I. About the Archives
- IMF Policy on Access to the Archives
The public has access to a substantial range of information as part of IMF's efforts to promote openness and transparency. IMF’s Archives Policy (Decision No. 14498 – (09/126), adopted 12/17/09 and effective 03/17/10) gives to the public access to documentary materials maintained in the IMF's archives including:
- Executive Board documents, which are available to the public under 3, 5, and 20-year rules except for items exempted from public disclosure
- Institutional archives, which are available after 20 years
IMF Records exempt from public disclosure are:
- Legal documents protected by attorney-client privilege;
- Confidential documentary materials provided to the IMF by external parties, including member countries, their agencies and central banks, unless such parties consent to their declassification;
- Personnel files, medical and other records pertaining to individuals; and,
- Documents and proceedings of the IMF Grievance Committee.
Since 1996, the time rules for access were modified to respond to the users' community but the initial records types excluded from access by external researchers remain unchanged.
- Copyright to Archives Holdings
The IMF Archives site contains some digitized material to which the IMF does not hold copyright. A single copy may be made by an individual for his/her own private, non-commercial use. For all other purposes, it is the responsibility of the individual to obtain permission for use from the copyright owner. For more information regarding other terms and conditions of usage (including privacy, personal non-commercial usage and preservation of immunities) please see IMF Copyright and Usage and visit the IMF Bookstore Website for contact information.
- Conditions to re-use Material from the IMF Archives
The modernization of availability of archival material from the IMF Archives to researchers does not change the conditions by which an outside researcher can publish any public Fund archival records in a printed or electronic publication or on the internet. As in the past, permission for publishing Fund archival records in a printed or electronic publication or on the internet is granted only if the relevant country authorities consent to their publication after seeking their views as well as those of the authoring department. The procedure is that the Archives submits a request for an outside researcher to the appropriate Executive Director, and subsequently transmits the authorities' written consent or non-consent to the researcher. The researcher's publication of Fund archival material is governed by the Copyright and Usage Terms. Usually, these requests are submitted to EXR Editorial and Publications Division.
- Disclaimer for Access to Departmental Records
Under the Policy on Access to the IMF's Archives only departmental archival materials that are 20 years old or older are open to researchers although descriptions may cover more recent material. There might be descriptions of holdings in the Archives catalog less than 20 years old due to archival processes but they will be available to the public only when they fulfill the 20-year rule.
II. What is in the Archives and how it is Organized
- Organization and Description of the Archives Holdings
The IMF Archives holdings are composed of Collections and Fonds. Essentially, collections are an artificial accumulation of documents of any provenance brought together on the basis of some common characteristic while fonds are all documents created, accumulated and used by one individual or organization in the course of their activities or functions.
The holdings consist of two components: (1) the Executive Board Documents and (2) the Institutional Archives which are departmental archives and other fonds and collections. These holdings contain records in various formats, including, manuscripts, digital records, photographs, audio recordings and multimedia.
- Executive Board Documents
Executive Board Documents Collection: It is a digital set of official papers for circulation to the Executive Board, the Executive Board's Committees, and the staff that is issued since 1946 by the Secretary's Department. The Collection includes: agendas and minutes of Board meetings; policy papers; staff reports; reports on missions to member countries; and discussions of fiscal, monetary and economic policy issues). Most of this collection has been digitized and documents in the public domain are available via the Archives catalog. For more information on the work of the Executive Board and its decision making process, please click here.
- Institutional Archives
- Bretton Woods Conference Collection: The Collection covers the initial proposals that led to the establishment of the IMF and IBRD (aka World Bank), the working Conferences of Atlantic City (June 1944) and Bretton Woods (July 1944), as well as the proceedings of the inaugural meeting of the Boards of Governors of IMF and IBRD in Savannah (March 1946). The Collection consists of the records maintained by the Secretariat of the Bretton Woods Conference (1940-1947) and papers of IBRD / IMF staff and former US Treasury Department and Delegation members Richard Brenner, Ansel F. Luxford and Edward Bernstein. The Collection is available in physical and digital formats.
- Central Files Collection: This physical, topical Collection is organized into six series: Administration, Country, Economic Subject Files, International Organizations, IMF Organization, and Publications. Initially established by the Secretary's Department in 1946 as the official records of the Fund, the Collection complements the Departmental Archives described below. The Collection consists of correspondence, memoranda, and other materials concerning the policies, procedures, organization, and core operations of the IMF. It contains a significant proportion of records documenting relations between the IMF and member countries, the United Nations and other international organizations, as well as relations with regional and national organizations in the economic arena.
