Research at the National Archives

Headquarters Decentralized Files - Finding Aids

A. Records Accessioned Before 1985

Headquarters decentralized files in RG 59 accessioned before 1985 are described in Inventory 15, Inventory of the General Records of the Department of State. The records described there are generally dated before 1950. Records of interest can be found by using the table of contents and subject index.The following sections of the inventory describe the records.

II. Records of Organization Units

III. Records Relating to Various Functions

IV. Records Relating to Special Subjects and to Individuals

Records of interest also can be found by using the table of contents and subject index to the inventory.

B. Records Accessioned After 1985

Many decentralized records have been accessioned since completion of Inventory 15 and are not described in that publication. Most of these records are dated after 1950, but there are files of earlier dates, too. NARA staff have produced finding aids for many of these records. Some of those series have been described in the National Archives Catalog and most of those online catalog descriptions include a folder list for the records.  Finding aids are also available in the Research Room.

C. Other Finding Aids

Documentation in the Department's central files can point researchers in the direction of relevant decentralized files. Close examination of the documentation in the central files for drafting information and office and routing stamps on individual documents can pinpoint the offices involved with the subject of research. Published reports and organization manuals and directives also will identify offices of interest. Foreign Relations of the United States also provides citations to relevant decentralized files, usually by Lot number and not the archival citation.