Guides by Level of Government
The State Department's Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series is the official historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series began in 1861 and is available for dates up until about 40 years ago. For security purposes, there is a moving wall on release of information.
Foreign Relations volumes contain more than just material originating from the Department of State. Included are communications and reports from other federal agencies, and material from individuals who were involved in international relations such as executives of commercial organizations operating in foreign countries. The FRUS series is not an exhaustive collection. Editors in the State Department's Office of the Historian have selected particular items for inclusion based on their ability to elucidate the history and formulation of U.S. foreign policy.
One especially useful and regularly occurring feature in the FRUS were the CIA's National Intelligence Estimate reports. These were high-level interdepartmental reports first published in the fall of 1950. According to the source, "Each Estimate was intended to be the most authoritative interpretation and appraisal of a situation available to policy makers. It presented the coordinated expression of the best intelligence opinion from the CIA, FBI, the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Department of State, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Atomic Energy Commission. Provision was made for the notation of dissent where unanimity did not exist." See sample National Intelligence Estimates for the time period 1950-1953 (opens rtf file). We also invite you to browse a selection of NIEs concerning the Soviet Union during the Cold War period (opens rtf file).