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Identity statement

Reference code(s)
GB0099 KCLMA MF 212-282
1947-1981, 1983
Level of description
collection level
Extent and medium of the unit of description (quantity, bulk, or size)
71 reels and five published guides


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.

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

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.

System of arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically: Part 1, the Truman Administration, 1947-1953; Part 2, the Eisenhower Administration, 1953-1961; Part 3, The Kennedy and Johnson Administrations; Part 4, the Nixon and Ford Administrations; Part 5, the Carter Administration.


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, 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

Language/scripts of material


Finding aids

This summary guide and a series of five published detailed guides.

Allied materials

Existence and location of originals

Historian's Office, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Pentagon, Washington, DC, USA



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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  • Alliances
  • Arab-Israeli War (1973)
  • Arms sales
  • Central government
  • Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
  • Defence
  • East West relations
  • Foreign relations
  • Government
  • Government departments
  • International conflicts
  • International relations
  • International tensions
  • Military engineering
  • Military equipment
  • Missiles
  • Nuclear warfare
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Public administration
  • State security
  • Vietnam War (1945-1975)
  • War
  • Warfare
  • Wars (events)
  • Wars (events)
  • Weapons

Personal names

  • Taylor, Maxwell Davenport, 1901-1987, US General
  • Westmoreland, William Childs, b 1914, US General

Corporate names

  • NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization
  • US Department of Defense


  • Americas
  • Balkans, Eastern Europe
  • Cambodia, South East Asia
  • Caribbean
  • Greece
  • Gulf of Tonkin, South China Sea
  • Israel, Middle East
  • Turkey, Middle East
  • USA, North America
  • USSR, Eastern Europe
  • Viet Nam, South East Asia

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