- The Departmental Archives are structured according to the Fund's organizational chart. The title of each fonds will evolve as more material is processed and the archivists get closer to today's organization; an administrative history of each department retraces all organizational changes and names of departments since 1946. Those records are in the custody of the Archives because of their enduring evidential, legal and historical values. These records, dating from 1946, originate from the office of the Managing Director, as well as from Departments, Offices, and Bureaus. The records document the core functions of the Fund including: the role and responsibilities of departments, offices and bureaus; financial operations and policies; IMF programs; and relations with member countries and other parties. Each fonds usually consists of Administrative Files, Chronological Files, Consultation Files, Consultation Minutes, Country Files, Economic Subject Files, and Subject Files as well as records specifically maintained by Department Heads, Deputy Directors and Advisors.
- Management Records: records are composed of the files maintained by former Managing Directors Ivar Rooth (1951-1956), Per Jacobsson (1956-1963), Pierre-Paul Schweitzer (1963-1973), Hans Johannes Witteveen (1973-1978), Jacques de Larosière (1978-1987), and Michel Camdessus (1987-2000), Deputy Managing Directors, and Advisors. Records are organized into Departmental Archives standard series (i.e., correspondence, country files, subject files). The records of the IMF's first Managing Director - Camille Gutt - can be found in the Central Files Collection.
- Area/Regions Departmental Records: those include the Research Department's early records, 1946-1950, since the Fund's relations with member countries were first the responsibility of the Research Department's area divisions. In 1950 the function was taken over by two short lived departments: (1) the European and North American Department and (2) the Latin American, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern Department which became four separate Departments in 1953: the Asian, the European, the Middle Eastern, and the Western Hemisphere Departments. The African Department was created in 1961. The current holdings include the records of: the African Department, Asia and Pacific Department, European Department, European II Department, European and North American Department, Latin American, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern Department, Middle Eastern Department, and Western Hemisphere Department. The records of the area departments are described according to the following standard series – administrative files, chronological files, consultations files, country files, International Organization files, Subject files, technical assistance files, country desk, mission files, etc.
- Functional Departmental Records: consist of the records of the Research Department including the Statistics Division. Also part of that category are the records of the Bureau of Statistics, Central Banking Department, Exchange and Trade Relations Department (1946-1995), including former Operations Department (1946-1950) and Exchange Restrictions Department Records, (1950-1964), Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF Institute, Legal Department, and the Treasurer's Department, including the former Comptroller’s Office Records, (1946-1950). The records of the functional departments contain the following standard series – administrative files, chronological files, country files, international organization files, subject files, technical assistance files, country correspondence, etc.
- Information, Liaison and Support Departmental Records: consist of the records of the Administration Department, including the Human Resources, the Bureau of Language Services, the Bureau of Computing Services, Secretary's Department, including the Secretary's Records Division photographs and sound recordings collections (1946-2000), and Technology and General Services Department, which includes the photos of the Multimedia Services Division.
- Staff Members, Associations and Foundation papers: the Hubert Neiss Papers (1983-2000), the Jacques Polak Papers (1919-2006), and the Per Jacobsson Foundation (1963-2006).
III. How to Prepare for an Onsite Visit to the Archives
- Visiting the Archives
Records eligible for declassification will be reviewed in accordance with the IMF Policy on access to information before they are ready for research use. This process usually takes from 12 to 16 weeks to complete depending on the volume of records requested. The process may take longer if the Archives needs to consult a related business unit or third party.
Researchers can only make an appointment to view requested records after they have been notified of the results of the review process.
The Archival holdings of the IMF are accessed at IMF Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The unique and irreplaceable nature of archives makes it impossible to provide access to the original material anywhere other than in the Archives reading room. Researchers who are unable to come to Washington, D.C. can employ research agents to consult the records on their behalf.
An archivist will retrieve and deliver the items to the researcher in the reading room. An archivist will explain the Archives reading room rules and how to use the records. The Archives also maintains a collection of reference works for use in the reading room, including histories of the IMF.
External researchers can contact the reference staff through the following means only:
International Monetary Fund
Archives and Records Management
700 19th St., NW,
Washington, D.C. 20431
- Upon arrival a reference archivist will discuss the archives procedures, explain the reading room regulations, and answer any questions
- All researchers are expected to comply with copyright law and must sign an agreement to this effect upon arrival
- Illustrative Research Topics
The Executive Board documents and the internal working documents of the IMF are archival records that provide original source material enabling historical research and analysis, of the evolution of the international financial system since Bretton Woods. Topics include:
- International Monetary and Financial Conference of Bretton Wood, New Hampshire
- Fund membership, quotas, resources
- Borrowing by the Fund
- The creation of the General Arrangements to Borrow (GAB) in 1962
- The creation of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR)
- Collapse of the par value system
- IMF's financial structure and treasury operations
- Use of IMF resources and Fund conditionality
- Creation of Stand-By Arrangements (SBA)
- Other IMF Facilities
- Compensatory Financing Facility (CFF) 1963-
- Extended Fund Facility (EFF) 1974-
- Oil Facility, 1974; 1975-1976
- Compensatory and Contingency Financial Facility (CCFF) 1990-1991
- Buffer Stock Financing Facility (BSFF) 1969-2000
- Structural Adjustment Facility (SAF) 1986-
- Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) 1987 (Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) since 1999
- The onset of the Latin American Debt Crises 1980
- Debt relief and the Brady Plan 1989
- Technical Assistance
- Overdue Financial Obligations and Late Payments
- Relations with individual member countries
- Frequently Asked Questions for Visitors
- Who can use the IMF archives?
