Foreign Affairs


Much policy development takes place in the White House and is documented in the files of the Presidents and their extended staffs. The records and files of all Presidents since Herbert Hoover are located in the Presidential Libraries operated by the National Archives and Records Administration or among the Presidential records in the custody of the National Archives and Records Administration. In addition to White House files, the Libraries hold the files of the National Security Council (NSC) and its staff, other high-level organizations, and the personal papers of key individuals.

Congress also has a role in American foreign policy. The Senate provides advice and consent to all treaties, and many committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have oversight on issues relating to foreign affairs. Of most importance are the records of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The work of other committees also may touch on foreign relations matters and Congress has established numerous temporary committees and sub-committees to study special issues and matters relating to U.S. foreign affairs.

As you begin preparations for conducting research at the National Archives, we suggest you consult this FAQ on how to make your research visit more successful.  This reference paper on Getting Started provides information on the process for requesting records for use in the Research Room and the steps necessary to locate the information needed to prepare a pull slip.

Incorporating source citations to the records you consult is a significant part of your work.  It is important to understand what information you will need for useful archival citations before you begin your document collection, not as you are finalizing your research.  This reference paper provides guidance on Citing the Records with a focus on foreign affairs records.