Hidden Perspectives

Hidden Perspectives is an interactive digital archive consisting of documents and events relating to the U.S.-Iran relationship’s history since the 1978 – 1979 Iranian revolution.


The U.S.-Iran relationship has long been staggered by each party’s ignorance about the other. Missed opportunities for improvement rose not merely from bad luck but from knowing too little vital information about the other. 40 years after the Iranian revolution, we have still lots to learn about this complex interrelation.

To address this knowledge gap John Tirman, Malcolm Byrne and Hussein Banai have approached this relationship in an unusual way. They conducted several “critical oral history” conferences, where they brought together policymakers from several countries, mainly Iran and the United States but also others, involved particularly in negotiations from Britain, France, and Italy. In various sessions, they interviewed key players and absorbed contemporary scholarship to identify hidden perspectives and missed opportunities.

As a basis for the conversation, they provided a collection of documents procured through Freedom of Information Act requests and open-source documents, such as published interviews, analyses, memoirs, and more. This archive of documents is the bulk of what is now accessible on this platform.

For it to be accessible to other scholars and the public, a digital presence has been developed. Hidden Perspectives is the result of this development. It is an attempt to create a framework to explore the material and deep dive into specific historical contexts.

The Digital Archive

The digital archive consists of 560 documents, dating from 1971 to 2012. Those have been summarized and enhanced with additional metadata. Furthermore, a thousand event entries ranging from 1975 to 1999 extend the dataset.

In order to uncover patterns within the archive and to contextualize individual documents and events, connections were made. We also used the process called named entity extraction to identify protagonists involved in the dataset. While the dataset might contain human biases and automation mistakes, it served as an initial foundation for further investigation and will be improved in the long run. Ultimately, those connected entries were visualized in an interactive digital archive that provides an elegant way to access and explore the delicate connection between the two countries.

The Application


Understand the chronology of events, documents and the involvement of protagonists.