Introducing FOIA to a New Generation

You can see this post as it originally appeared on our sister blog The FOIA Ombudsman.

Students in a library
We hope our work will help young researchers learn to love FOIA. (National Archives Identifier 23932367)

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, generally provides any person with the statutory right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to Government information in executive branch agency records.

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.

So, in partnership with colleagues in our Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), we’re developing teaching resources about FOIA that can be easily integrated into secondary school lessons.

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. Join our conversation on History Hub, our online community for researchers, citizen historians, archival professionals, and open government advocates.

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 our commitment to develop curriculum tools to introduce secondary students to the Freedom of Information Act.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

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