Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Harry S. Truman Papers:
White House Central Files:
Confidential File

Dates: 1938-l953.

The Confidential File includes, together with the President's Secretary's File, the most sensitive of Harry S. Truman's presidential papers. It is composed of materials that were retired by the President and his staff to the White House Central Files, and were felt by that office to require special protection. Defense and foreign policy related topics are particularly strongly documented by the Confidential File.

[Administrative Information | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List]


Size: 24 linear feet, 11 linear inches (ca. 45,600 pages)
Access: Open, with the exception that some documents are temporarily restricted in accordance with President Truman's letter of gift of February 12, 1957, his will dated January 14, 1959, and the requirements of the Executive Order governing the administration of classified information.
Copyright: President Truman donated his copyright interest in any of his writings in this collection to the people of the United States. In addition, documents prepared by United States Government employees in the course of their official duties are also in the public domain. Copyright interest in documents which do not fall in these two categories is presumed to remain with the writers of the documents.
Processed by: Dennis E. Bilger and Erwin J. Mueller (1976); Erwin J. Mueller, Raymond H. Geselbracht, Sharie K. Holbert and Mary Jo Colle (1989); Jan Davis and David Clark (2017).

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


The Confidential File was maintained by the White House staff as a component of the White House Central Files. It consists of those documents in the custody of the White House Central Files that were considered to have a special sensitivity and thus to require greater protection than was accorded the rest of the files. It includes, among various other categories of sensitivity, documents which contained security classified information, and those concerning appointments to Government positions and other personnel matters.

When President Truman left the White House in January 1953, the Confidential File was moved along with the rest of the White House Central Files to the Jackson County Courthouse in Kansas City, Missouri. On the recommendation of his aide David Lloyd, who thought he should have the Confidential File near at hand when he was working on his memoirs, Truman ordered it moved to his office in the Federal Reserve Building in Kansas City. When all of Truman's papers were moved to the Harry S. Truman Library in 1959, the Confidential File was placed in Truman's office suite in the Library and was not included in his initial donation of his presidential papers to the Government. It finally came into Government custody after Truman's death in 1972, according to the provisions of his will. It was opened for research in 1976.

The Confidential File consists of three series, a Subject File, a State Department File, and a Cross Reference Sheets file. Topics covered in the Subject File include lend-lease, the mutual defense program, the unification of the armed services, the coal strike of 1950, and the Korean War. The subjects are arranged alphabetically.

The large amount of material relating to the State Department which the White House Central Files office chose to place in the Confidential File has been separated into its own series, the State Department File, which consists of four subseries. The first is the Correspondence File, including folders of correspondence arranged chronologically.

Second is the Myron C. Taylor File. Taylor served as Personal Representative of the President at Vatican City from 1939 to 1950. The subseries includes correspondence between Presidents Roosevelt and Truman and Pope Pius XII, and correspondence concerning Taylor's assessments of conditions in several European countries. The files are arranged chronologically. Also included in the subseries are files from the office of William D. Hassett. Hassett, who was Truman's correspondence secretary, served also as his unofficial liaison with Myron Taylor's embassy in the Vatican. His files are arranged in alphabetical order.

The third subseries in the State Department File is the International Trade Agreements File. This file is arranged chronologically and includes material on specific countries, commodities and international agreements.

The fourth subseries is the Reports and Publications File, which is dominated by galley proofs for a report on China.

The Confidential File's third series is the Cross Reference Sheets file. This series, consisting of cross reference sheets, is in effect an index, created by the White House Central Files office, to the Confidential File. The cross reference sheets include abstracts of the documents referred to and indication of the documents' locations within the Confidential File. The reference to location is often not very precise, to "State" for example, which identifies only approximately where the document may be found. In such cases, the documents are probably located in a series or group of folders in which material is filed chronologically. A document whose location is described in a cross reference as "State," for example, is probably located in the correspondence subseries of the State Department File. There is no cross referencing between the Confidential File and the rest of the White House Central Files. The Cross Reference Sheets file is arranged alphabetically.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


Container Nos.Series
1-30 SUBJECT FILE, 1945-1953
Correspondence, memoranda, reports and press releases relating to such topics as the individual Executive Branch departments, the coal strike of l950, Latin American affairs, the Korean War, lend-lease, labor, the loyalty program, the mutual defense program, the Pearl Harbor Investigaion, the reorganization of the Executive Branch, Secret Service reports, the Soviet Union, selective service, speeches of Executive Branch personnel, subversive activities, the unification of the armed services, the United Nations, universal training, and World War II. Arranged alphabetically.
31-49 STATE DEPARTMENT FILE, 1938-1953, consisting of four subseries, as follows:
    Correspondence File, 1944-1953: Correspondence, reports, background studies, and press releases relating to the State Department's role in foreign affairs. The subseries consists of chronological correspondence files.
    Myron C. Taylor File, 1938-1951: Correspondence and reports relating to Taylor's role as Personal Representative of the President at Vatican City. Information has been added in brackets to some of the chronological folder titles. The subseries includes files of William D. Hassett which relate to the Taylor mission. Arranged chronologically under Taylor's name, and then Alphabetically by subject under Hassett's name.
    Reports and Publications File, 1945-1950: Galley proofs and printed material relating to the preparation of a State Department report on China, foreign policy reports for 1945, and the State Department publication Weekly Review for 1949 and 1950. Arranged alphabetically.
50-57 CROSS REFERENCE SHEETS, 1945-1953: Cross reference sheets, serving as an index to the remainder of the Confidential File. The cross reference sheets identify the document referred to by correspondent, date and subject, and identify its location, more or less precisely. Arranged alphabetically.

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]


Box 1 Box 2 Box 3 Box 4 Box 5 Box 6 Box 7 Box 8 Box 9 Box 10 Box 11 Box 12 Box 13 Box 14 Box 15 Box 16 Box 17 Box 18 Box 19 Box 20 Box 21 Box 22 Box 23 Box 24 Box 25 Box 26 Box 27 Box 28 Box 29 Box 30 Box 31 Box 32 Box 33 Box 34 Box 35 Box 36 Box 37 Box 38 Box 39 Box 40 Box 41 Box 42 Box 43 Box 44 Box 45 Box 46 Box 47 Box 48 Box 59 Box 50 Box 51 Box 52 Box 53 Box 54 Box 55 Box 56 Box 57

[ Top of the page | Administrative Information | Collection Description | Series Descriptions | Folder Title List ]