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| Public Papers of President Truman
Truman donated his papers to the United States government through a letter
of gift dated February 12, 1957, and his will of January 14, 1959. The
entire collection totals over 7 million pages. Truman's early life and
career in Jackson County as farmer, entrepreneur, soldier, businessman,
community leader, politician and local government official is not as well
documented in his papers as is his later career. Most of Truman's senatorial
papers from his first term, from January 1935 through January 1941, were
presumably destroyed after being removed from Truman's office and sent
into storage somewhere in the Senate Office Building. The papers from
Truman's brief tenure as Vice President are filed with those from his
second senatorial term.
An important feature
of Truman's papers is a remarkable collection of correspondence with
his wife, daughter and other relatives, and of autobiographical and
diary-like writings. Truman was throughout his life a prolific letter
writer, and his frequent absences from home and family gave him strong
reason to write many letters. These are located in the Papers
Pertaining to Family, Business and Personal Affairs. The autobiographical
and diary-like manuscripts are for the most part in the President's
POST-PRESIDENTIAL PAPERS, 1953-72. 372 linear feet. About two-thirds of the collection is composed of several
correspondence files, among them the Rose Conway Office File, which holds
material that Truman's personal secretary felt was sensitive and decided
to file in her own office rather than in the main file room; the Name File,
which, together with the Rose Conway Office File, holds most of Mr. Truman's
exchanges with his more important correspondents; and the very large General
File, which holds correspondence judged to be less important than the material
filed in the Rose Conway Office File and the Name File. The collection also
includes a Subject File, a Speech File, a Trip File, a file containing the
documents found in Truman's desk after his death, a file containing materials
created during the writing of Truman's memoirs, and a file relating to the
construction and operation of the Harry S. Truman Library.
SECRETARY'S FILES, 1945-53. 116 linear feet. President Truman instructed
his personal secretary, Rose Conway, to keep several categories of documents,
including the most sensitive ones that came to his desk, in a special
file located near the Oval Office. The President's Secretary's Files
include national security and intelligence information, the President's
most sensitive correspondence, his speech file, and the miscellaneous
notes and memorandums that constitute his diary.
- WHITE HOUSE CENTRAL
FILES, 1945-53. 2,797 linear feet. Includes the following series created
by the White House Central Files unit, and contains documents sent to
the unit by the President and the White House staff:
FILE, 1945-53. 918 linear feet, 9 linear inches. Composed of about 3,500 numbered
files pertaining to government departments and agencies, the operations
of the Executive Office of the President, individual countries,
broad subject areas, and organizations and individuals having business
with the federal government. The documents in this file were interpreted
by the staff of the White House Central Files as pertaining to the
official business of the government of the United States.
PERSONAL FILE, 1945-53. 316 linear feet, 4 linear inches. Composed primarily
of files on individuals and organizations who were in correspondence
with the White House on matters interpreted by the staff of the
White House Central Files as being more political, social or ceremonial
in character than those treated in the documents filed in the Official
File. The President's Personal File also contains a small number
of files on broad subject areas and on the President and his family.
Two especially large files are PPF 9, Gifts to the President, and
PPF 200 and 200a, which hold correspondence commending or criticizing
the President on different issues. A detailed description and alphabetical
index are available online.
- GENERAL FILE,
1945-53. 1,391 linear feet. Composed of materials not considered
by the White House Central Files unit to be important enough to
be classified by subject or name and filed in the Official File
or President's Personal File. The General File also contains cross-references
by name and organization to correspondence filed in the Official
File and President's Personal File and to correspondence that was
referred to other agencies and departments for response. The General
File serves as an index, primarily by name, to most of the materials
received by the White House Central Files unit, and in particular
to all the documents that were filed in the Official File and the
President's Personal File. Arranged alphabetically by name and organization.
FILE, 1938 (1945)-1953. 28.7 linear feet. Security-classified
documents and other documents that in the opinion of the White House
Central Files staff required special protection were put in the
Confidential File. About a third of the file is composed of material
relating to the State Department, and most of the remainder is filed
alphabetically under the names of other government agencies. A series
of cross-reference sheets serves as an index to the entire file.
- PERMANENT FILE,
1936-1955. 3 linear feet, 11 linear inches. Documents that in the judgment of the White
House Central Files staff contained information that might constitute
precedents for the operation of the White House Office were put
in the Permanent File. The topics covered in this file range from
the powers of the President to the White House garage. Arranged
alphabetically by subject.
OPINION MAIL, 1945-53. 7 linear feet. The White House Central
Files staff would sometimes remove public opinion mail from the
Official File and President's Personal File and retire it to a segregated
location. Most commonly, this material was voluminous and composed
of very strong statements for or against certain policies or points
of view. The staff of the White House Central Files disposed of
most of this material, but they retained the sample that constitutes
this series. The material in the series includes many telegrams,
printed petitions, form postcards, and also some correspondence.
