What is the Freedom of Information Act?

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

FOIA InfographicEarlier this year, we told you that we’re developing teaching activities about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that can be easily integrated into the history and social studies curricula.

The tools will draw upon real-world examples that foster democracy and explain how the public can use FOIA to learn more about the Government’s actions.

Our colleagues in the Office of Government Information Services at the National Archives developed this infographic to explain basic facts about the public’s rights under FOIA and what to expect during the FOIA process.

Plain language and graphics are intended to help students easily understand the basic concepts of FOIA and where they can find more information about how to ask for copies of agency records.

You can use the infographic in your teaching toolbox right now (here’s the PDF). But you can also expect to see it integrated into forthcoming teaching activities on DocsTeach.org, our online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives.

The first activity using the infographic will explore the public’s response to the civil rights marches beginning in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. In response to FOIA requests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released a number of records detailing the events that occurred in Selma.

If you have other suggestions of records from the holdings of the National Archives that could help students understand the role of records in improving understanding of the government’s actions, please comment here or join our conversation on History Hub, the National Archives’ online community for researchers, citizen historians, archival professionals, and open government advocates.

We look forward to hearing from you, and to announcing release of our first activity incorporating FOIA!