Archive

Large scale document archive

MT's official files as Prime Minister, 1979-90

MT's official files as PM can be read on this site as they are released, in full and free to all - the confidential files originally stored at No.10, the core record of her premiership.

This is the first time in Britain - in fact as far as we can tell, in any country - that the declassified archive of a head of government has ever been published in full, paper or online.

The files have been copied at the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in London and can be downloaded precisely as they appear in the reading room.

We are doing something more to help people make sense of this mass of information. The files are subject-based, logically enough, but that system makes it difficult to reconstruct the flow of paper across the Prime Minister’s desk at any point in time, depriving us of a sense of context and cross-winds, some of them overwhelming.

To combat this effect we are uploading a large selection of the most important documents from these files – thousands in total - to our powerful site database. You can search and sort by date, subject and other parameters, getting as close as anyone can now get to reconstructing the Prime Minister’s daily "Red Boxes", the rich diet of foreign and domestic policy papers submitted to her by the No.10 Private Office.

list & links to the files

Secret no more

 

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system. Files held back from release are listed in red.

An average file has around 200 pages.

You can read here an account of how filing worked at No.10, and the system for archiving MT's Prime Ministerial papers, both of which had their quirks.

Some of these downloads are very big, as large as 75MB, though most are in the range 1-10MB. To keep sizes down, images have been compressed, though legibility should never be a problem. High quality copies can also be supplied, where a need is established, on application to the site editor.

Where documents within a file have been selected for the site database, they can easily be viewed by clicking the link after the file name ("Selected PREM19/959"), as well as via conventional searches from the archive search screen. Over time most files will have had documents selected in this way, but it will take time and care is being taken not to allow the site database to become so large as to be unmanageable.

You can sort each column by clicking on its title in bold at the top, a powerful tool to find all the files on a particular subject over several years.

You can also search the list from the box on the right. The term "Public Spending", for example, will produce all the parts of the main file on that topic.

engagement diaries

An alternative way through the material is to read MT's engagement diaries, jumping day to day.

The engagement diaries link directly to relevant documents in the site database, so this is a good way to recover the perspective from the Red Box.

 

Link to full file File name Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classificationsort ascending Pages Link to selections
PREM19/2288 Jordan (Prime Minister's messages to King Hussein on births of his children) 1980 Apr 1 1986 Feb 12 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1844 Defence (Project Moonflower) 1986 Feb 3 1986 Dec 9 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1671 Aerospace (Westland Helicopters) (Part 6) 1986 Aug 1 1986 Nov 19 2016 Feb 19
PREM19/2737 Industrial Policy (Research and development: review of international research and development programmes) (Part 6) 1989 Jan 17 1989 Sep 7 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2109 Economic Policy (Toronto Economic Summit: Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Economic Summits; briefing for third meeting of Personal Representatives ('Sherpas'), Paris, May 1988) (Part 2) 1988 Mar 1 1988 May 31 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2466 Regional Policy (Inner Cities Initiative: progress on 'Action for Cities'; Teesside development initiative; access to Cabinet and Prime Minister's office papers by National Audit Office for study on urban regeneration; Cardiff Bay Barrage) (Part 14) 1988 Jun 1 1988 Jul 28 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2323 Memoirs (Report of the Committee of Privy Counsellors on Ministerial Memoirs (Radcliffe Report): declarations by Ministers) (Part 1) 1979 Aug 10 1986 Nov 6 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1763 Germany (Internal situation) (Part 2) 1982 Oct 1 1986 May 30
PREM19/2329 Ministers (Ministers' plans for holidays and official visits overseas during the Parliamentary recess) 1980 May 7 1988 Jun 6 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/1764 Germany (Anglo-German relations) (Part 3) 1984 Oct 1 1986 Sep 22
PREM19/1297 Lebanon (Internal situation; Multinational Force (MNF) in Lebanon; UK/Lebanese relations) (Part 6) 1983 Dec 30 1984 Feb 27 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/1596 (Representation of political Parties at ceremonial occasions: Cenotaph, State banquets, Battle of Britain commemoration) 1983 Jul 27 1985 Aug 21 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/3177 Soviet Union (Policy towards the Soviet Union: call on Prime Minister by Robert Conquest; Soviet and East European studies) (Part 2) 1987 Nov 13 1990 Jun 7 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2098 Economic Policy (Pension funds) 1987 Mar 24 1987 Jul 30 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2949 Economic Policy (Public spending) (Part 44) 1990 Jan 5 1990 Aug 28 2016 Dec 30

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