35+ Years of Freedom of Information Action


This is a partial listing of prizes and awards to the National Security Archive as well as to individual staff and fellows:


The National Security Archive

George Polk Special Award (1999)

Excerpt from the citation: “Using freedom of information law and extracting meaningful details from the yield can be an imposing, frustrating task.  But since 1985, the non-profit National Security Archive has been a FOILer’s best friend, facilitating thousands of searches for journalists and scholars.  The archive, funded by foundations and income from its own publications, has become a one-stop shopping center for declassifying and retrieving important documents, suing to preserve such government data as e-mail messages, pressing for appropriate reclassification of files, and sponsoring research that has unearthed major revelations .... We are pleased to present this special 1999 George Polk Award to the National Security Archive, which is housed in the Gelman Library at George Washington University, for piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in the search for the truth and informing us all.”

Emmy Award for outstanding news and documentary research (Discovery Times Channel, Declassified: Nixon in China, aired December 21, 2004) (2005)

The citation states: “President Nixon's historic 1972 trip to China was one of the greatest diplomatic coups in history. This heavily-researched documentary reveals an unknown story behind the one most journalists and historians think they know. To tell it, the producers had to find, sift, evaluate and codify thousands of declassified documents, both from the U.S. government and the secretive Chinese government too. Working in cooperation with the National Security Archive, the program's researchers brought dry government files to life, revealing details that would have rattled the world at the time...

George Foster Peabody Award for outstanding broadcast series (shared award for contributions to CNN's 24-episode Cold War) (1998)

The citation reads, in part: “Cold War is more than an outstanding, unparalleled 24 episode television series. Cold War is also a monumental achievement in research ... it represents a landmark contribution to global understanding. The bedrock of the effort is the documentary series, created under the aegis of Sir Jeremy Isaacs and Pat Mitchell, as executive producers ... This is not just as assemblage of newsreel footage or a compilation of stories well-told elsewhere. Each hour is rife with new information, much of it only recently made available under the Freedom of Information Act in America, and due to the collapse of communism in the former Soviet Union.

International Political Science Association, “Top 300 web sites for Political Science,” to the National Security Archive (2007)

Forbes Best of the Web (2005)

Citation for “singlehandedly keeping bureaucrats’ feet to the fire on the Freedom of Information Act.

Journalismdegree.org includes Freedominfo.org on its list of Best Sites for Journalists (2012)

Internet Scout Report (2003-2014)

The Archive has received 54 citations from the University of Wisconsin’s Internet Scout Report recognizing “the most valuable and authoritative resources online.”

Outstanding Academic Title (2018)

Choice Magazine names the Digital National Security Archive an “Outstanding Academic Title” for 2018. The annual award goes to publications deemed especially worthy of attention from academic librarians seeking to build research collections.


Staff and Fellows


  • Choice magazine selection as an "Outstanding Academic Title 2017" (Svetlana Savranskaya and Thomas Blanton for The Last Superpower Summits:  Gorbachev, Reagan, and Bush: Conversations that Ended the Cold War)


  • Order of Bernardo O'Higgins, highest civilian honor awarded by Chile to non-Chileans (Peter Kornbluh and John Dinges)


  • Douglas Dillon Award, American Academy of Diplomacy for best book on the practice of US diplomacy (Peter Kornbluh for Back Channel to Cuba, with William LeoGrande)
  • Award from the Argentine Embassy in Washington for his “contribution in the fight for human rights during the Argentine civic-military dictatorship (1976-1983)” (Carlos Osorio)
  • Choice magazine selection as an "Outstanding Academic Title 2014" (Malcolm Byrne for Reagan's Scandal: Iran-Contra and the Unchecked Abuse of Presidential Power)


  • Charles Horman Truth Foundation Award for Chile declassification work (Peter Kornbluh)


  • ALBA/Puffin Foundation Prize for Human Rights Activism (Kate Doyle)
  • The Washington Post’s Ten Best Books of 2012 award for nonfiction  (Jim Hershberg for Marigold: The Lost Chance for Peace in Vietnam)


  • Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, Tufts University (Thomas Blanton)
  • Arthur S. Link-Warren F. Kuehl Prize for Documentary Editing, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) (Svetlana Savranskaya, Thomas Blanton, Vladislav Zubok for Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989)


  • Henry Adams Prize in American History, Society for History in the Federal Government (John Prados for Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975)
  • James Madison Award, American Library Association, for “defending the public's right to know” (Meredith Fuchs)


  • Marshall Shulman Prize, Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (Vladislav Zubok for A Failed Empire: The Soviet in the Cold War from Stalin to Gorbachev)
  • OMB Watch Public Interest Hall of Fame for outstanding public interest work both locally and internationally (Thomas Blanton)


  • University of North Carolina, Knowledge Trust Access Award, for promoting, expanding and enhancing access to the world’s recorded knowledge (Thomas Blanton)


  • Emmy Award for outstanding achievement in News and Documentary Research for Declassified: Nixon in China (see above)


  • Marshall Shulman Prize, Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (Hope Harrison for Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961)
  • MacArthur Foundation Research and Writing Award (Avner Cohen)
  • Mossadegh Prize, biennial award for outstanding book on Iran (Malcolm Byrne for Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, with Mark Gasiorowski)


  • Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction (Samantha Power for “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide)
  • Los Angeles Times “Best Books of 2003” (Peter Kornbluh for The Pinochet File)


  • National Journal cited the Archive’s September 11the Sourcebook series as “one of the top five sites for terrorism-related information on the entire World Wide Web”


  • The 1999 George Polk Award to the National Security Archive (see above)


  • George Foster Peabody Award for outstanding broadcast series (shared with others for CNN’s Cold War) (see above)


  • Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction (Tina Rosenberg for The Haunted Land: Facing Europe’s Ghosts after Communism)
  • Lionel Gelber Prize for “the world’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs,” Foreign Policy magazine and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto (Vladislav Zubok for Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev, with Constantine Pleshakov)
  • James Madison Award, American Library Association, citation for “defending the public's right to know” (Thomas Blanton)      


  • Arthur Goodzeit Book Award, New York Military Affairs Symposium (John Prados for Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II)


  • James Madison Award, American Library Association, citation for “defending the public's right to know” (Scott Armstrong)