Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR)
Under the provisions of Executive Order 13526 (which replaced Executive Order 12958 and its amendments) an individual may request the declassification review of specific classified material that (s)he is able to identify so that the agency may retrieve it with reasonable effort. MDR is appropriate for any classified materials including Presidential Papers which are not subject to the FOIA.
Please note: if you would like to file a request for mandatory declassification review, you must specifically mention MDR under E.O. 13526, and not the Freedom of Information or Privacy Acts.
More information is available in the Information Access Guide and 22 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 171, Subpart C – Executive Order 12958 Provisions. You may also wish to view Executive Order 13526.
25 year Declassification Review
E.O. 13526 provides for the review of classified records as they become 25 years of age. The Systematic Review Program (SRP) conducts the review of the Department’s permanent historical records, in all media formats, which are scheduled for transfer to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). After review, records are transferred to NARA according to authorized disposition schedules.
As permanent record series become 25 years old, they will be reviewed for declassification. These record series are described in our Records Disposition Schedules. The Department establishes priorities among the eligible series based on guidance from the National Archives and Records Administration and input from the public. If you wish to make recommendations for priorities among the permanent record series, please Share Your Ideas on the Department’s OpenState web site.
Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series
The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series constitutes the official historical documentary record of US foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. A staff of more than 30 historians and editors at the Office of the Historian in the Department of State compile and prepare the volumes for publication. Recent volumes are also available online at Volumes Online.
Volumes of the FRUS may be purchased through the U.S. Government Printing Office’s U.S. Government Bookstore.
Digital FRUS Project – a project of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago Libraries, this is a collection of incomplete volumes of the FRUS from 1861-1960 . This site is not controlled or maintained by the Department of State.
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Many records declassified and released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests are available in the Department of State’s Declassified/Released Document Collections.
Department of State Records at NARA
With the exception of genealogical records, Department of State records are the most heavily used public records at the National Archives. Generally permanent records 25 years and older, pre-1925 passport and pre-1940 visa records are property of NARA. When appropriate, these records have been declassified and cleared for release by Department of State officials.
Permanent records are transferred to NARA upon declassification review and in accordance with their records disposition schedules. For information on how to locate Department of State Records at the National Archives go to State Department Records in the National Archives.
Series of Interest
Central Foreign Policy Records – This series consists of materials related to all aspects of American bilateral and multilateral foreign relations and administrative and operational activities of the U.S. Department of State and its Foreign Service posts. Beginning in 1973, this series was created and maintained as an electronic file consisting of the full texts of telegrams to and from the Department and citations for paper records which were microfilmed for inclusion in the series. Records created through December 31, 1976 are now available at the National Archives or on the NARA website. Go to the Access to Archival Databases research tool on the NARA website for access to the Central Foreign Policy Files.
In June 2004, Department of State became the first government agency to transfer electronic textual records to NARA. For more information on the Department’s partnership with NARA, go to Secretary Powell's Remarks at State/NARA Ceremony.