Government Document Archives Online

Over at Sources and Methods, Kristan Wheaton has published a list of online archives of declassified or otherwise released government documents. Some of the sites linked to – like the National Security Archive and the CIA’s FOIA Reading Room – are like old and dear friends. Others, like the EFF’s user-unfriendly document archive, were new to me.

There are a couple of valuable sites he missed, though…

Most notable, in my opinion, is the ever-interesting Government Attic, whose motto isn’t, but could be, “because we can”; nothing seems too old, too obscure, or too esoteric for them to request, and publish.

John Young’s Cryptome is a controversial miscellany of mind-boggling breadth and depth. Searching through it is a bit of a pain, but there’s a lot of very interesting stuff there that tends not to get a lot of attention.

A special nod is due OpenCRS, who have managed to publish literally thousands of “non-public” Congressional Research Service reports over the years.

On the military end of things, never overlook the Army’s Reimer Digital Library; sure, they arbitrarily withhold all kinds of innocuous things for no discernible reason, but they’re one of the better resources for keeping up with what’s just been published or updated. (Odds are, you won’t be able to view or download it, but at least you’ll know it exists.) The Combined Arms Research Library, a/k/a CARL, is a great resource for current non-doctrinal, as well as historical, records and documents, many of which have not otherwise been available to the public.

If you can get access – I can’t, though I’ve tried repeatedly – the Navy’s Homeland Security Digital Library is said to be one of the premiere online repositories of security-related material. That’s what I’m told, anyway; like I said, they wouldn’t let me join their elite fraternity, the bastards. 🙂

If UFOs and other “out-there” stuff is more your thing, the Black Vault, I’m told, is a pretty smashing collection of government records you may well find interesting.

Oh, and lest this seem overly US-centric, don’t forget all the various branches of Her Majesty’s Government with FOI sites, like the Ministry of Defense’s disclosure log.

If you can think of any good resources S&M or I missed, let me – him – us – know. My suspicion is that all these big, well-known sites only account for a small fraction of the stuff that’s made available every year; someone really should try to make a global directory of all the stuff that’s out there. (I mean, hell, I’ve completely lost track of how much stuff I’ve published here in the last four years that was released under the FOIA, leaked by kind readers, or otherwise “acquired” from nonpublic sources, and there are hundreds of other sites out there in a similar situation.)

Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on March 24th, 2009| Comments Off on Government Document Archives Online

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