Type: Seminar

History, policy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the U.S. public’s access to declassified information


Dr. James Siekmeier, IPC Visiting Scholar

Date & time

Jan 28, 2021, 11:30 am-12:30 pm EST


This is a Virtual Event.

Open to all University of Michigan students.

Please join us for a virtual seminar featuring IPC Visiting Scholar, Dr. James Siekmeier.


An important aspect of democracy is the public accountability of government officials. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was first enacted in 1966 and has been updated in subsequent years. However, there are a number of different ways that classified information is declassified and released. FOIA is just one example. Another way is that government offices, often staffed by government historians, produce edited collections that include formerly-declassified documents. In addition, many government agencies, including the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency, have “Electronic Reading Rooms” online, with recently-declassified documents. Finally, non-government agencies, such as Washington DC’s National Security Archive, have recently-declassified documents (mostly obtained through FOIA) on their websites.

From the speaker's bio

James Siekmeier received his PhD in History from Cornell in 1993, specializing in the history of U.S. foreign relations towards Latin America. He has taught at colleges and universities in Washington, D.C., New York, Iowa, Texas, and in Bolivia, on two Fulbright Grants (where he taught courses on North American history in Spanish). From 2001 to 2007 he compiled the American Republics volumes in the Foreign Relations of the US Series, the official documentary history of US foreign policy put out by the US State Dept. He has published The Bolivian Revolution and the United States, 1952-Present (Penn State University Press, 2011) as well Latin American Nationalism: Identity in Globalizing World (Bloomsbury, 2017). Currently, he is an Associate Professor of History at West Virginia University.