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An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States. The Archive won the 1999 George Polk Award, one of U.S. journalism’s most prestigious prizes, for–in the words of the citation–“piercing the self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in the search for the truth and informing us all.”

The Archive obtains its materials through a variety of methods, including the Freedom of Information act, Mandatory Declassification Review, presidential paper collections, congressional records, and court testimony. Archive staff members systematically track U.S. government agencies and federal records repositories for documents that either have never been released before, or that help to shed light on the decision-making process of the U.S. government and provide the historical context underlying those decisions.

The Archive regularly publishes portions of its collections on microfiche, the World Wide Web, CD-ROM, and in books. The Washington Journalism Review called these publications, collectively totaling more than 500,000 pages, “a state-of-the-art index to history.” The Archive’s World Wide Web site,, has won numerous awards, including USA Today’s “Hot Site” designation.

As a part of its mission to broaden access to the historical record, the Archive is also a leading advocate and user of the Freedom of Information Act. Precedent-setting Archive lawsuits have brought into the public domain new materials on the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iran-Contra Affair, and other issues that have changed the way scholars interpret those events. The Archive spearheaded the groundbreaking legal effort to preserve millions of pages of White House e-mail records that were created during the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.

The Archive’s mission of guaranteeing the public’s right to know extends to other countries outside the United States. The organization is currently involved in efforts to sponsor freedom of information legislation in the nations of Central Europe, Central and South America and elsewhere, and is committed to finding ways to provide technical and other services that will allow archives and libraries overseas to introduce appropriate records management systems into their respective institutions.

The Archive’s $2.5 million yearly budget comes from publication revenues, contributions from individuals and grants from foundations such as the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. As a matter of policy, the Archive seeks no U.S. government funding.

For further information contact Thomas S. Blanton, Executive Director of the National Security Archive.

To use the Archive’s collections, search, visit our reading room at George Washington University’s Gelman Library, or ask your university or public library to subscribe to the Digital National Security Archive published by ProQuest/Chadwyck-Healey.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    March 15, 2011 8:49 pm

    You are performing an important function.

    Meg J. Jacobson

  2. Charles N. Davis permalink
    March 16, 2011 11:28 pm

    Happy Sunshine Week!

    Thought your members might enjoy knowing about my freedom of information
    blog, The Art of Access. It’s an FOI blog updated several times a day, and
    is open to all.

    Feel free to pass along to anyone you think would be interested!

    Charles N. Davis
    Associate Professor
    University of Missouri School of Journalism
    Twitter: daviscn

  3. Chuck McIntyre Jr permalink
    April 22, 2011 6:53 pm

    April 21, 2011
    tags: FOIA, johnson, nuclear, USS Ozbourn, Vietnam
    by William Burr and John Prados

    Regading the isue of Nucs aboard the destryer involved in the incident.
    NUCS in Vietnam

    The ASROC is/was an antisub weapon. One should remember there was a lack of intelligence available about location of Russina submarines during the Vietnam war, as relates to Vietnam area waters.

    One could check to see if the Osburne was assigned a role in aircraft carrier protection, which would involve operations against hostile submarines.
    Thank you for all the work you and al the colleges do.

  4. March 20, 2012 8:55 pm

    Your organization is doing important work. My own experience shows using FOIA is much easier said than done. My son, an American teacher, was murdered in China nearly seven years ago. Several FOIA requests later, along with a pending lawsuit for records, our family is still not getting everything the government has. The information you provide is very helpful, so thanks again!

  5. September 15, 2012 11:05 am

    I love the collection of databases and websites you are collecting here! You are doing a wonderful thing here!

  6. December 17, 2013 9:55 pm

    Well done. Thought your readers might enjoy this new Blog….a work in progress, focused on tying history and culture to current issues in intelligence and security.

    The latest post highlights a document released in July 2012, that captures the implications of a serious media leak in the interwar years:

    Thanks in advance for sharing this blog if you find it of value.

  7. goddevil7 permalink
    December 29, 2013 1:25 pm

    Hello there, owner of this blog and the National Security Archive website. I am just letting you know that I am publishing your information onto my website, Researching Publications. I will give you full credit of the information that I am using for research and sharing purposes only.

  8. May 27, 2014 11:26 am

    Good luck with your work. Dallaire’s Shake Hands With The Devil impressed me indelibly. What a terrible time. Soldiers possessing a conscience suffer a great deal.

  9. john stanton permalink
    August 1, 2014 1:31 pm

    For Laura Harper…Here is a piece on UANI…donors can be found online…I cited Mondoweiss’ piece written in 2013….pretty impressive influence network..also at

  10. March 2, 2016 7:01 pm

    Thank you for providing this website, & all the work you folks do!

  11. September 7, 2016 3:26 pm

    Holy crap! How did I only just now find this website? I’m in heaven.

  12. Richard Tomkins permalink
    July 23, 2020 12:27 pm

    I want to leaveunsubscribe from unredacted, how do i do that????


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