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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA MF 71-81; 172-174; 286-292; 434-437; 782-791
1947-1985, 1980-1993
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
31 reels and 7 published detailed guides


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.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

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

Content & structure

Scope and content

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.

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.  Microfilm reels are numbered in order of accession and the numbers have been added to the published guides, which should be consulted first.

Conditions of access & use

Conditions governing access

Open, subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

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

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

This summary guide and a series of published detailed guides: ‘Documents of the National Security Council, 1947-1977’ (University Publications of America, 1980), and 6 subsequent supplements, 1981-1993


Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

National Security Council Files, Record Group 273, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.

Related units of description

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



Compiled Jul 1999

Description control

Rules or conventions

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

This catalogue is made available under the Open Data Commons Attribution License. This catalogue may be updated from time to time in order to reflect additional material and/or new understandings of the material.

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  • Arms control
  • Berlin Wall
  • Boundaries
  • Central government
  • Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
  • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
  • Disarmament
  • East West relations
  • Foreign relations
  • Government
  • International conflicts
  • International instruments
  • International law
  • International relations
  • International tensions
  • Military engineering
  • Military equipment
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Peace
  • Public administration
  • Rights of states
  • Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) (1972-1979)
  • Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), 1992-1999
  • Territorial rights
  • Warfare
  • Weapons

Personal names

  • Brzezinski, Zbigniew Kasimierz, b 1928, US public official
  • Bundy, McGeorge, 1919-1996, US public official
  • Carter, James Earl, b 1924, US President
  • Eisenhower, Dwight David, 1890-1969, US President and General
  • Ford, Gerald Rudolph, b 1913, US President
  • Johnson, Lyndon Baines, 1908-1973, US President
  • Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963, US President
  • Kissinger, Henry Alfred, b 1923, US Secretary of State
  • Nixon, Richard Milhous, 1913-1994, US President
  • Reagan, Ronald Wilson, b 1911, US President
  • Truman, Harry S, 1884-1972, US President

Corporate names

  • National Security Council
  • US Central Intelligence Agency
  • US Government departments


  • Americas
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Central America
  • China, East Asia
  • Cuba, Caribbean
  • Korea, East Asia
  • Middle East
  • USSR, Eastern Europe

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