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Microform: Documents of the National Security Council, 1947-1985

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0099 KCLMA MF 71-81; 172-174; 286-292; 434-437; 782-791
Held at: Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College London
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Full title: Microform: Documents of the National Security Council, 1947-1985
Date(s): 1947-1985, 1980-1993
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 31 reels
Name of creator(s): The National Security Council of the United States, 1947-1985


Administrative/Biographical history:

The National Security Act of 1947 and the Reorganization Plan of 1949 defined the composition and function of the National Security Council (NSC). Chaired by the President of the United States, the NSC consists of statutory members (the Vice President and the secretaries of State and Defense), statutory advisers (the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency), the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and professional staff members who are on temporary assignment from the armed forces, the Central Intelligence Agency, elsewhere in the government, or who have been recruited from universities and think tanks. The statutory function of the NSC is to advise the President with respect to the integration of domestic, foreign, and military policies relating to national security. Since 1947 the NSC has evolved as a key foreign policy making arm of the president under such advisers as McGeorge Bundy, Dr Henry Albert Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski.During the administrations of Harry S Truman and Dwight David Eisenhower, the NSC produced a series of formal policy papers whose purpose it was to analyse current and potential national security issues and make policy recommendations to deal with those issues. These policy papers were prepared by the NSC staff and occasionally by members of the NSC in response to requests by the NSC to study specific issues. When completed, these policy papers (NSCPP) were distributed to the NSC for study and comment. If the NSC decided to alter a policy paper, a revised draft would be produced. Once approved, the paper became the official (and usually secret) policy of the United States government. National Security Council Policy Papers Background Documents (NSCPPBD) consists of the background documentation used by NSC staff in preparing policy papers. These files contain memoranda, correspondence, minutes of meetings and reports by NSC members. Procedure files, 'P' files, and 'Mill' files were created during the Truman and Eisenhower presidencies as a policy paper series separate and distinct from the formal NSCPP series and working papers respectively. The studies contained in the 'P' files deal with issues that required an accelerated procedure of review and action. 'Mill' papers were the working files for proposed NSC studies. National Security Council Actions (NSCA) were the records of actions, directives, and decisions made by the NSC. National Security Action Memoranda (NSAM) were formal presidential directives dealing with the security affairs during the administrations of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1961-1963) and Lyndon Baines Johnson (1963-1969). National Security Study Memoranda (NSSM) was used during the administrations of Richard Milhous Nixon (1969-1974) and Gerald Rudolph Ford (1974-1977). Presidential Review Memoranda (PRM) was used during the administration of James Earl (Jimmy) Carter, Jr (1977-1981) to direct that reviews and analyses be undertaken by federal departments and agencies in regard to national security matters, while Presidential Directives (PD) were used to promulgate presidential decisions. During the presidency of Ronald Wilson Reagan (1981-1989) National Security Decision Directives (NSDD) were used to promulgate presidential decisions and National Security Study Directives (NSSD) were used to direct that studies be undertaken involving national security policy and objectives. National Security Directives (NSD) were used during the administration of George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993) to promulgate national security decisions. Finally, National Security Council Intelligence Directives (NSCID) emerged in 1947 to provide guidance to the entire United States intelligence community. These directives outline the organisation, procedure, and relationships of the numerous intelligence organisations within the federal government.


Scope and content/abstract:

Documents of the National Security Council, 1947-1985 are microfilmed copies of memoranda, policy papers, directives and records of actions undertaken by the US National Security Council, 1947-1985. Document material relates to US policy with respect to Japan, the Soviet Union, China, 1948-49; military assistance to non-communist nations, 1948-49; US policy on atomic warfare, 1948; the Berlin Blockade; the United Nations decision to introduce military forces to Palestine, 1948; US policy towards Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe, 1949; US courses of action with respect to the Republic of Korea, 1950-53; responsibilities of the Central Intelligence Agency with respect to guerrilla warfare, 1952; US policy and courses of action to counter possible Soviet or satellite action against Berlin, 1952; US objectives and actions to exploit the unrest in the Soviet satellite states, 1953; US courses of action with respect to Latin America, Iran and South Asia, 1953-85; covert operations, 1954-75; nuclear attack warning channel and procedures for civilians, 1955-65; the political implications of Afro-Asian military take-overs, 1959; US policy towards Cuba, 1959-60; US strategic nuclear forces capabilities, 1960-85; US military, political and psychological operations in South East Asia, 1961-74; US training objectives for counterinsurgency, 1962-85; the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT); US policy on arms transfers, 1975-85; the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; US policy towards Cuba and Central America, 1982; the US approach to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), 1982-85. Policy papers and progress reports relate to all European nations, the Soviet Union and its satellites, Canada, Latin America, Japan, The Middle East, the People's Republic of China, South East Asia, Angola, North Africa, 1947-1985.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection is arranged into the following sections: National Security Council Policy Papers (NSCPP); National Security Council Background Documents; 'P' Files; 'Mill' papers; National Security Council Actions; National Security Action Memoranda; National Security Study Memoranda; National Security Decision Memoranda; Presidential Directives; National Security Study Directives; National Security Decision Directives; National Security Directives; NSC Intelligence Directives. Memoranda, correspondence, directives, documents, policy recommendations and position papers are then arranged chronologically therein.

Conditions governing access:

Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be printed off the microfilm for research purposes and are charged at the cost to the Centre. 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 entry on-line at, and published detailed catalogues available in hard copy in the Centre's reading room, Paul Kesaris (ed.), Documents of the National Security Council, 1947-1985 (University Publications of America, Inc, Bethesda, MD, 1980-1993).

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:

Further microfilmed papers created by the National Security Council may be found at LHCMA MF 82-84.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

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

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