Historical Review Office Collections on this site

The Princeton Collection

(9-10 March 2001)

Analytic Reports Produced by the Directorate of Intelligence on the Former Soviet Union Declassified and released for a March 2001 Conference at Princeton University

Collections available through the National Archives (NARA)

The CIA recognizes the importance of declassifying historically significant documents. In the 1980's, then Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) William Casey secured the CIA's operational exemption in return for establishing an Historical Review Program (HRP) to open up the CIA's historical record. The first release to the public by the CIA under its Historical Review Program was a 1,000-page history, The Central Intelligence Agency: An Instrument of Government, to 1950 by CIA's first Chief Historian, Arthur B. Darling. DCI Webster transmitted it to the National Archives and Records Administration in 1989. DCI Robert Gates established a more formal Historical Review Program in 1992. Reaffirming the principle that the US government's records should be open to the public, the HRP called for the CIA to make available significant historical information unless such release could cause damage to the national security interests of the United States. Subsequent DCIs R. James Woolsey, John Deutch, and George Tenet have supported this vigorous historical declassification program.

The Historical Review Program has been housed in different offices over the years, but continues the review and release of documents grouped thematically to tell the story of the Agency's acheivements and disappointments through time. To ensure that releases have historical value, officers select subjects with the advice and guidance of the CIA's History Staff, the DCI's Historical Review Panel, and the general public. Under guidelines laid out for the program, historical records are released except in instances where disclosure would damage national security. For example, the CIA would not release records that would reveal sensitive foreign government information or intelligence sources and methods. Documents also are reviewed by CIA components and often by other US Government entities to clear their equities. When publicly released, document collections are housed in the National Archives, and may also appear on one of several CIA websites, depending on the extent and duration of public interest in the subject matter.

For more information on specific historical collections, click on the title of the collection in which you are interested.