Digging into the National Security Archive

Summer Intern Panel    |   11/30/17

About the Collaboration:

Swarthmore College & National Security Archive

Summer Interns

- Lewis Fitzgerald-Holland

- Matthew Chaffinch
- Leo Eliot
- Conrad Pastore (Tufts)


- Carlo Bruno
- Brandon Conner
- Michael McVerry
- William Meyer

Diego Armus

Professor of History

Carlos Osorio
National Security Archive
Information Systems Manager, Director of the Southern Cone Documentation Project


Roberto Vargas

Research Librarian for Humanities & Interdisciplinary Studies

Sarah Elichko
Social Sciences Librarian

Since 1985, the Archive has:

• Filed 50,000+ targeted Freedom of Information Act and declassification requests

• Opened 10 million+ pages of previously secret U.S. government documents

• Provided evidence and expert testimony crucial to the conviction of human rights abusers in national and international trials

Research institute on international affairs
+ library and archive of declassified U.S. documents
+ public interest law firm

Scope & scale of the work

8 students • 800 diplomatic cables • 2000-2010 (mostly)


Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay

Venezuela-United States



Russia-Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Nicaragua



What are diplomatic cables?

  • Communications between the State Department and diplomatic missions abroad
  • Sent electronically since the 1970s; previously sent by mail and by telegraph

What are diplomatic cables for?

Embassy officials use cables to describe important meetings, analyze political trends in the countries where they are based, and make policy recommendations.

- Foreign Policy (2010)

US Diplomatic Missions

Process & Output


- Document Metadata

- Reference materials:  chronologies, glossaries

- Identifying research opportunities (e.g. FOIA requests)

- Blog posts (nsarchive.swarthmore.edu)

Weekly phone/video meetings
Google Docs, Alchemy, Zotero


National Security Archive Internship Panel

By Swarthmore Reference

National Security Archive Internship Panel

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