The Iran Hostage Crisis was a major international crisis caused by the seizure of the U.S. Embassy, and its employees, by revolutionary Iranian students. The students, with support from the Ayatollah Khomeini-led government of Iran, held Embassy employees as hostages for 444 days. The crisis began 40 years ago on November 4, 1979 and ended with the release of the hostages on January 20, 1981.
Beginning in January 2016, the National Declassification Center (NDC) began reviewing certain records series related to the Crisis and prepare them for release. A majority of the records came from the Department of State and documented the work done by various Department of State officials and working groups in trying to bring about a diplomatic end to the crisis. The NDC was specifically interested in records which had not been released before by the National Archives and which would thus be likely to provide additional information on the Crisis. T. Working in tandem with the NDC, staff at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum were able to release additional records related to the Hostage Crisis that had not been previously available. These records were then included as part of this special project for a total of approximately 7,200 pages of newly declassified records from several series.
The Situation Reports (Sitreps) were up-to-the-minute, informational reports about developments of the hostage crisis. The first one was issued on the day the hostages were taken, November 4th, 1979; the last one, Sitrep No. 561, was issued on January 19th, 1981, the day before the hostages were released. Generally, there was one Sitrep issued each day, and on some days, especially early in the crisis, several were issued per day. The Sitreps were created by an informal organization within the Department of State called the Iran Working Group (IWG). View the Sitreps in the Catalog.
Learn more about this event and the records held by the National Archives on our website. Additionally, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library has a web page dedicated to the topic, "The Hostage Crisis in Iran".
Citizen Archivist Mission: Iran Hostage Crisis
In commemoration of this historic event, we’ve identified records related to the Iran Hostage Crisis for our latest Citizen Archivist mission. Each of your contributions to these records will help make them easier to find in our Catalog for other users.