Finding Declassified Government Documents

Declassified refers to government documents that were formerly classified as secret and are now ceased to be restricted. Students, faculty and staff  have access to several resources through the Graduate Center Library in which to find declassified U.S. government documents.

DDRS CK3100380878

Declassified Documents Reference System: Document Number: CK3100380878

Declassified Documents Reference System (DDRS) provides access to documents from a variety of U.S. government agencies such as the CIA, FBI, White House, the National Security Council, Defense Department and several others.  The types of documents that can be found include correspondence, memorandum, meeting minutes, and confidential file materials.

There are two versions of DDRS:

  • The first is a microfiche set of declassified documents. The microfiche set ranges from 1975 to 1985 and is searchable through a print index.
  • The second is an online database. Full-text searches can be performed by document type, issue date, source institution, classification level, date declassified, sanitization, completeness, number of pages, and document number. The online collection ranges from post-World War II through the 1970s.


Why would someone need the old microfiche when we have access to the full-text online? The online version is a subset that ends in the 70’s. While much easier to search, it is missing upward of 10,000 documents.

DDRS microfiche 1980, 36D-39B

Declassified Documents Reference System: microfiche Defense Dept. 1980, 36D-39B

DNSA CO02320

Digital National Security Archive: Statement on CIA Casualties in Afghanistan, CIA Covert Operations, 1977-2010 collection, item number CO02320










Digital National Security Archive is a collection of over 103,000 declassified government documents. Currently, there are 42 collections that cover critical world events, countries, and U.S. policy decisions from post-World War II through the 21st century.


Declassified documents can also be found on a number of federal agencies web sites. In addition, below are several resources that are freely accessible on the web:

Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room

Gulflink  (Persian Gulf War documents)

Pentagon Papers

PlusD  (WikiLeaks Public Library of US Diplomacy)

Presidential Recordings Program  (University of Virginia, Miller Center of Public Affairs)

State Department Electronic Reading Room

Vietnam War Declassification Project  (Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library)

About the Author

Melissa Longhi is the Serials and Reserve Acquisitions Manager at the CUNY Graduate Center Library.