Foreign Affairs

Using Department of State Records

Publications and Websites

The Department of State has issued many publications, both as series and as individual documents, that will be of interest to foreign affairs researchers. This section contains information on some of the more important serial publications.

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

The most important publication to consult before beginning research on U.S. foreign policy is the series Foreign Relations of the United States, commonly referred to as FRUS. This series, prepared and issued by the Department of State since 1861, is a compilation of selected documents from the files of the Department of State, the White House, and other agencies. It presents a historical view of American foreign policy and now comprises more than 450 individual volumes. Besides providing the text of important foreign policy documents, FRUS also includes source citations (printed either with the document or as footnotes) that indicate the location of the original documents. In this way, FRUS serves as a guide to the location of additional documents on the same and related subjects not selected for publication.

FRUS is usually available at large university or public libraries, and at U.S. Government Depository Libraries. Volumes are available online at:

During the period 1869 to 1914, the Department of State submitted collections of diplomatic correspondence (called reports from the Secretary of State) to Congress in response to specific requests. Congress, in turn printed those collections as Senate or House Executive Documents, House or Senate Miscellaneous Reports, or House or Senate Reports. Those publications serve as supplemental FRUS volumes. A list of those volumes can be found here.

American Foreign Policy: Current Documents

This series presented, on a near-contemporary basis, public foreign policy messages, addresses, statements, interviews, press briefings and conferences, and congressional testimony. The last published volume covered the year 1991.

The Department published volumes with various titles in this series.

  • In 1950, it published A Decade of American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1941-1949
  • In 1957, it published American Foreign Policy, 1950-1955
  • The Department issued annual volumes entitled American Foreign Policy: Current Documents for the years 1956 through 1967
  • The Department resumed the series in 1983 with the publication of American Foreign Policy : Basic Documents, 1977-1980
  • In 1984 resumed the annual volumes with the publication of American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1981. The last published volume covers 1991.
  • In 1985, the Department published a revised edition of A Decade of American Foreign Policy: Basic Documents, 1941-1949

Other Publications

The Department of State issues other publications that may be of interest. Among them are:

  • Department of State Bulletin (1939 - 1989) The Bulletin was the official record of U.S. foreign policy. It was established to provide Congress, other agencies, and the public information about U.S. foreign policy and the work of the Department of State and the Foreign Service.

  • United States Treaties and Other International Agreements (1950 - )

  • Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States, 1776-1949, compiled by Charles I. Bevans

  • Digest of International Law (1963-1971)

  • Digest of United States Practice in International Law (1973 - )

  • Commercial Relations of the United States, 1855-1902 (Annual volumes published from 1856 to 1903)

  • Biographic Register. Published by the Department of State between 1860 and 1974, this publication includes entries for all employees of the Department, both in headquarters and serving abroad. Entries include basic biographic information as well as details on assignments.

Web Sites

Public information of a more recent vintage is available on the Department of State's website. You can search:

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The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
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