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 classification Pagessort descending Link to selections
PREM19/1793 Home Affairs (The 1978 annual report by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC): financing of the NSPCC) 1979 Jul 2 1986 Jan 22 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/3139 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad ​​​​​​​(Prime Minister's visit to New York to attend World Summit for Children and to receive UNIFEM award, September-October 1990: administrative arrangements) 1989 Oct 13 1990 Oct 15 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3754 European Policy (Visits to the UK by Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission)​​​​​​​ (Part 3) 1987 Jan 2 1992 Nov 16 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3199 Turkey (Prime Minister's visit to Turkey to attend the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign, April 1990) (Part 2) 1990 Feb 28 1990 Aug 13 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2499 Security (RAF fixed telecommunications system) 1988 Mar 29 1988 Jul 21 Retained Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1370 Science and technology (Prime Minister’s seminar on science, technology, and industry, September 1983) (Part 1) 1982 Dec 22 1984 Feb 2 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3294 Education ​​​​​​​(General policy on education)(Part 27) 1990 Nov 13 1991 Mar 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3917 Royal Family (Marriage and separation of Prince Andrew) 1986 Mar 1 1992 Mar 21 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/2978 European Policy (Proposal for a Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Mediterranean) 1990 Oct 8 1990 Oct 19 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/2156 European Policy (European Council meeting, Brussels, June 1987) (Part 26) 1986 May 1 1987 Jul 1 Retained Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/1631 Security (Security vetting: guidelines for Private Office posts) 1983 Jun 23 1985 Jan 21 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1291 Ireland (European Commission of Human Rights: case of Farrell v. UK) 1979 Nov 7 1984 Aug 1 2014 Jan 3
PREM19/3432 Luxembourg ​​​​​​​(Visits of Prime Ministers of Luxembourg, Pierre Werner and Jacques Santer) 1980 Nov 14 1991 Jun 25 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2809 Prime Minister (Prime Minister's meetings and correspondence with Jack Peel (Director of Industrial Relations at the European Commission until March 1981)) (Part 1) 1980 Jan 1 1989 Sep 28 2016 Dec 30
PREM19/1996 United Nations (United Nations financial crisis) 1986 Mar 7 1986 Apr 28 2015 Dec 30

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