Introducing FOIA to a New Generation of Requesters

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We hope our work will help young researchers learn to love FOIA. (NARA Identifier 23932367)

In October 2015, the White House released the Third U.S. Government National Action Plan. While NAP 3.0 includes a number of useful commitments from the National Archives, we are particularly excited about OGIS’s commitment to develop curriculum tools to introduce secondary students to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

FOIA is a powerful tool for those who wish to learn more about how government agencies do their work, but too many are unaware that the right to request government records exists. In collaboration with the National Archives’ Education and Public Programs Division, OGIS is developing teaching resources about FOIA that can be easily integrated into secondary school lesson plans. We envision these materials fitting neatly into existing units in social studies, history, civics, and government classes (but we can’t wait to hear how educators in other areas use them!).

In order to illustrate the power of records to shed light on the government’s actions, these lessons will link FOIA to key historical events. As a first step, OGIS solicited input from staff across the National Archives to help identify records in the National Archives Catalog that link to important points in history.

We also hope that you can suggest records in the National Archives Catalog that will help students understand the role of records in improving understanding of the government’s actions. If you do, please join the conversation on History Hub, NARA’s online community for researchers, citizen historians, archival professionals, and open government advocates.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

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