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.

 

File name Titlesort ascending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/2277 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland: force levels) (Part 23) 1987 Nov 1 1988 Mar 31 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1815 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 21) 1986 Jul 2 1986 Oct 31 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/1814 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 20) 1985 Apr 1 1986 Jun 27 2014 Dec 30
PREM19/1548 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 19) 1984 Dec 31 1985 Mar 28 2014 Dec 30 1 Top Secret UK Eyes A 366
PREM19/3408 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 27) 1989 Jan 20 1990 Apr 26 2017 Dec 29 5 Secret 303
PREM19/1289 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 18) 1984 Nov 1 1984 Dec 18 2014 Jan 3 Secret 147
PREM19/1288 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 17B) 1984 Oct 6 1984 Oct 31 2014 Jan 3 3 Top Secret 239
PREM19/1287 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 17A) 1984 Jul 2 1984 Oct 5 2014 Jan 3 6 Top Secret 219
PREM19/1286 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 16) 1984 Apr 10 1984 Jun 28 2014 Jan 3 Secret 296
PREM19/1285 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 15) 1984 Jan 6 1984 Mar 30 2014 Jan 3 6 Secret 249
PREM19/385 Ireland (Prime Minister’s visit to Northern Ireland, December 1979) 1979 Aug 27 1980 Jan 16 2010 Dec 30 Top Secret 137
PREM19/1547 Ireland (Prime Minister's visits to Northern Ireland) (Part 3) 1982 Dec 2 1985 Sep 24 2014 Dec 30 2 Top Secret 266
PREM19/3825 Ireland (Prime Minister's visits to Northern Ireland) (Part 6) 1990 Oct 1 1992 Feb 6 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/3403 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish Summits; Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 21) 1990 Apr 6 1991 Jul 30 2017 Jul 20 4 Secret 395
PREM19/1550 Ireland (Prime Minister's meetings with the Taoiseach: Anglo-Irish relations) (Part 9) 1985 Jul 1 1985 Sep 30 2014 Dec 30 Secret 333

Pages