- Do I need an appointment to come to the IMF Archives?
- What form of photo identification is needed?
- Where are you located?
- Is the Archives reading room accessible by disabled persons?
- What are the reading room hours?
- How are the time rules for access to IMF records administered?
- How are restricted documents declassified?
- What is the photocopying policy?
- May I use a digital camera in the reading room?
- May I use a laptop computer in the reading room?
- May I send an independent researcher on my behalf?
- Do you conduct archives research for people who cannot visit in person?
- How do I cite records found in the IMF Archives?
- Is it possible to request access to records in the IMF Archives that are less than 20 years old or classified?
1. Who can use the IMF archives?
Members of the general public with an interest in the history and policies of the IMF can conduct onsite research in the IMF Archives.
2. Do I need an appointment to come to the IMF Archives?
Yes. Please see Visiting the Archives section.
3. What form of photo identification is needed?
Visitors must present a current government-issued photo ID such as a passport or driver's license.
4. Where are you located?
The IMF Archives is located in the IMF Headquarters 1 Building (HQ1) in Washington, D.C. For information about visitor access to the IMF, directions, business hours and holiday schedules please see Visiting the IMF.
5. Is the Archives reading room accessible by disabled persons?
Yes — the reading room is accessible by elevator.
6. What are the reading room hours?
By appointment only.
7. How are the time rules for access to IMF records administered?
To administer the three, five, and twenty-year rules, the IMF Archives applies the IMF's Transparency Policy (Decision No. 14498 – (09/126), adopted 12/17/09 effective 03/17/10.
8. How are restricted documents declassified?
Public has access to the institutional archives maintained in the Fund's Archives that are more than 20 years old, taking into account that access to Fund records originally classified as "Secret" and "Strictly Confidential" would only be granted upon the consent of the Managing Director to their declassification or from Heads of Departments and Offices for records originating from or inherited by their business unit.
9. What is the photocopying policy?
Photocopies are no longer provided.
10. May I use a digital camera in the reading room?
The Archives recommends the use of a digital camera to make copies of documents but note that flash photography is not permitted. A camera stand is provided to researchers for this purpose.
Scanning of records is not allowed: we encourage visitors to bring their own flash drive or CD in order to copy the digitized documents.
Staff reserves the right to deny requests to copy fragile original materials for conservation reasons.
11. May I use a laptop computer in the reading room?
Yes. There is a WIFI connection in the Reading Room.
12. May I send an independent researcher on my behalf?
Yes. With advance notice we allow professional researchers to conduct research on behalf of someone who is unable to come onsite.
13. Do you conduct archives research for people who cannot visit in person?
We can provide brief responses to factual requests but, for more substantive or analytical work, researchers are expected to come in person. General inquiries regarding IMF policies, relations with member countries, or requests for statistical data should be directed to the IMF Public Affairs Division at email@example.com while inquiries regarding IMF publications available for purchase should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
14. How do I cite records found in the IMF Archives?
Any researcher using archival material from the IMF Archives, regardless of the citation style they prefer to use (such as APA, ASA, Chicago, Harvard, MLA etc), should note that citation of archival material typically has two basic parts: the location reference and the document description, each of which may have several components. In any cases, the following elements should be included: (1) Location reference: Name of the repository, Title of the fonds or collection, and Reference Code (if any); and (2) Document description: Title of Series, Sub-series, Folder title, and date range. For more information, please visit the IMF Bookstore Website.
15. Is it possible to request access to records in the IMF Archives that are less than 20 years old or classified?
There is a modality for exceptional access to materials in the IMF Archives. The application of the Archives Policy allows the Executive Board to make certain exceptions with regard to access to records. Since the Board's approval of the Policy on Access to IMF Archives in 1996, staff has continued to follow the long-standing policy of requesting Board consent for ad hoc exceptions to the policy on behalf of external researchers. A reasonable cost recovery scheme may be maintained for administering ad hoc requests for Board approval of exceptions to the terms specified under this Decision. No charge shall be assessed for requests received from government officials of member countries.