Here is a quick guide to the websites and other locators for public records of the Peace Corps cited in my blog. I’ll be adding as we go along. There is no Peace Corps Library. I could find no master catalog of all public Peace Corps documents. I would also add that Peace Corps Volunteers are private citizens doing public work. Some of the followingcollections contain documents from Peace Corps Volunteers created during service.
Peace Corps/Washington or PC/DC
Note: Personnel records are not public documents. Description of Service or DOS are considered personnel records. RPCVs wishing to obtain a copy of their own DOS should contact: Volunteer and PSC Financial Services at 1.855.855.1961 or 202.692.1770.
The Peace Corps website is: peacecorps.gov
Peace Corps did maintain a digital library of some historical documents and a collection of current stories from serving Volunteers and RPCVs. Updated 10.5.15: Peace Corps no longer has anything but photos in its Medica Library. Digitalized historical records, including speeches by Sargent Shriver and the historical “Letters from Peace Corps Nurses” have all been removed. It is not know if they have been destroyed or not. All of the speeches of Sargent Shriver can be found on the web site Sargent Shriver Peace Institute. Here is the link to the speeches: http://www.sargentshriver.org/speeches
Some current public documents, such as “Peace Corps Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal 2009″ and subsequent Fiscal Years can be found on the Peace Corps website: peacecorps.gov/docs Use the search box with the title “Performance and Accountability Report” and specify FY year.
To obtain a copy of a public record not found online a Freedom of Information request, or FOIA, may be made. The Peace Corps website has instructions on how to do this. That link is:
A general description of Freedom of Information polices and links to online documents can be found at:
Peace Corps administrative offices which may have public records of interest include:
The Information Collection and Exchange, or ICE, provides technical support to Volunteers. Its collection includes some historical documents and “field generated” materials by Volunteers. These materials may be available as public documents. (Updated 9.3.2015: Peace Corps is creating a new website that will include field materials and resources for serving Volunteers and staff. It is basically an intranet service; however, some information may also be available to RPCVs and the general public, in 12 to 18 months. The website is still a “work in progress.” )
The Office of Strategic Information, Research and Planning, or OSIRP, is developing an archive of historic documents. These materials may be available as public documents.
In making FOIA requests, I have found it important to be as specific as possible and to describe what you are seeking in a functional way as well as with a term you may remember from your service. For example, I found that current staff were not familiar with the terms “Group” or “site report”. Peace Corps may charge for a FOIA. I always ask to be notified first if the charge is going to be more than $20. So far, I have not been charged, but budget concerns may change that. Agencies should respond to a FOIA request within 30 days. If you are not satisfied with the response, you may appeal.
The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 mandated the creation of an independent Peace Corps Volunteer Sexual Assault Advisory Council. That Council published its first annual report in November of 2012. Here is the link: http://www.peacecorps.gov/resources/media/press/2150/
The second annual report can be found at: http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/policies/PCAC_Annual_Report_2013.pdf
Again, to obtain this report for 2014, use the title: Sexual Assault Advisory Council Report 2014 in the search box.
Peace Corps maintains videos of Peace Corps activities. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/user/peacecorps There is also a collection of stories by PCVs about their service. Here is that link: http://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/learn/whatlike/ownwords/
Records from Serving Peace Corps Volunteers and Staff
The internet has provided another means of communication about current Peace Corps programs. Not every Peace Corps country has a webpage, but those that do include Senegal. Here are the links to that program.
Other Government Sources
Almost all of these following source have documents that are not available online. There is a “finding aid” which describes the materials in the particular collection. It would be then necessary to visit the facility to view hard copies or request copies to be made and mailed. There is charge for that service.
The National Archives has a Peace Corps collection. The website is
nara.gov And, then follow this path:
- Research our Records-Search Online - Guide to Federal Records - Go Directly to Record Group; Write in 490 - Search OPA for Entries from this Record Group - Scroll down to “Records of the Peace Corps 1961-2000″- Key “all Descriptions Only
You should see 9 pages of description at bottom on page and key each page
For information on visiting or researching at the Archives, the website:
For specific information about visiting the archives where the Peace Corps records are kept, visit this website:
The Library of Congress has a unique responsibility. Its website is at http://www.lolc.gov/index.htm
To honor the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary, the Library of Congress created a special Peace Corps Experience Collection.
Here is the linkt to access the Bibliography of Peace Corps Authors:
Here is the mailing address for that collection:
Library of Congress
Peace Corps Archivist
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington D.C. 20540
The Smithsonian has a collection of materials from Volunteers and staff. The American History Museum and the National Anthropological Archives are two of the museums.
The website for the National Anthropological Archives is: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/naa/
Here is the link for the Collections:http://anthropology.si.edu/naa/fa/peace_corps.pdf This collection contains materials from 1961 to 1975. I could find nothing later than that.
