The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act has been broadly welcomed by contemporary British historians as a means of increasing access to public records within the thirty-year rule. But the benefits of this formal commitment to open government are untested, and experiences in other countries with FOI or Access to Information legislation have raised a number of shared problems and concerns.
These problems are common among countries with FOI legislation. But there has been very little discussion among historians and archivists internationally about dealing with these issues as well as reflecting on the benefits of access legislation.
This volume will be the first to compare and reflect upon both the successes and difficulties of FOI across the world. Written by an international mixture of senior archivists and historians, it will appeal across the disciplines of history and archive studies.
Section 1: Freedom of information in Britain 1. ‘History Must be Written Imperfectly’: Closure and Disclosure in British Public Records, 1838–2006 David Vincent 2. Opening Government? The Freedom of Information Act and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Gill Bennett 3. The Freedom of Information Act in Practice: The Historian’s Perspective Andrew Flinn and Harriet Jones 4. The Freedom of Information Act and Welsh Devolution Duncan Tanner and Mari Elin Wiliam Section 2: Comparative Experiences of Freedom of Information 5. The Access to Information Shuffle: Historical Researchers Versus the Government in the Netherlands Bob de Graaff 6. Access to Information: Promise Versus Practice in the USA Don B. Schewe 7. Freedom of Information and the American Presidency: A Researcher’s Perspective Darby A. Morrisroe 8. The Problematic Freedom of Information Principle: The Swedish Experience Kjell Östberg and Fredrik Eriksson 9. Access to Information and Historical Research: The Canadian Experience Larry Hannant Section 3: Historians and the Closed Archive 10. Problems in Obtaining and Using Official Records for Research in Irish and British History in the Twenty-first Century Eunan O’Halpin 11. Censorship, Declassification and the History of End of Empire in Central Africa Philip Murphy 12. Researching Contemporary Monetary History: The Archival Experiences of an Economic Historian Michael J. Oliver 13. Political and Digital Divides: The Dual Challenge for Central European Archives Miklos Lojko