April 06, 2009
By Elisabeth Grant
The Office of the Historian, within the U.S. Department of State, has launched a new, sleeker, and more interactive web site. Their old site explains that, "You have asked for more resources at your fingertips for all things related to U.S. diplomatic history, and we have responded."
The home page of the new site calls the most attention to the Foreign Relations of the U.S. (FRUS) series, which the Office of the Historian is legally responsible for preparing and publishing. The FRUS volumes are "the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity." While the complete FRUS series is still being transferred from the old site, a good selection is now available at the new site.
Also on the homepage of the new site are links to recent news and conferences (in the "What’s Happening?" section), highlighted educational resources for teachers (curriculum modules), and two interactive features: a map and a timeline. Manipulate both the map and the timeline and find links to related information on countries and time periods.
The navigation of the site (along the top and left side of the home page) break the web site into parts, the main ones being:
- Historical Documents – This section contains the Foreign Relations of the U.S. series. Browse by volume, theme (like “Oceans Policy” or “Sports and Diplomacy”), or administration (pre-Kennedy, Kennedy, Johnson, or Nixon-Ford)
- Department History – Learn about changes to the Department of State over years, (from 1775 to 1992), read biographies of secretaries of state, and find out the history of Department of State buildings.
- Milestones – this collection of essays presents 18 time periods and describes the U.S.’s foreign relations in each of those periods.
- Countries – Search by country to find out: “1. the date and circumstances under which the United States recognized, or was recognized by, each state; 2. the date and mode by which the United States established diplomatic relations with each state; 3. the date the United States established a physical diplomatic presence through a legation, embassy, or other mission in each country; 4. and the dates and circumstances of any interruption or resumption of diplomatic relations.” Also, search the World Wide Diplomatic Archives Index, a guide to researchers on the “accessibility of diplomatic archives around the world.”
- Educational Resources – Teachers of middle and high school students can find and download the following curriculum modules:
- A History of Diplomacy – American diplomacy from the colonial through present times.
- A Journey Shared – The relationship between the U.S. and China since 1784.
- Sports and Diplomacy in the Global Arena – A look at the interaction between sports and diplomacy since the Olympics in ancient Greece.
- Terrorism: A War Without Borders – Put together with the help of a special committee of social studies teachers, this module is meant to “help students to understand the connection between world events and their own lives and those of others in their community.”
- Today in Washington: The Media and Diplomacy – Learn about the interactions between diplomats, reporters, and the media.
Since the site is so new, the Office of the Historian is encouraging visitors to explore and send comments and suggestions to email@example.com.