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Iran, 1977-1980
1 9 7 7 - 1 9 8 0


Revolutionary upheaval in Iran, crisis in American foreign policy, 1977-1980.

Research Problem

How to reach beyond the political cliches about "who lost Iran"? How to recover the thousands of secret or confidential American communiques, and piece together a complete, day-to-day record of U.S. interactions with the Shah, Iranian military officials, opposition politicians, and the religious movement? How to gain the inside historical grasp needed for contemporary policy debate?


The National Security Archive, a non-profit, Washington, D.C.-based research institute and library, has for several years been diligently locating, obtaining declassification of, organizing, and indexing government documents on U.S.-Iranian relations and many other contemporary foreign-policy subjects.

Through systematic document searching, sophisticated use of the Freedom of Information Act, cultivation of an extensive network of government, media, and academic contacts, and computer-based cataloging, the Archive has developed an unmatchable collection of primary materials--comprehensive in scope, pioneering in organization.

Now, through a cooperative publishing program with Chadwyck-Healey, this resource, once available only to Washington insiders, becomes available in fully-indexed form to researchers everywhere.

Comprehensive Coverage

Iran: The Making of US. Policy 1977-1980 reproduces on microfiche over 14,000 pages of rarely-seen documents from the highest levels of government.

In many cases, these materials have been gathered by the National Security Archive through its own--or other researchers'--Freedom of Information Act requests. Included are documents that, without Archive initiative, would probably not have been released by the government until the middle of the 21st Century.

The collection presents a uniquely integrated, thorough view of America's involvement in Iran, from the roots of the Carter Administration's dealings with the Shah, to shifting relations with the Provisional Government of Prime Minister Bazargan, to the final breakdown marked by Iranian seizure of the Embassy and the beginning of the hostage crisis.

Documents include:

  • Cables
  • Airgrams
  • IntelligenceReports
  • Memos
  • Statements
  • Briefing Papers
  • Reports
  • Press Briefings
  • Hearings
  • Letters
  • Internal Papers

  • One-Stop Retrieval

    It would take an individual researcher years of work, along with an overwhelming financial commitment, to accumulate the resources offered in this collection. Here is a one-stop retrieval for information on events, issues, and players, American as well as Iranian, pro-Shah, pro-Khomeini, and all ideological shades between.

    The State Department is the largest single source of docu- mentation, but there is also representation from:

    The White House
    National Security Council
    Central Intelligence Agency
    Defense Intelligence Agency
    Department of Defense
    Department of Commerce
    Department of Energy
    Department of Treasury
    Drug Enforcement Agency
    Congressional Committees

    Unprecedented Access Through In-depth Indexing

    In-depth, document-level indexing gives users an ease and precision of access that is rare among any published manuscript collection, government or non- government. Important transactions within each document are indexed individually.

    Prepared by the Archive staff, the hard-bound index to names and subjects--designed by indexing specialist David Bearman--is a major historical contribution in itself.

    Also provided are:

    Events chronology
    Glossaries of key individuals and organizations
    Chronological document bibliography
    Bibliography of relevant secondary sources

    Collection Breakthroughs

    Factors connected to the momentous events of November, 1979--the seizure of the U.S. Embassy and the taking of diplomatic hostages--add particularly rich dimensions to the document collection.

    Included are hundreds of highly-sensitive cables and memos seized by the Iranian militants, who in many cases reconstructed shredded materials. Although these materials have been published in Iran as "The Documents From the Den of Espionage," it is only with the National Security Archive/Chadwyck-Healey publication that these documents are arranged chronologically, indexed, and made useable for researchers.

    Research Vistas

    With its documentary richness and balance of perspectives,the collection opens important research vistas:

  • Evidence of the Shah's strong reliance on U.S. advice on how to deal with the Revolutionary Movement
  • The most complete view of U.S. policy toward the Shah as seen from the Embassy in Tehran
  • Iran as a test case for U.S. involvement with a Third World regime lacking popular support
  • An intimate look at the process of U.S. intelligence gathering and assessment
  • Coverage of individuals, movements, and ideas that continue to figure prominently in Iran and the Persian Gulf

  • The Collection Will Be A Necessity For

  • Scholars of American government and international relations
  • Specialists in the Middle East and Third World affairs
  • Development policy specialists
  • International energy professionals
  • Librarians and bibliographers
  • Newspaper, television, radio reporters and commentators
  • Government and business consultants
  • Policy-makers on all levels
  • Concerned citizens

  • Sample Document Titles

    This is a sampling of the more than 3,600 documents included in Iran: The Making of US. Policy:



    Iran: The Making of U.S. Policy, 1977-1980


    Reproduces on microfiche over14,000 pages of government documentation, much of it once-classified, pertaining to U.S. political, military, and economic involvement in Iran,1977-1980.

    Materials were identified, obtained, assembled, and indexed by the National Security Archive, a non-profit, Washington, D.C.-based research institute and library.


    This title is Number 2 of a reference series, The Making of U.S. Policy


    Documents are arranged in a general chronological order. Each document bears a unique accession number, to which all indexing is keyed.


    A two-volume printed Guide, prepared by the National Security Archive, accompanies the microfiche collection.

    Volume I is an index providing in-depth, document-level access to names, organizations, and subjects.

    Volume II contains an events chronology, glossaries of names and organizations, a chronological document bibliography and a bibliography of secondary sources.

    Orders and Inquiries

    Iran Editorial Board

  • Ervand Abrahamian Professor of History Baruch College, City University of New York
  • Richard Cottam Professor of Political Science University of Pittsburgh
  • Mark Gasiorowski Assistant Professor of Political Science Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
  • Jo-Anne Hart Assistant Professor of Political Science Brown University
  • Eric Hooglund Project Coordinator National Security Archive

  • Praise for Iran, 1977-1980

    "This rich document set is an invaluable source for scholars and interested citizens seeking to understand the complex process of American foreign policy making in this turbulent world. The documents which focus primarily upon U.S. policy towards Iran from 1977-1980 are genuine, fascinating, and revealing. They help explain why and how the deep reservoir of good will that marked U.S.-lran relations for a century was drained dry..pushing these two old friends to the brink of war. "

    James A. Bill
    Center for International Studies
    The College of William and Mary
    Author, The Lion and the Eagle

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