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 PM's 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.
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.
Chancellor of the Exchequer's Private Office files, 1979-89
1979-89: Chancellor's Private Office files [links to hundreds of digitised files from the Chancellorships of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson]
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.