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 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.

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.

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]

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
PREM19/2928 Comoros (UK/Comoros relations) 1987 Jun 5 1990 Oct 16 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1364 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meeting with delegation of West German industrialists, April 1984) 1982 Sep 16 1984 Jan 24 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3964 Transport (London Regional Transport: East-West Crossrail)(Part 4) 1990 May 8 1992 Aug 27 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3331 Finland ​​​​​​​(UK/Finland relations: appointment of Prime Ministers; visits of President and Prime Ministers of Finland)(Part 1) 1979 Jun 1 1991 Dec 3 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2084 Economic Policy (Domestic monetary policy) (Part 16) 1986 Oct 1 1987 Jun 23 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/2642 Economic Policy (Prime Minister's meetings with Dr Armand Hammer of Occidental Petroleum) (Part 2) 1982 Sep 29 1989 Dec 18 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2675 European Policy (European Monetary System (EMS)) (Part 3) 1987 Jun 10 1989 Feb 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3537 Security ​​​​​​​(Ministerial protection (personal): security arrangements for the overnight policing of Ministers' cars; VIP security)​​​​​​​ (Part 2) 1987 Oct 2 1991 Jul 26 Retained Under Sec 3.4
PREM19/2399 Prime Minister (Proposal for a Margaret Thatcher Chair of International Relations) 1987 Oct 12 1988 Jun 23 2016 Jul 21
PREM19/3132 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, September 1990: administrative arrangements) 1989 Dec 1 1990 Oct 18 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/3762 Foreign Policy (Relations with Latin America) 1982 Jun 2 1992 Feb 28 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3140 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's visit to Paris, January 1990: administrative arrangements) 1990 Jan 8 1990 Jan 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/1681 Canada (Prime Minister's Visit to Canada, July 1986: Vancouver Transportation Exposition 1986 (Expo 86)) 1981 Jul 8 1986 Sep 12 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/3380 Home Affairs ​​​​​​​(Review of the law on public order)(Part 3) 1986 Jun 2 1991 Jun 17 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2867 Soviet Union (Visits to the UK by Soviet Deputy Prime Ministers: Leonid Konstandov, Vladimir Kamentsev and Aleksandra Biryukova) 1983 Sep 23 1989 Jul 26 2016 Dec 30

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