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“No More Secrets” Workshop Primary Sources for the Study of US Foreign Policy. ‘We Now Know’?: The Limitations of Primary Sources. Newspapers. Using newspaper sources Reporters and their sources Contemporary vs restrospective analysis

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“No More Secrets” WorkshopPrimary Sources for the Study of US Foreign Policy

‘We Now Know’?: The Limitations of Primary Sources

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  • Using newspaper sources

  • Reporters and their sources

  • Contemporary vs restrospective analysis

  • The interlinked nature of contemporaneous stories and issues

  • Transnational possibilities

  • Chatham House Press Library Collection (over 5 m. cuttings, 1939-71)

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Congressional Sources

  • Congressional Record

  • Congressional Hearings Digital Collection, 1824-1979

  • Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, at:


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Presidential Records

  • Boston Spa has MF papers of 23 American presidents, including McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, and Coolidge.

  • Public Papers of the Presidents are now all on-line, at University of Michigan website:


  • Presidential recordings project at the Miller Center, University of Virginia, at:


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State Department Documents

  • State Department Documents; Foreign Relations of the United States series, online from Kennedy years (up to current Nixon era volumes) at


  • Previous volumes (1861-1960) are now all also online at University of Wisconsin website:


  • Also worth checking State Department FOIA electronic reading room:

  • (including, for example, Kissinger telephone transcripts, and documents on US policy toward Chile and El Salvador).

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Military Sources

  • Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on microfilm: 130 reels. Minutes and memoranda of meetings, reports, surveys, and records of conferences.

  • Divided into chronological series: 1942-45; 1946-53; 1954-60, and then also geographically and by subject area: e.g. Europe, Pacific and Far East, the Soviet Union, Strategic Issues, the Middle East, etc.

  • Can be used in conjunction with the multi-volume History of the JCS held by the BL.

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Declassified Documents Reference System

  • Established in 1975, and first issued on microfiche quarterly with index. Compendium of releases made by the presidential libraries system, organized via subject headings.

  • DDRS now an on-line subscription resource: very easy to use.

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Digital National Security Archive

  • National Security Archive a non-profit organization working out of George Washington University dedicated to pursuing freedom of information agenda.

  • Maintains excellent website with several electronic briefing books:


  • DNSA has over twenty collections available to on-line subscribers, covering such topics as US policy toward Iraq, Iran, China, Afghanistan, Cuba, Vietnam, Japan, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and South Africa. Also covers themes such as terrorism, intelligence, and nuclear history since 1945.