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 Title Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld?sort descending File classification Pages
PREM19/3343 France (Internal situation) (Part 3) 1986 Oct 7 1991 Nov 21 2017 Jul 20 5 Secret 445
PREM19/3736 European Policy (European Council meeting in Edinburgh, 11-12 December 1992) (Part 41) 1990 May 21 1992 Apr 28 2017 Dec 29 5 Confidential 345
PREM19/3713 European Policy (Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)) (Part 20) 1990 Jul 18 1992 Dec 31 2017 Dec 29 5 Confidential 378
PREM19/3518 Royal Family (Celebration of the Queen Mother's 80th and 90th birthdays: gift by the Cabinet; Loyal Address in Parliament) 1979 Aug 1 1991 Jan 8 2017 Jul 20 5 Confidential 239
PREM19/1847 Defence (Higher organisation for defence) 1984 Feb 24 1986 Oct 2 2016 Jul 21 5
PREM19/3186 Soviet Union (Situation of Jews in the Soviet Union: Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry; Prime Minister's meeting with Ida Nudel; Raoul Wallenberg) (Part 2) 1987 Feb 10 1990 Jun 20 2016 Dec 30 5 Secret 169
PREM19/1123 Royal family (Royal visits by Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Mexico, USA, and Canada [also Belize] February-March 1983) 1982 Jun 4 1983 Jan 31 2014 Feb 14 5 Secret 46
PREM19/1285 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 15) 1984 Jan 6 1984 Mar 30 2014 Jan 3 6 Secret 249
PREM19/2535 Soviet Union (Domestic scene: Soviet leadership succession (Brezhnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev)) (Part 2) 1979 Jun 20 1987 Aug 5 2017 Dec 29 6 Secret 337
PREM19/1287 Ireland (Situation in Northern Ireland) (Part 17A) 1984 Jul 2 1984 Oct 5 2014 Jan 3 6 Top Secret 219
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
PREM19/3135 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Extraordinary European Council meeting in Rome, October 1990: administrative arrangements) 1990 Sep 27 1990 Oct 29 2016 Dec 30 6 Confidential 38
PREM19/3147 Prime Minister's Tours Abroad (Prime Minister's visit to the Soviet Union, June 1990: administrative arrangements) 1989 Oct 6 1990 Jun 21 2016 Dec 30 6 Secret 176
PREM19/3756 Falkland Islands (Future administration of the Falkland Islands) 1983 Oct 1 1992 Jul 13 2017 Dec 29 6 Top Secret 275
PREM19/952 Argentina (Falklands) (Part 34) 1983 Apr 2 1983 Sep 16 2013 Aug 1 6 Secret 313

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