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 namesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages Link to selections
PREM19/1497 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to South-East Asia, April 1985) (Part 1) 1985 Apr 1 1985 Apr 4 2014 Dec 30 5 Top Secret 146
PREM19/1498 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to South-East Asia, April 1985) (Part 2) 1985 Apr 5 1985 Jul 27 2014 Dec 30 2 Secret 367
PREM19/2996 Foreign Policy (Prime Minister's visit to Switzerland, September 1990) (Folder 2) 1990 Aug 20 1990 Sep 23 2016 Dec 30 5 Confidential 56
PREM19/2178 Foreign Policy (Strategy on foreign policy and defence issues) (Part 3) 1985 Apr 1 1987 Jul 31 2016 Jul 21 Secret and Strictly Personal 216
PREM19/3762 Foreign Policy Relations with Latin America 1982 Jun 2 1992 Feb 28 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3333 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Allegations concerning war crimes: War Crimes Inquiry; War Crimes Bill)(Part 3) 1990 Jan 1 1991 May 1 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3335 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Newsletters from Brian Crozier: 'World Briefing' (privately funded monthly intelligence analysis))(Part 7) 1990 Jan 1 1991 May 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3340 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's meetings with the Foreign Secretary)(Part 2) 1987 Oct 20 1990 Dec 18 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3341 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Quadripartite meetings (at Ministerial and Prime Minister level): meetings of Personal Representatives; USA/European relations) 1980 Jan 1 1991 Jul 31 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3334 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Relations between UK, France and Federal Republic of Germany) 1987 Apr 3 1991 Feb 19 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3342 Foreign Policy ​​​​​​​(Summary notes on Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) Assessments)(Part 4) 1989 Aug 1 1991 Feb 22 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2180 Former Prime Minister (Proposed visit by Sir Harold Wilson to the Soviet Union) 1982 Oct 5 1986 Nov 19 2016 Jul 21 In Confidence 8
PREM19/2182 France (Prime Minister's visits to France, November 1986 and March and July 1987) (Part 5) 1986 Oct 21 1987 Oct 30 2016 Jul 21 Top Secret UK Eyes A 287
PREM19/3344 France ​​​​​​​(Anglo-French relations)(Part 5) 1988 Dec 8 1991 Feb 26 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3343 France ​​​​​​​(Internal situation)(Part 3) 1986 Oct 7 1991 Nov 21 2017 Jul 20

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