Division of Archives and Records Service

Freedom of Information (FOI) Day and James Madison

Renee Wilson
March 16, 2016

Fun fact: we celebrate Freedom of Information day on March 16 because that is James Madison’s birthday. If you’ve never heard of James Madison, go look him up: Father of the Constitution, Father of the Bill of Rights, Fourth President of the United States, etc., etc.

Image of James Madison

James Madison, 1816 by John Vanderlyn. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

What, you ask, is Freedom of Information Day? And why James Madison?

Freedom of Information Day is a celebration of open government, and raises awareness of the need for greater transparency at all levels. The American Library Association also presents awards on FOI Day for those who have made an outstanding contribution to public access.

James Madison is viewed as the earliest proponent of open government. His prolific essays, letters, and notes were instrumental in the creation of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and America as we know it.

What can you do to celebrate FOI Day?

Thank you to all our amazing records officers who work every day with government records. You make transparency possible, and that is a huge job. Keep up the great work!


Resources for James Madison’s writing