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 filesort descending File name Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/2633 Economic Policy (G7 Summit - Toronto, June 1988) (Part 26) 1988 Jun 18 1989 Jun 19 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2635 Economic Policy (Investigation powers under the Companies and Financial Services Acts: disclosure of interests in shares; Tokyo Stock Exchange) (Part 5) 1987 Jun 15 1989 Jan 25 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2636 Economic Policy (Covenanted charitable donations by close companies: taxation of charities; White Paper on Charities) (Part 1) 1985 Mar 22 1989 May 16 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2637 Economic Policy (The coinage. Note: With coins) 1980 Nov 20 1989 Sep 11 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2638 Economic Policy (VAT zero rates: infraction proceedings; European Court of Justice judgment) (Part 1) 1982 Feb 12 1989 Feb 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2639 Economic Policy (Correspondence with Sir Emmanuel Kaye on capital taxation) 1979 Oct 3 1989 Jul 21 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2640 Economic Policy (Vehicle Excise Duty) 1979 May 14 1989 May 2 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2641 Economic Policy (Paris Economic Summit, July 1989) 1989 Aug 1 1989 Sep 4 Retained Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2643 Education (General policy on education) (Part 20) 1988 Dec 1 1989 Mar 23 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2644 Education (General policy on education) (Part 21) 1989 Apr 3 1989 Jun 30 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2645 Education (General policy on education) (Part 22) 1989 Jul 3 1989 Dec 19 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2646 Education (Nursery education of children under 5) 1979 Dec 6 1989 Apr 17 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2647 Education (The Open College) 1987 Aug 21 1989 Mar 6 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2648 Education (School meals, milk and transport) 1979 Sep 13 1989 Jun 15 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2649 Education (Violence and discipline in schools) 1987 Nov 30 1989 Mar 13 2016 Dec 30

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