About half the material relates to Palestine and Israel. Other topics
covered included the Taft-Hartley law, a proposed national day of
prayer, the execution of the "Martinsville Seven," the Fair Employment
Practices Committee, and civil rights.
- STAFF MEMBER AND
OFFICE FILES, 391 linear feet. Composed of materials from components
of the White House Office and, in one instance, the Executive Office
of the President that for one reason or another were not integrated
with the White House Central Files filing system. In the case of the
office files of individual staff members, the materials were in some
instances retired from individual offices to the White House Central
Files unit and maintained together under the names of individual officials;
in other instances the materials were removed from the offices when
the Truman administration ended and shipped to Kansas City together
with the rest of Truman's papers. These individual staff files are those
materials that departing staff did not choose to take away with them.
The files should be used in conjunction with the collections of personal
papers of many of the same individuals that the library has in its holdings.
These collections, called "papers" rather than "files," are listed under
the heading "Personal Papers and Organizational
Records." The files that carry the names of offices, such as Psychological
Strategy Board Files or White House Social Office Files, are listed
first and are followed by the files that are named for individual staff
members. Two artificially created file groups, the Korean War File and
the Press Release File, are listed together with the files named for
- FILES NAMED FOR
WAR FILE, 1947-52. 8 linear feet. Copies of State and Defense
Department documents relating to the Korean war, made and sent to
the White House at the request of President Truman.
ROOM FILE, 1945. 1 linear foot. The Map Room was established
during World War II on the ground floor of the White House. It was
primarily a communications center. Security-classified military
and diplomatic messages sent to the White House by the State, War
and Navy Departments and by foreign governments were filed in the
Map Room File. The Truman Library's Map Room File, which completes
the much larger file group at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library,
covers the period from April 12, 1945, until the end of the war.
The Map Room was closed as a White House Office in May 1946. Arranged
SECURITY COUNCIL FILES, 1947-53. 5 linear feet, 8 linear inches. This file, which
was found in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency in about
1980, was transferred in 1981 to the Truman Library. It is thought
to be the file of the small permanent National Security Council
staff in Truman's White House Office. Many of the documents in this file are also in the National
Security Council series of the President's Secretary's File.
AIDE TO THE PRESIDENT FILES, 1945-53. 13 linear feet. After
the Map Room was closed in 1946, the Naval Aide's office received
the security classified and other sensitive diplomatic and military
communications that had formerly been sent to the Map Room. The
file includes some of President Truman's communications with foreign
government leaders and American diplomats; communications between
the White House and Truman's headquarters during the Potsdam Conference;
State Department briefing papers for the President; messages concerning
the Korean war received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander
in Chief of the Far East; and correspondence concerning the tenure
of service of individual U.S. Navy servicemen. Most of the material
in the file dates from 1945 to 1948.
STRATEGY BOARD FILES, 1951-53. 22 linear feet. The Psychological
Strategy Board was composed of the Under Secretary of State, the
Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Central Intelligence.
It reported to the National Security Council. A Director headed
a small permanent staff. The PSB planned psychological operations
and coordinated their implementation by the concerned government
agencies. The file contains subject, country and name series, all
organized within a War Department decimal filing scheme.
- WHITE HOUSE CHIEF USHER FILES, 1945-52. 1 linear feet, 4 linear inches. The Chief Usher acts as the “general manager” of the Executive Mansion and is responsible for directing the administrative, fiscal, and personnel functions involved in the management and operation of the Executive Mansion. The White House Chief Usher Files consist of bound diary books that track the movements of the President and First Lady, along with the arrivals and departures of guests.
HOUSE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT'S CORRESPONDENCE SECRETARY FILES,
1945-53. 2 linear feet, 2 linear inches. This office drafted correspondence of
a routine nature for the President's signature. The files contain
copies of outgoing correspondence.
HOUSE OFFICE OF SOCIAL CORRESPONDENCE FILES, 1945-53. 108 linear
feet. This office was responsible for replying to letters addressed
to Bess and Margaret Truman. About two-thirds of the file is composed
of incoming correspondence, the remainder being mostly copies of
the replies, which were for the most part signed by Mrs. Truman's
personal secretary or the White House Social Secretary. Major series
in the file concern gifts received, invitations, organizations,
Margaret Truman's performing career, and requests for autographs.
An index to the file is available in the research room.
HOUSE OFFICIAL REPORTER FILES, 1945-1953. 7 linear feet. The
Official Reporter had the responsibility of creating a record of
what the President actually said in his speeches, public statements,
and press conferences.
