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The Accessibility of Department of State Materials Relating to American Far Eastern Relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011

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This paper aims to present an informal overview of materials available on United States relations with the Far East as found in the records of the Department of State. At the outset it might be pointed out that the policy of the Department, both with respect to access to its records and in the reasonably expeditious publication of its foreign relations documents, is perhaps the most liberal of any major foreign office. This policy conforms with a fundamental maxim in the Department of State that the Congress, the world of scholarship, and the public at large be kept as fully informed about our foreign affairs as is consistent with sound diplomacy and national security. The opportunities, therefore, of research among primary sources on United States foreign relations are probably richer than those on the foreign affairs of any other country.

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1955

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This paper was delivered as a luncheon address at the Annual Meeting on March 30, 1955. The author received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 1949. From that date he has been employed in the Department of State, and has been with its Historical Division since 1951.

1 The following general bibliographies and guides are useful in the period before 1922: Bemis, Samuel F. and Griffin, Grace G., Guide to the Diplomatic History of the United States, 1775–1921 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1935)Google Scholar; Dennett, Tyler, Americans in Eastern Asia (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1922)Google Scholar; and Hasse, Adelaide R., comp., Index to United States Documents Relating to Foreign Affairs, 1829–1861 (Washington: Carnegie Institution, 19141921, 3 vols.).Google Scholar

2 Concerning the appropriate regulations, see Archives, National, “Regulations for the Public Use of Records in the National Archives,” dated 03 24, 1953.Google Scholar

3 Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States 1861–1932 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 18621948)Google Scholar; Foreign Relations of the United States 1933–1938 (Washington: Government Printing Office, 19491954)Google Scholar. See also Dennett, for further possible topics worthy of exploration in United States Far Eastern relations.

4 An indispensable finding aid for use in the National Archives is the latter's Guide to the Records in the National Archives (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1948)Google Scholar, cited hereafter as National Archives Guide. The “General Records of the Department of State” comprise National Archives Record Group 59, described in National Archives Guide, 221244.Google Scholar

5 National Archives Record Group 84, described in National Archives Guide, 332334.Google Scholar

6 National Archives Record Group 43, described in National Archives Guide, 153156.Google Scholar

7 Eckhoff, Mark G. and Mavro, Alexander P., “List of Foreign Service Post Records in the National Archives,” Special List No. 9 (Washington: National Archives, 1952).Google Scholar

8 Mavro, Alexander P., “Records of Selected Foreign Service Posts,” Preliminary Inventory No. 60 (Washington: National Archives, 1953).Google Scholar

9 Summers, Natalia, “List of Documents Relating to Special Agents of the Department of State 1789–1906,” Special List No. 7 (Washington: National Archives, 1951).Google Scholar

10 Helton, H. Stephen, “Records of United States Participation in International Conferences, Commissions, and Expositions,” Preliminary Inventory No. 76 (Washington: National Archives, 1955).Google Scholar

11 Leisinger, Albert H. Jr., “List of National Archives Microfilm Publications 1953” (Washington: National Archives, 1953).Google Scholar

12 National Archives, The Federal Records of World War II (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1950).Google Scholar

13 Helton, H. Stephen, “Records of the Foreign Economic Administration,” Preliminary Inventory No. 29 (Washington: National Archives, 1951)Google Scholar; Helton, , “Records of the Office of War Information,” Preliminary Inventory No. 56 (Washington: National Archives, 1953).Google Scholar

14 For an informative account of the history of Foreign Relations, see Perkins, E. R., “‘Foreign Relations of the United States’: 91 Years of American Foreign Policy,” Department of State Bulletin, 27 (12 22, 1952), 10011006.Google Scholar