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
PREM19/2051 Cyprus (Visits to UK by President Kyprianou and his successor President George Vassiliou) (Part 2) 1985 Mar 6 1988 Dec 21 2016 Jul 21 6 Secret UK Eyes A 320
PREM19/3637 Cyprus (Visits to the UK by President Vassiliou of Cyprus) 1989 Jan 4 1992 Jul 13 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/1433 Cyprus (Visits to the UK by President Kyprianou: meetings with Prime Minister) (Part 1) 1979 Dec 10 1985 Jan 14 2014 Dec 30 3 Secret 386
PREM19/4600 Cyprus (United Nations forces in Cyprus) (Part 1) 1979 Jun 1 1994 Jun 8 2019 Feb 6
PREM19/1432 Cyprus (Internal situation: UK/Cyprus relations) (Part 2) 1983 Dec 1 1985 May 31 2014 Dec 30 9 Secret 446
PREM19/2609 Cyprus (Internal situation: UK/Cyprus relations) (Part 3) 1985 Jul 4 1989 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/4042 Cyprus (Internal situation/relations) (Part 4) 1989 Apr 1 1993 Feb 28 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/4598 Cuba (UK/Cuban relations) (Part 1) 1980 Jan 25 1994 Aug 22 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/11 Cuba (Soviet ground forces) 1979 Sep 5 1979 Dec 17 2009 Dec 30 Secret 28
PREM19/2050 Costa Rica (Visits to UK by President Luis Monge and his successor President Oscar Arias) 1983 Mar 30 1988 Oct 17 2016 Jul 21 Confidential 90
PREM19/4597 Costa Rica (UK/Costa Rican relations) (Part 1) 1980 May 5 1994 Feb 7 2018 Dec 28
PREM19/2608 Congo (UK/Congolese relations: visit to the UK by President Sassou-Nguesso; meeting with Prime Minister, 17 February 1987) 1982 Sep 13 1989 Aug 10 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 80
PREM19/3635 Commonwealth (Reports by Commonwealth Secretary-General: activities of the Commonwealth Secretariat) (Part 2) 1987 May 5 1992 Jun 30 2017 Dec 29 Confidential 119
PREM19/3244 Commonwealth (Meetings with the Commonwealth Secretary-General) (Part 1) 1979 May 24 1991 Aug 28 2017 Jul 20 8 Secret 281
PREM19/9 Commonwealth (Lusaka Heads of Government Meeting) (CHOGM) (Part 1) 1979 May 18 1979 Jul 31 2009 Dec 30 3 Secret 201

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