HOUSE PRESS RELEASE FILES, 1945-53. 4.2 linear feet. This set
of White House press releases was compiled by George Elsey and Eben Ayers in preparation for the
anticipated publication of Truman's public papers in a U.S. government
series of books.
HOUSE RECORDS OFFICE FILES, 1945-1953. 49 linear feet. The White
House records clerk had the responsibility of assuring that the
President took action on pending legislation within prescribed time
limitations. The files are composed primarily of memorandums from
interested departments and agencies giving their opinions on proposed
legislation and of memorandums from the Director of the Bureau of
the Budget forwarding his recommendations on legislation to the
- WHITE HOUSE
SCRAPBOOKS, 1945-53. 32 linear feet, copied on 62 reels of microfilm.
Composed primarily of a chronological series of scrapbooks containing
clippings for the most part from New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago,
St. Louis, and Kansas City newspapers.
- WHITE HOUSE
SOCIAL OFFICE FILES, 1945-53. 37 linear feet. This office planned
all White House social functions. The files include an alphabetically
arranged correspondence file, and a chronologically arranged series
of files on all the social functions held in the White House during
Truman's Presidency. The files also contain indexes that list the
names of persons invited to attend White House functions and of
those who extended social invitations to the Trumans.
HOUSE TELEGRAPH OFFICE FILES, 1945-53. 7 linear feet. The files
contain primarily telegrams sent by President Truman and members
of his staff from the White House and from the President's office
at Key West, Florida. There are also a small number of incoming
HOUSE TELEPHONE OFFICE FILES, 1945-53. 12 linear feet. The files
include records of incoming and outgoing calls, long-distance toll
slips, and copies of the President's daily appointments calendar.
- FILES NAMED FOR
INDIVIDUAL STAFF MEMBERS:
EBEN A. Assistant Press Secretary to the President, 1945-50;
Special Assistant in the White House Office, 1951-53. Files, 1947-53.
Less than 1 linear foot.
DAVID E. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1951-53.
Files, 1949-53. About 400 pages.
CLARK M. Special Counsel to the President, 1946-50. Files, 1946-50.
5 linear feet.
MATTHEW J. Appointments Secretary to the President, 1945-53.
Files, 1945-53. 5.7 linear feet.
ROSE A. Administrative Assistant in the President's Office,
1945-53. Files, 1945-53. 6.8 linear feet.
ROBERT L. Naval Aide to the President, 1948-53. Files, 1946-53.
2.4 linear feet.
GEORGE M. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1949-51;
Assistant to the Director, Mutual Security Agency, 1951-53. Files
1945-49. About 900 pages.
FLEUR. Assistant to John R. Steelman, 1946. Files, 1946. 1 linear
JAMES V. Assistant to John R. Steelman, 1946-51. Files, 1948-51.
1 linear foot.
MARTIN L. Special Assistant in the White House Office, 1950-1953.
Files, 1948-1952. 13 linear feet, 2 linear inches.
JOHN T. Assistant to John R. Steelman, 1945-50. Files, 1945-50.
1.6 linear foot.
DALLAS C. Assistant to John R. Steelman, 1946-48. Files, 1946-48.
KEN. Special Assistant in the White House Office, 1950-53. Files,
1950-52. 6 linear feet.
CHARLES W. Assistant in the White House Office, 1946-52. Files,
1944-52. 13.2 linear feet.
ROBERT B. Air Aide to the President, 1948-53. Files, 1948-52.
2 linear feet.
DAVID D. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1951-53.
Files, 1945-53. 12.7 linear feet.
EDWIN A., JR. Special Assistant to the President, 1946-47. Files,
1941-47. 8 linear feet.
JAMES I. Consultant in the Executive Office of the President,
1951-52. Files, 1951-52. Less than 1 linear foot.
CHARLES S. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1947-50;
Special Counsel to the President, 1950-53. Files, 1948-53. 11 linear
PHILLEO. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1952-53.
Files, 1945-52. 14.4 linear feet.
RICHARD E. Special Assistant in the White House Office, 1950-53.
Files, 1952. About 400 pages.
SPENCER R. Assistant to John R. Steelman, 1951-53. Files, 1951-53.
4.4 linear feet.
GEORGE J. Special Executive Assistant to the President, 1945-47.
Files, 1945-47. 1 linear foot.
JOSEPH H. Press Secretary to the President, 1950-52. Files,
1950-52. Approximately one half of one linear foot (about 1,000
STEPHEN J. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1950.
Files 1949-50. 4 linear feet.
JOHN R. Assistant to the President, 1946-53. Files, 1949-50.
5.6 linear feet.
DAVID H. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1949-53.
Files, 1949-53. Less than 1 linear foot.
RAYMOND R. Administrative Assistant to the President, 1945-47.
Files, 1945-47. 14 linear feet.
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