Digital Resources for Studying Reagan and the Cold War | Jason Saltoun-Ebin googlea0aa0d8ee69b5ad6.html

Digital Resources for Studying Reagan and the Cold War


The Public Papers of the President of the United States as well as many other archival documents and recordings are available at the website of The American Presidency Projectthanks to Gerhard Peters and John Woolley.


Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars to check rising government secrecy, the National Security Archive combines a unique range of functions: investigative journalism center, research institute on international affairs, library and archive of declassified U.S. documents ("the world's largest nongovernmental collection" according to the Los Angeles Times), leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.

The National Security Archive has established an extraordinary track record of highly credible, award-winning investigative journalism and scholarship:

  • In 1998, the Archive shared the George Foster Peabody Award for outstanding broadcast series (CNN's Cold War).
  • In April 2000, the Archive won the 1999 George Polk Award, for which the citation reads, in part: "We are pleased to present this special 1999 George Polk Award to the National Security Archive, which is housed in the Gelman Library at George Washington University, for piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in the search for the truth and informing us all."
  • In September 2005, the Archive won an Emmy Award for outstanding news and documentary research. The citation states: "President Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China was one of the greatest diplomatic coups in history. This heavily-researched documentary reveals an unknown story behind the one most journalists and historians think they know. To tell it, the producers had to find, sift, evaluate and codify thousands of declassified documents, both from the U.S. government and the secretive Chinese government too. Working in cooperation with the National Security Archive, the program's researchers brought dry government files to life, revealing details that would have rattled the world at the time..."

As a pioneer of evidence-based research and primary source documentation, the Archive has achieved extraordinary, quantifiable success over the past 25 years:

  • 40,000 targeted Freedom of Information and declassification requests to more than 200 offices and agencies of the U.S. government that have opened more than 10 million pages of previously secret U.S. government documents;
  • over one million pages of these former secrets published on the World Wide Web, in books, microfiche, CD-ROMs, and DVDs-collectively described by the Washington Journalism Review as "a state-of-the-art index to history.";
  • more than 60 books in print by Archive staff and fellows, including the winners of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize, the 1995 National Book Award, the 1996 Lionel Gelber Prize, the 1996 American Library Association's James Madison Award Citation, a Boston Globe Notable Book selection for 1999, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of 2003, and the 2010 Henry Adams Prize for outstanding major publication on the federal government's history from the Society for History in the Federal Government;
  • over 350 "electronic briefing books"of newsworthy documents on major topics in international affairs, published on the Archive's award-winning Web site, which attracts more than 20 million visitors each year downloading more than 13.3 gigabytes per day, and won 40 citations from the Internet Scout Report of the University of Wisconsin, which recognizes "the most valuable and authoritative resources online;"
  • Forbes Magazine's "Best of the Web"award in 2005, and citation as one of the five "Top Sites"on the Web for terrorism-related information, with "fascinating primary data,"according to the National Journal (December 8, 2001);
  • 47 Freedom of Information lawsuits against the U.S. government, of which 27 have been successful (and four are pending), forcing the declassification of documents ranging from the Kennedy-Khrushchev letters during the Cuban Missile Crisis to the previously censored photographs of homecoming ceremonies with flag-draped caskets for U.S. casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;
  • Successful lawsuits against every President from Reagan to Obama to compel preservation of the White House e-mail, including 250,000 from the Reagan years, 450,000 from the George H.W. Bush years, 32 million from the Clinton years, and 220 million from the George W. Bush White House.
  • the first-ever conviction of a ranking military officer on human rights abuse charges in Guatemala, credited by The Economist (September 21, 2002) to the declassified documents and expert testimony presented by Archive staff at the trial;
  • publication of the authoritative series of Cold War Readers with Central European University Press, including scholarly documentary volumes on the crises in East Germany 1953, the Hungarian revolution 1956, the Prague Spring 1968, Solidarity and martial law in Poland 1980-81, the secret history of the Warsaw Pact 1955-1991, and the end of the Cold War in Europe 1989;
  • partnerships in over 50 countries with journalists, scholars, truth commissions, human rights monitors, freedom of information campaigns, and openness advocates, including the virtual network to open government files and enrich scholarship and journalism with primary sources.

