Office of the Historian Announces the 150th Anniversary of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 2, 2011

The Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, announces the sesquicentennial of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series.

December 3rd marks the 150th anniversary of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, the largest and most comprehensive series of its type in the world. First published in 1861, the series has become a leading example of governmental openness and embodies the U.S. Government’s commitment to responsible transparency. Over the past 150 years, FRUS evolved to become the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy decision-making and major diplomatic activity. The series is prepared according to scholarly best practices under a 1991 Congressional mandate for “thorough, accurate, and reliable” coverage and timely release.

FRUS began as part of Abraham Lincoln’s first Constitutionally-prescribed annual message to Congress in 1861, a response to Congressional and public interest in the steps undertaken to neutralize Confederate diplomacy. In the twentieth century, even after volumes lagged further behind events, the Foreign Relations series was the first outlet for the full record of many significant diplomatic events, like high-level discussions at the post-World War I Paris Peace conference and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s World War II summit meetings. Today, it provides essential documentation for scholars, journalists, and the public – both within the United States and throughout the rest of the world – seeking to understand international affairs. Not only do Foreign Relations volumes thoroughly document decision-making atop the U.S. Government, but, in many cases, they also shed light on foreign policies pursued by other governments. Additionally, in recent years, FRUS has become the leading vehicle for official acknowledgement of historical U.S. covert actions. Though it has changed significantly over time, the series continues to play an important role in defining the proper balance between security and openness in the U.S. Government.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the FRUS series, the Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State has delved into the story of how the series evolved over time. This research engages many important themes in U.S. history, including the transformation of government institutions, changing conceptions of national security and transparency, and the increasingly important role that the United States has played in the world. To learn more about the history of the series and the Office of the Historian’s outreach efforts, you can find research posts, videos, original documents, and notices for upcoming events at

PRN: 2011/2043