Sunday, June 26, 2016

The National Security Archive at George Washington University

One of the biggest challenges for a genealogist is to understand the context of history surrounding their ancestors' lives.  What was happening, how did it affect individuals and families and how did these events unfold?

A great source for gaining understanding of American history and international events is the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington, DC.

According to the website:
Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, the National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ("the world's largest nongovernmental collection" according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.
 What is music to the genealogist's ears is that the Archive provides "evidence-based research and primary source documentation."  There are no opinion pieces here, only facts gleaned from 
US Government documents. Through Freedom of Information and declassification requests the Archive provides insight into the events we and our ancestors may have experienced.

The website contains more than 450 "electronic briefing books" of newsworthy documents on major topics in international affairs.  You can gain access to the information by visiting the website, visiting the reading room on the GWU campus or checking to see if your local library subscribes to ProQuest which includes the Digital National Security Archive.  Finally you can subscribe to their email service that provides updates and information about their research here.

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