Friday, March 9, 2012

E-book version of Foreign Relations of the United States

Great news for anyone doing research involving State Department records  -- the published compilation of State Department records is going digital.  As I've noted before, these records are not only valuable for historians of U.S. foreign relations, but can shed light on other topics related to global reaction to events in the United States, constitutional development in other nations, and more.

The Office of the Historian at the U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce the release of its Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series in a new e-book format that is readable on popular electronic devices such as the Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad. The e-book edition combines many of the benefits of print and web publications in a new form that is portable and extremely convenient. During the pilot phase of the FRUS e-book initiative, five selected FRUS volumes will be offered on the Office of the Historian's e-book homepage.  The public is invited to download the new e-books and provide feedback to help improve the FRUS e-book edition. At the conclusion of the pilot phase later this year, the Office will work to offer e-book versions of many more FRUS volumes both through the Office website and on a wide array of e-bookstores. The Office will continue to expand and enhance its e-book offerings, as part of the ongoing FRUS digitization effort.

The FRUS e-book initiative is an outgrowth of the Office of the Historian's efforts to optimize the series for its website. Because the Office adopted the Text Encoding Initiative's open, robust XML-based file format (TEI), a single digital master TEI file can store an entire FRUS volume and can be transformed into either a set of web pages or an e-book.
The free, open source eXist-db server that powers the entire Office of the Historian website also provides the tools needed to transform the FRUS TEI files into HTML and e-book formats.

For questions about the FRUS e-book initiative or feedback about the "beta" FRUS e-books released today, use this contact email.

The 151 year-old FRUS series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the U.S. Government.

Office of the Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
U.S. Department of State
March 8, 2012