Quick Facts

  • More than 116,000 declassified documents
  • More than 765,000 pages of material
  • Actual documents that were used to develop and implement domestic and foreign policies
  • Provides the story behind events and crises
  • Encourages critical re-evaluation of previously published memoirs and other subjective writings


TIME PERIOD: 1945–2006


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Related Subject Areas
American History
International Affairs
Political Science

Related Areas of Interest
British Empire
Cold War
International Politics
Refugees and Displaced Persons
Vietnam War

Government documents constitute a significant resource for researchers in almost every discipline. Limitations on the access to this information, severely restricts our understanding of the development of domestic and foreign policies. Now, Cengage Learning makes it possible for researchers to easily and quickly access and review selected previously classified government documents online through the Declassified Documents Reference System.  This digital collection fills an important gap in post-World War II domestic and foreign policy studies and provides unique opportunities for undergraduate and graduate comprehensive research in a rich primary source. In addition, Declassified Documents Reference System provides basic research for journalism, public policy studies, international law and security, and other disciplines.


Summary:  As a multi-disciplinary, comprehensive source, Declassified Documents Reference System's greatest value lies in the wealth of facts and insights that it provides in connection with the political, economic, and social conditions of the domestic U.S. and foreign countries. From many perspectives, this collection illuminates such events and developments as the recognition of the economic and strategic importance of the Middle East, the development of the Cold War and Soviet expansionism, the problem of refugees and displaced persons, the various faces and responses to the end of colonialism in Africa, the economic and social stratification of Latin America, the “miracle” of Western Europe following the devastation and economic collapse of the immediate postwar period, and the application of the “domino theory” in Asia..

Significance:  Declassified Documents Reference System is not just for international affairs and foreign policy research. There are significant materials highlighting the political, social, and economic development and forces in post-World War II America. There are documents on the:

               “Communist Scare” of the 1950s

               Black militancy and violence in the 1960s and the white backlash

               Civil Rights and Anti-War movements

               Political scandals and abuse of power

               Home-grown terrorism

               Domestic fight against Al-Qaida

               Development of NAFTA and world trade


Declassified Documents Referece System provides users with –

               actual documents that were used to develop and implement domestic and foreign policies;
               provides the “real” story behind events and crises;
               and encourages critical reevaluation of previously published memoirs and other subjective    writings.


Source:  Material in Declassified Documents Reference System originated in a wealth of U.S. government official bodies and agencies, including:

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Defense Department
  • Justice Department
  • National Security Council
  • State Department
  • Commerce Department
  • White House
  • And more

Materials available for review include:

  • Cabinet meeting minutes
  • CIA intelligence studies and reports
  • Correspondence
  • Diary entries
  • FBI surveillance and intelligence correspondence and memoranda 
  • Full texts of letters, instructions, and cables sent and received by U.S. diplomatic personnel
  • Joint Chiefs papers
  • National Security Council policy statements
  • Presidential conferences
  • State Department political analyses
  • Technical studies
  • Trade treaties, studies and analyses 
  • U.S. briefing materials for meetings with foreign heads of state and government officials
  • White House Confidential File materials

Structure: Declassified Documents Reference System makes possible both broad-based and highly targeted investigation of government documents. Users can query every document in the database for any name, date, word, or phrase. Searches can also be focused according to document type, issue date, source institution, classification level, date declassified, sanitization, completeness, number of pages, and document number. The database ranges from the years immediately following World War II, through the 1970s, when declassified documents were first made widely available, up to an d including the Iraq War and the War on Terrorism. Nearly every major foreign and domestic event of these years is covered: the Cold War, Vietnam, foreign policy shifts, the civil rights movement, and many others.



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