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Microform: Public Statements by the Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA MF 212-282
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: Microform: Public Statements by the Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981
Date(s): 1947-1981, 1983
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 71 reels
Name of creator(s): US Department of Defense, 1947-1981


Administrative/Biographical history:

Throughout the Cold War, the US Department of Defense issued official statements to the general public and the media. Also, speeches were made by the Secretary of Defense and official press conferences were devised to relay imperative national security information and to keep the American public abreast of national and international affairs. This was standard policy for successive Secretaries of Defense, designed both for purposes of increased public relations coverage and for the dissemination of reliable defence information. In an era of potentially contentious defence-related issues, the Pentagon considered such public statements essential. Increased military spending, increased US-Soviet rivalry, the steady rise in the lethality of nuclear technology, the perceived spread of communism, US interventions abroad, and the war in Vietnam, all provide the backdrop to Public Statements by the Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981. Over the span of 35 years, the US Department of Defense compiled statements and press releases issued by the following Secretaries of Defense: James Forrestal, 17 Sep 1947-27 Mar 1949; Louis Arthur Johnson, 28 Mar 1949-19 Sep 1950; George Catlett Marshall, 21 Sep 1950-12 Sep 1951; Robert Abercrombie Lovett, 17 Sep 1951-20 Jan 1953; Charles Erwin Wilson, 28 Jan 1953-8 Oct 1957; Neil H McElroy, 9 Oct 1957-1 Dec 1959; Thomas S(overeign) Gates, Jr, 2 Dec 1959-20 Jan 1961; Robert Strange McNamara, 21 Jan 1961-29 Feb 1968; Clark McAdams Clifford, 1 Mar 1968-20 Jan 1969; Melvin Robert Laird, 22 Jan 1969-29 Jan 1973; Elliot Lee Richardson, 30 Jan 1973-24 May 1973; James Rodney Schlesinger, 2 Jul 1973-19 Nov 1975; Donald H Rumsfeld, 20 Nov 1975-20 Jan 1977; Harold Brown, 21 Jan 1977-19 Jan 1981.


Scope and content/abstract:

Public Statements by the Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981 are microfilmed copies of official statements, press releases, speeches, announcements and memoranda released by successive US Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981. Compiled by the US Department of Defense at the Pentagon, Washington, DC, the material reflects US government national security concerns during the height of the Cold War. Arranged chronologically, the series includes statement before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan), 1948; statement before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives on aid to Greece and Turkey, 1948; memoranda relating to Civil Defense Planning, 1948; statement on biological warfare potentialities, 1949; statements relating to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 1949-1981; remarks at the unveiling of the memorial to British FM Sir John (Greer) Dill, 1950; testimony relating to the military situation in the Far East and the Balkans; statements relating to the Mutual Security Pact, 1952 and the Mutual Security Program, 1953; statement regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons for air defence, 1957; statement before the Senate Committee on Armed Services relating to satellite and missile programs, 1958; testimony regarding the Foreign Assistance Act, 1962; press conferences relating to the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962; joint statements with Gen Maxwell Davenport Taylor, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, relating to the situation in the Republic of Vietnam, 1963; press conference regarding Gulf of Tonkin 'incident', 1964; statement regarding the appointment of Gen William Childs Westmoreland as Commander, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, 1964; press releases relating to the increased commitment of US ground troops to Vietnam, 1966; testimony regarding US operations in Cambodia, 1970; press conferences relating to US-Soviet Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) tests, 1970; statements regarding US arms sales to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, 1974; statements regarding the fall of Saigon, Republic of Vietnam, to the North Vietnamese Army, Apr 1975; testimony relating to nuclear technology, including the Minuteman II nuclear missile, 1976; statements regarding Stealth technology and its application, 1980.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged chronologically as follows: the first section includes statements issued by the Secretaries of State during the presidency of Harry S Truman, 1947-1953; the second section includes statements during the presidency of Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953-1961; the third section includes the administrations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1961-1963 and 1963-1969 respectively; the fourth section includes statements issued during the administrations of Richard Milhous Nixon and Gerald Rudolph Ford, 1969- 1974 and 1974-1976 respectively; and the fifth section concludes the series with statements made during the presidency of James Earl (Jimmy) Carter, Jr, 1977-1981. Each administration section is then arranged into smaller sub-sections: 'Public Statements', statements issued to the media and general public; 'Personal and Official Messages', statements relating to armed forces personnel, memorials, and veterans associations; and 'Appointments, Assignments and Awards', material relating to US military personnel assignments and honours. Material is arranged chronologically therein.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be provided for research use only. Enquiries concerning the copyright of the original material should be addressed to University Publications of America, Inc., 4520 East-West Highway, Bethesda, MD, 20814-3389, USA

Finding aids:

Summary guide available on-line at, and in hard copy in the Centre's reading room, Paul Kesaris (ed.), Public Statements by the Secretaries of Defense, 1947-1981 (University Publications of America, Inc, Bethesda, MD, 1983).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

University Publications of America, Inc., Bethesda, MD, with published fully indexed guides edited by Paul Kesaris.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Date of compilation: Jul 1999

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