Based at George Washington University's Gelman Library, the Archive relies for its 3 million yearly budget on publication revenues, grants individuals and grants from foundations such as the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations. The National Security Archive receives no government funding. Incorporated as an independent Washington, D.C. non-profit organization, the Archive is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt public charity.

For further information contact Thomas Blanton, Executive Director of the National Security Archive.

THE FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS hosts thousands of pages of tough to find U.S. government documents. Document sets include the National Security Decision Directives of the Reagan years, information on nuclear weapons, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and many more. also sponsors the Project on Government Secrecy. 


From the CWIHP website: 

The Cold War International History Project (CWIHP) was established at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., in 1991 with the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War, and seeks to accelerate the process of integrating new sources, materials and perspectives from the former "Communist bloc" with the historiography of the Cold War which has been written over the past few decades largely by Western scholars reliant on Western archival sources. It also seeks to transcend barriers of language, geography, and regional specialization to create new links among scholars interested in Cold War history.

Among the activities undertaken by the Project to promote this aim are a periodicBulletin and other publications to disseminate new findings, views, and activities pertaining to Cold War history; a fellowship program for young historians from the former Communist bloc countries to conduct archival research and study Cold War history in the United States; and international scholarly meetings, conferences, and seminars.

CWIHP receives funding from the Korea Foundation (Seoul), Henry L. Luce Foundation (New York), the MacArthur Foundation (Chicago), the Andrew Mellon Foundation (New York), and other donors.

Donations to the project are very welcome and, like all contributions to the Wilson Center, are tax-deductible.

The Miller Center for Public Affairs

The Miller Center is a nonpartisan institute that seeks to expand understanding of the presidency, policy, and political history, providing critical insights for the nation’s governance challenges.  Based at the University of Virginia, with offices in Charlottesville and in Washington, D.C., the Miller Center is committed to work grounded in rigorous scholarship and advanced through civil discourse. Gerald L. Baliles, 65th governor of Virginia and former chairman of the board of PBS, has served as director and CEO of the Miller Center since April 2006.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: 

“The Age of Reagan.”

-- Overview of the Reagan years by historian Gil Troy.

-- Collection of essays and primary source documents.

--  Lesson plans on: “Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority” (9-12); “Ronald Reagan on:  Reducing the Size of Government” (9-12); “Students’ Constitutional Rights in Public School” (9-12).


         The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

--  Official collection of documents from the Ronald Reagan White House.

-- Limited online usefulness as the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library has only digitized President Reagan’s public statements.

-- Recommended for advanced students interested in primary source research. Most useful for students who will actually research at the Reagan Library. Students should start with the FOIA topic guide:


The CIA Historical Collection on Ronald Reagan, Intelligence, and the End of the Cold War

-- The CIA, in 2011, in conjunction with the 100 anniversary of Reagan’s birth, declassified several documents related to the Reagan administration, intelligence, and the end of the Cold War.

-- Limited historical context making the documents difficult to understand. Therefore best used only by students with a strong background in this time period who have an interest in conducting primary source research.

You Tube

A) The CIA:

            -- Videos include: The Moscow Summit; The Soviet Space Program; The Soviet Media’s Portrait of America; Soviet Internal Propaganda; The Cold War; The Chernobyl Accident; The Andropov Succession; Speech at the Brandenburg Gate (June 12, 1987); Afghanistan: The Gallant Struggle.

B) The Ronald Reagan Foundation:

-- Channel includes dozens of speeches by President Reagan and videos of events at the Reagan Library. 

© Jason Saltoun-Ebin 2016