American History Museum website is: http://americanhistory.si.edu/
The JFK Presidential Library also has a Peace Corps Collection. The website is: jfklibrary.org
The library is primarily interested in contributions from RPCVs who served during the Kennedy Administration.
The RPCV oral history collection is ongoing and is not limited to those who served during the Kennedy years.
To see the list of oral histories complied by the late Bob Klein’ RPCV Archival Network, this is the link to use:
Scroll down to “Series List,” click on a country, and then click on the plus sign in front of the name of an RPCV. The abstract of the interview appears.
To contact Library staff, use this email, cut and paste.
Acquisitions.Kennedy@nara.gov or call 617.514.1642
The Katy Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 has been passed by the Congress.
To read the text of H.R. 2337 and S.1280, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php
Key in the bill’s number in the appropriate search box.
The Education Research Information Center or ERIC also has a wide range of Peace Corps materials. The Materials include training manuals, reports of successful projects, plans to engage schools in learning more about the world among many other topics. Here is the link:
Peace Corps Online is an independent website at peacecorpsonline.org
It has an excellent collection of Peace Corps documents and articles. All are available online. The bulletin board page remains active. However, there have been no article posting on the website since 2012.
It is also useful to just Google a topic of interest. LInks may appear for public documents.
Professor Robert B. Textor authored the original “in, Up, and Out” memo in 1961. The memo was the foundation for the famous “Five Year Rule.”
To read the original memo and his commentary created this January, go to:
Professor Textor was also editor of the classic Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps.“Now, the book is available in PDF form, without charge. From his website:
CULTURAL FRONTIERS OF THE PEACE CORPS
Edited by Robert B. Textor, foreword by Margaret Mead. 1966
Download This Book Now (33 MB Adobe PDF) or Browse In an Online Flipbook
(10.4.12) The Browse in an Online Flipbook is not now operative.
On the occasion of the Golden Anniversary of the Peace Corps, I wish to thank the MIT Press for relinquishing rights to this book, and the Stanford University Libraries for making it available in digital form.
To download: http://www.stanford.edu/~rbtextor/publications.html
Lawrence F. Lihosit (RPCV Honduras) has written an excellent reference book: Peace Corps Chronology 1961-2010
The book may be purchased from Amazon.com. Peace Corps World Wide is Amazon Associate and the book may be purchased through this website.
Peace Corps Wiki is a comprehensive web site, published by RPCVs and independent of the official Peace Corps. It is interactive and encourages PCVs and RPCVs to contribute.
It has an impressive collection of up to date public documents from Peace Corps. Its website is: http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Peace_Corps_Wiki
The National Peace Corps Association an organization for RPCVs that encourages RPCVs to join in order to connect with others, and support the legacy of the Peace Corps. Its website: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org
The National Peace Corps Association also has on its aforementioned website, a list of all the alumni member groups by country. The websites of these groups are an invaluable resource for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers as well as prospective Volunteers.
Here is that link: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/resources/member-groups/
The First Response Action group is a group of RPCV women who have worked very hard to bring attention to the problem of Peace Corps Volunteers being
criminally assaulted during service. The group has worked with Peace Corps and both Republican and Democrat members of Congress to pass legislation.
The First Response Action website is : http://firstresponseaction.org/
Nancy E. Tongue is the RPCV who sparked the creation of the advocacy group “Health Justice for Peace Corps Volunteers.” The group has fought for better access to excellent medical care for both serving and returned Volunteers. Visit their website for a comprehensive view of the history and their efforts.
Many serving Volunteers are also maintaining blogs. These are not official Peace Corps blogs and Volunteers do follow the guidelines established by Peace Corps. For a list of some of these blogs, currently on 1.13.16 here is the link:
In 2013, American University expanded its archives to include donations from all RPCVs. The archive is the Peace Corps Community Archive. Archivist Susan McElrath is the contact for all of the archives at American University. The Archives are currently accepting donations. Please contact Susan McElrath for further information.
In 1999, the RPCV alumni group, Friends of Colombia initiated an archive for Peace Corps at American University in Washington DC, focusing on Peace Corps programs in Colombia. Information about the Archive and a finding aid describing the donations can be found at:
The Friends of Colombia Peace Corps Archives is still accepting donations.
If you are interested in making such a donation, please contact:
American University Library
To reach these archives at American University, copy and paste this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Archivist Susan McElrath is also the contact person for a new Peace Corps Archives begun at American University: The Friends of Nigeria Peace Corps Archives.
The National Security Archive at George Washington University is an excellent resource for public documents describing the diplomatic, military and other areas of US Foreign Policy. It an independent archive and provides a subscription service to public and private libraries. To access its entire collection online, it is necessary to visit a library that subscribes to the Digitial National Security Archive to be able to view all the documents. To learn more about the archive, visit the website at: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/
The University of New Mexico was an early site for Peace Corps training in the 60’s. There is an extensive collection of documents from that era at University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research
Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan also has a collection of papers from Peace Corps Volunteers. Here is that link: