Vietnam in Foreign Relations of the United States


This series provides the official record of the foreign policy of the United States since 1861. Many college and university libraries, including Richmond's Boatwright Memorial Library, hold most volumes in the series. Students may find them in the S.1 section of Government Documents, the section for U.S. Department of State records.

FRUS volumes support several periods covered in the ACS online course: The Vietnam Experience. Before 1951, Indochina is treated in the annual East Asian volumes. Beginning with volumes for 1952-54, documents appeared in multi-year compilations. As our involvement in Indochina increased, more documents appeared in this series; therefore documents for some years required arrangement in several parts and even several volumes. For 1955-57 and 1958-60, Vietnam materials appear in their own volumes, and at the beginning of the series of documents for those periods. For 1961-63, four entire volumes are devoted to Vietnam. These were published 1988-1991.

For a complete picture of FRUS volumes relevant to the online course, consult the guide entitled VIETNAM IN FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES. These volumes will be particularly useful for research and for specific assignments. As you read for this course, watch for citations in books and articles from FRUS. Core texts such as those by Duiker and Herring, as well as many other scholars, illustrate the use of this major source for official U.S. military and diplomatic history of the Vietnam war.


A. Sample citation for paper-format documents:

Circular cable by Dean Acheson, 29 April 1949, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1949 (Washington, 1977), 6:168-173.

The above sample, and your own citations, must include in this order: document(s) by title or subject, author(s) or senders, date(s), full and formal citation of FRUS, including volume date (which is part of the title of FRUS, place and date of publication of the volume, volume number and pages of document(s) read.

B. Sample citation for online documents:

In addition to the above parts of the citation, give the URL and the date accessed.

National Security Action Memorandum, No. 194, Washington, October 2, 1962, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961-1963, 11: Cuban Missile Crisis and Aftermath, (Accessed 29 December 1998).


A. Select one of the following assignments. Read the relevant FRUS documents and respond in a two-page essay to the questions which follow. This first assignment will require use of a printed volume of FRUS.

Reaction to Dien Bien Phu See FRUS, 1952-54, vol. XIII, Pt. 1, Indochina

Role of Philip Bonsal at Geneva Conference See FRUS, 1952-54, vol. XVI, The Geneva Conference

Taylor Mission, Oct. 15-Nov. 3, 1961 See FRUS, 1961-63, vol. I, Vietnam, 1961

Coup against Diem government, Oct. 23 - Nov. 2, 1963 See FRUS, 1961-63, vol. IV, Vietnam, Aug.-Dec. 1963

Questions to consider and further instructions

What information or viewpoints are present in the documents read? Of this material, what would be useful to historians and students studying the Vietnam Experience?

What editorial comments and/or other benefits do the State Department's historians offer the reader? (The Historical Office of State is responsible for collecting, editing, and publishing FRUS.)

Describe the subject and quantity of documents on your selected topic, briefly summarize the problem and solution (if any), and name major persons represented in the documents. Comment also on any reactions you have to the documents and/or issue involved in the documents.

B. Select one of the following assignments. Read the relevant FRUS documents and respond in a two-page essay to the questions which follow. This second assignment will require use of an online volume of FRUS.

Access one or more of the following sites by clicking on the URL. Browse some of the documents. Then select your own set of documents to read online, making sure that you have selected documents which are part of an issue, crisis, or other matter around which the State Department historians have organized the documents. Follow the instructions above for this second two-page essay. Only three volumes currently online relate to Vietnam. Your choices are:

Vietnam, Jan-June 1965


Vietnam, 1966


Laos, 1964-68



For additional information on the Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, you may wish to browse their homepage at:

Another part of the State Department's site offers complete information about FRUS:


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