Old References – obsolete
Here is a quick guide to the websites and other locators for public records of the Peace Corps that I used in the past. Peace Corps is undergoing a transition in its webpages. I have found it increasingly difficult to locate records that were previously easily accessible. It could be because I lack the necessary technical expertise to adequately search the website.
This website, Peace Corps World Wide, is an an excellent source for Peace Corps History. RPCVs John Coyne and Marian Haley Beil have been preserving Peace Corps History by promoting Peace Corps writers and publishing first person accounts about Peace Corps and its Volunteers for over 35 years.
This is so important because 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, ext 2120 or 1.202.692.2120 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Peace Corps website is: peacecorps.gov To look at reports and other information on the Peace Corps website, scoll to the bottom of the page and click on Open Gov: https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/open-government/
Peace Corps did maintain a digital library of some historical documents and a collection of current stories from serving Volunteers and RPCVs.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 Media Library. https://www.peacecorps.gov/current-volunteers/photo-and-video-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/speeche
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 as well as some public documents. Here is the link: https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/open-government/foia/
I have found it almost impossible to locate reports which were previously available.
Peace Corps administrative offices which may have public records of interest include:
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 Peace Corps Inspector General does evaluations of individual country programs and Peace Corps management systems. To read those reports online, here is the link: https://www.peacecorps.gov/about/inspector-general/reports/
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. Some countries have official websites. I would suggest searching for:
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 pages of description at bottom on page and key each page.
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 link 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. Papers of Peace Corps Volunteers, 1920-1984
A telephone number that may be helpful: 202.633.1000
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:
The Education Rsearch Information Center, here is the link: https://eric.ed.gov
Write “Peace Corps Materials” in the search box.
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)
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.
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.
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/
There are no recent posting on the website. But it gives an excellent historical account of the work done which resulted in the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011.
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.
In 2013, American University expanded its archives to include donations from all RPCVs. The archive is the Peace Corps Community Archive. Archivist Susan McElrath has been the contact for all of the archives at American University. The Archives are currently accepting donations. To reach the Archives, Google: Peace Corps Community Archive
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: email@example.com
The Friends of Nigeria Peace Corps Archives may also be contacted at the above email.
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: