenty volumes covering 1948-1951, providing insight into the early Cold War years, including the construction of the national security state. Future releases will be announced as volumes are completed; a section of the website details the status of the series digitization project.
       Many users will be aware that a major portion of FRUS has been available on-line as page images for some years via the University of Wisconsin Madison Digital Collections Center. For the Office of the Historian project, the Madison Center has provided the scanned images of these volumes, which the Office converted into high-quality text. When one accesses a page on the State Department FRUS website, one sees it as a highly readable and accurate webpage; a link to an image of the page is also provided.
        For more information about the plans and progress of the Office of the Historian's FRUS digitization, please see the official announcement on the HistoryAtState blog.