150 Years of an Official Diplomatic History Source: The Foreign Relations of the United States Series
“Historians are excavating, sifting, and … helping us know our history more fully so that we can put the past behind us and move forward together.” – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
Did You Know That…
The U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series is the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy. FRUS has been an indispensible resource for anyone seeking to understand the making of U.S. foreign policy and a wide variety of related topics.
The FRUS series covers:
- international relations
- strategic planning
- crisis management
- economic affairs
- intelligence and decision-making
- transnational and cultural developments
As mandated by Congress, the series incorporates an array of sources to "thoroughly, accurately, and reliably" capture how the highest levels of the U.S. Government made decisions on a wide range of historical foreign policy, national security, and global issues.
The Evolution of FRUS
The series began in 1861, grew more scholarly after 1925, and acquired a Congressional mandate in 1991. Over time, the kinds of material included in FRUS volumes changed. The original purpose of the series was to inform Congress of current (rather than historical) diplomatic activities undertaken by the executive branch.
In the early twentieth century, FRUS volumes began to be published years after the events described between its covers. This made the volumes less useful to Congress, but more useful for a growing academic community of international legal experts, historians, and political scientists as well as a wide range of media and public consumers, both inside and outside the United States.
The FRUS Sesquicentennial Initiative
FRUS marks its 150th anniversary in 2011. It is the oldest and most comprehensive series of its type anywhere in the world. To commemorate this history, the Office of the Historian has explored the story behind FRUS to discover how it evolved into the invaluable resource and the leading example of responsible transparency that it is today. Our research sheds light on significant issues, including:
- transformations in the organization and operation of the U.S. Government
- changing conceptions of "transparency" and "national security"
- America’s shifting role in the world
The series captures how the highest levels of the U.S. Government made decisions on a wide range of historical foreign policy, national security and global issues.