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
PREM19/3237 Commonwealth ​​​​​​​(Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Harare, Zimbabwe, October 1991)(Part 17) 1990 Jun 7 1991 Oct 9 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3246 Commonwealth ​​​​​​​(Commonwealth Security Conference, London, June 1991) 1990 Nov 13 1991 Jan 14 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3243 Commonwealth ​​​​​​​(High level review of the role of the Commonwealth: dates for Heads of Government meeting) 1990 Jun 5 1991 Aug 20 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3244 Commonwealth ​​​​​​​(Meetings with the Commonwealth Secretary-General)(Part 1) 1979 May 24 1991 Aug 28 2017 Jul 20
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
PREM19/2050 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
PREM19/2609 Cyprus (Internal situation: UK/Cyprus relations) (Part 3) 1985 Jul 4 1989 Feb 28 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/3637 Cyprus (Visits to the UK by President Vassiliou of Cyprus) 1989 Jan 4 1992 Jul 13 Temporarily Retained by Department
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
PREM19/3638 Czechoslovakia (Visit to the UK by President Vaclav Havel, March 1990; visits of the Czechoslovakian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister) 1990 Feb 7 1992 Jul 3 2017 Dec 29
PREM19/3247 Czechoslovakia ​​​​​​​(Letter to the Prime Minister from Mrs Eva Kanturkova about the arrest and detention of the signatories of Charter 77) 1979 Jun 28 1981 Dec 1 2017 Jul 20
PREM19/2610 Deaths (Action by the Prime Minister on the deaths of eminent persons: Government representation at memorial services) (Part 2) 1976 Mar 4 1989 Oct 17 2016 Dec 30 Confidential 148
PREM19/1663 Deaths (Assassination of Indira Gandhi, October 1984: Prime Minister's visit to India to attend funeral) 1984 Oct 31 1985 Dec 12 2014 Dec 30 Secret 184
PREM19/3639 Deaths (Deaths of members of the Royal Family and former Prime Ministers) 1979 Jun 22 1992 Jun 16 Temporarily Retained by Department
PREM19/4053 Defence ( Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve Forces: report of the Review Body on Armed Forces; pay on Bounties for the Reserve Forces; mobilisation of Reserves; reinforcement plan) 1979 Jul 4 1993 Aug 5 2018 Jul 24

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